Recently, I have discovered we truly are getting in the spring season, not because of longer days, warmer weather, or flowers in bloom… but allergies. It’s something I never experienced growing up, or in the other places I’ve lived. I guess you take the negatives and positives together and with promoting pollinators and native plants there’s also the allergies that can come with them. Apparently, I moved to the allergy capital of the US!  Nobody told me! Let’s not dwell on that, but talk about a very fun recent outing I experienced at a school in my community.

In early March of 2020 I was invited to give a lesson with students on Seed balls. What are seed balls, you ask? I will tell you:


‘Seed balls are small bundles of seeds, clay, and soil or compost. Although seed balls have been around since ancient times, they were rediscovered in the 1930s by the Guerilla Gardening movement as a way to covertly introduce vegetation by simply tossing the seed balls (or, on a large scale, dropping them from an airplane). They are still used today to re-vegetate areas burned by wildfires. On a small scale, seed balls are fun to make and offer an inexpensive way to sow native plants and flowers’

“Seed Balls Garden Activity .” Kids Gardening, Helping young minds grow, Kidsgardening, kidsgardening.org/garden-activities-seed-balls/.

With the support of the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), I was able provide support and do a fun activity with students at a local elementary school. The 4thgrade students at Jacob Wismer Elementary have a monthly garden club, the week we showed up we promoted pollinating plants by getting a little dirty! In past lessons with the garden club, I talked about the importance of compost in creating healthy soil. Jumping off from out compost talk, and using that as a main ingredient to our seed balls,  I added some clay and native seeds to the mix with the compost to make seed balls! Over the course of an hour, several rounds of students took turns mixing our special recipe to create seed balls they could take home and plant in their community.

With more time be spent at home, you might find yourself looking for activities to do with the kids. This is a fun, engaging hands on activity! All you need is a few ingredients and couple easy to follow steps:

  1. Combine– 5 parts art clay | 1-part compost | 1-part seed mix. Work with hands until all parts are evenly mixed.
  2. Form this mixture into a ball, about the size of a golf ball.
  3. You can let the balls dry or plant immediately.
  4. When planting try to put them somewhere with a sufficient amount of sun and water, ideally before a rain do the water can help break down your seed ball.

Note:  If too much compost or seed is added the ball will dry up and break apart without forming a sturdy object. If this happens, slowly add some water to add moisture back into the ball until it holds together.

For more information on how to incorporate this lesson in the classroom or at home, check out the complete lesson on our website!

This lesson has been a big hit with students and provide some hands on learning of core subjects. Without the help of the local Soil and Water conservation district (SWCD), this fun opportunity wouldn’t have been possible with the students at Jacob Wismer Elementary. Visit this link to find more resources available from the SWCD and to see if there’s one near you. Remember to stay safe, wash your hands, but also get a little dirty making some seed balls!

-Casey Blake, Washington County Programs Coordinator

Sources:
“Seed Balls Garden Activity .” Kids Gardening, Helping young minds grow, Kidsgardening, kidsgardening.org/garden-activities-seed-balls/.