Friday, October 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Guerrilla gardening in your own back yard

Seed balls. We're not talking sesame seeds here. We're talking about a tradition supposedly started by American Indians, who embedded corn inside clay balls to keep birds and critters from eating the kernels. Nowadays, seed balls - or seed grenades - are the weapons of choice of guerrilla gardeners, who toss clumps of clay with wildflower seeds inside onto abandoned property for the pure joy and defiance of it all. It's an art form of sorts, and ironically, given the flower show's British theme, it's big in London.

Guerrilla gardening in your own back yard

Seed balls. We're not talking sesame seeds here. We're talking about a tradition supposedly started by American Indians, who embedded corn inside clay balls to keep birds and critters from eating the kernels. Nowadays, seed balls - or seed grenades - are the weapons of choice of guerrilla gardeners, who toss clumps of clay with wildflower seeds inside onto abandoned property for the pure joy and defiance of it all. It's an art form of sorts, and ironically, given the flower show's British theme, it's big in London.

But we can't all be urban radicals. Wait - I take that back. We certainly could be. Philadelphia has 40,000 vacant lots! Have at it.

Then consider the possibilities for your own landscape. SeedBallz, a returning vendor at the 2013 flower show, can help. This an Oregon company that employs people with developmental disabilities to make tiny clay and compost balls with seeds inside for sunflowers, cilantro, edible flowers, black-eyed Susans and other herbs, flowers and vegetables. One ball covers one square foot, and the plants come up in clumps. You can arrange them in a zigzag pattern, something utterly impossible when you're bombing a berm and running off into the night.

At the very least, even if nothing sprouts, this is a fun idea that will amaze your friends. At most, you'll be doing a good thing by keeping these folks employed. As they like to say, they're "changing lives... one seed ball at a time."

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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