Guerrilla Gardening is gardening against all odds. It is illegal (in most cases the police turns a blind eye to it though) and often it is not easy. But the mission is lovely and worth some hassle: To make our cities greener and better places to be.
The motives of people that go out at night to change weary wastelands, traffic islands and parking lanes into lovely gardens can vary from environmental concern to artistic merits and political protest. Their „weapons“ are always the same: Spade and shovel, offshoots, seeds and sometimes also flower powered seed bombs.
„Guerrilla Gardening“ started in New York in the Seventies when Liz Christy and some friends threw seed bombs onto empty lots. Around 30 years later Richard Reynolds revived the concept in London, when he found his district too grey and too ugly. And Reynolds wanted far more than improving his own neighbourhood. The advertising expert went online with guerrillagardening.org
On his website he spreads the message „Lets fight the filth with forks and flowers“ and gives some advice – or as he puts it: „some lessons from war“ – for new flower power pirates. Reynolds succeeded. By now the online community has more than 40,000 members from around 40 countries.
Guerrilla Gardening can be a sweet and powerful protest and a quick and practical way to improve a city. But it has to be done right. That means mainly to plant only native flowers, bushes and trees and taking care for them in an environmental friendly way.
How to make a seed bomb
Seed balls made from seeds, clay, manure and water as a means to spread seeds in a difficult to reach spot or on land with dense vegetation existed long before there were talks about guerrilla gardening. The clay prevents that the seeds are scattered to the four winds or eaten by birds. When it rains the clay and compost coat supports them latching into the ground and sprouting.
The Japanese agronomist Masanobu Fukuoko rediscovered the old method during the last century and recommended it as a tool for „natural farming“. The first American green guerrillas found it a great and easy way to sow flowers and grass on abandoned land behind fences and renamed the seed balls into seed bombs or seed grenades.
People made and make seed bombs with all kind of materials – plastic balloons, egg shells, Christmas baubles, recycled paper, etc. We don’t want to stop you from being creative and experimenting, but please use only biodegradable materials – throwing glass or plastic on a sad piece of ground just adds to the mess and can cause serious harm to wildlife and people. Also abstain from chemical fertilizers.
You can buy seed bombs in several shops online (if you do it would be best to choose a shop nearby so your bombs don’t have to travel long distances, and to go for native plants), but using the classic method you can make great clay seed balls in little time and for little money. Masanobu Fukuoko recommends to mix clay, compost and seeds in a ratio 5:1:1 plus enough water to make it stick together, it shouldn’t get too soggy. Then you roll a firm ball and let it dry for some days in a shady place. Use seeds from native, resistant plants, preferably perennials; they’ll be able to look after themselves. Often wildflowers are a good choice.
The seed ball shouldn’t be much bigger than a marble and it shouldn’t be overly stuffed with seeds to avoid too much competition between the plants.