Seed Balls and Pollinator Conservation
My name is Dalaina; I live near Dallas, Texas in the prairie/grassland region of the south central United States. My purpose for making seed balls has been to focus on restoring the natural balance of plants and trees in areas that have been devastated by human interaction; to aid in the conservation of pollinators and their habitats; to inform and educate children and adults alike about the plight of the honey bee and to create a fun, friendly way of interacting with the environment in a goal oriented setting.
In my search for seed ball recipes and native plant seed mixes, I ran across many very helpful websites that I will include here as a reference of source. I began looking into Earth day events, festivals, community gatherings, garden clubs and the like to discover what platforms were available to launch my seed ball extravaganza. My daughter and I went to our local chamber of commerce to find out if they had any information on community based projects that we could participate in – to our surprise we discovered a wealth of fun family activities and events that take place in our town. In Ennis, where I live, there is an annual Bluebonnet festival that takes place in April; Earth day is April 22nd, so the Mayor’s wife and the president of the garden club set up a booth for the specific purpose of allowing kids to plant Bluebonnets – our state flower – and informing the public of the opportunities and commitments to the environment that they can make within their community. I happened to pick up a cook book – a collaboration of recipes from local citizens - and at the very end there was an awesome recipe for backyard dirt seed balls; you see in Texas the dirt is very hard with a clay like texture, and it’s perfect for making seed balls. It seems like I searched forever to find the red pottery clay that is needed to make conventional seed balls, so I was ecstatic to learn that I could use dirt from my back yard!
So far we have had success with our seed balls, but it is too early to tell when the Bluebonnets and wildflowers that we used will show their first signs of life. The balls have broken down nicely and the seeds are peeking through!
Backyard Dirt Seed Balls:
Texas Clay Dirt (sifted to remove large clumps and debris)
Potting Soil (sifted)
Native Seeds (variety depends on region)
Measuring cup and large mixing bowls
Cookie sheets or flat undisturbed surface will be needed to place seed balls and allow them to dry for 24-48 hours.
Mix one cup of dirt to one cup of potting soil (amount depends on quantity desired), add water as needed to create desired texture (needs to be doughy enough to form balls that stay together). I’ve found that flat seeds work better than big round seeds. Mix dirt, potting soil and water together, then add seeds and knead together until thoroughly mixed. Pinch off portions of mixture and roll into balls (shape and size depend on preference and intended use). Place balls on cookie sheet or flat surface allowing them to dry for 24-48 hours (placing them in the sun will speed up the drying process).
I started making seed balls and seeded paper with my six year old daughter this spring, and we discovered a rich new world of understanding and interacting with the environment that we both thoroughly enjoyed. My daughter absolutely loves playing in the dirt; and had a blast putting her hands in the muddy mix and pouring the seeds into the bowl. We had this great idea to take our seed ball success to new heights by inviting our school to participate in the activity. After contacting the principal and my daughter’s teacher, we were informed that career day was the perfect opportunity to get every kid in school involved in making seed balls; the event is scheduled to take place in May, and we are currently in the process of collecting native seed mixes, dirt and potting soil for our special day! I encourage everyone to take part in their own seed ball adventure - get planting and sowing the seeds of love!