Sowing & Spreading Wild Flowers with Seed Bombs
Sowing and spreading wild flowers with seed bombs is a fun activity for children and a great way to help the environment. Sadly, many of the wild flower meadows in the UK have been wiped out, causing a serious impact on wildlife. Many pollinators such as bees, bats, and butterflies as well as a significant amount of wildlife need wildflowers for their survival. Having wildflowers also helps gardens and farms because they support a range of insects that pollinate and wildlife that control pests.
Making seed bombs is a way of sowing and spreading wild flowers. Children can plant them in the garden or throw them around their neighbourhood or on the side of the road on the way to school. They can find abandonded spaces and plant seed bombs to help nature regrow.
Making seed bombs is is a fun way to get children playing and learning outdoors. It’s also an opportunit to get them thinking about seeds, how they spread and what they need to grow.
What you need
- Wildflower seeds
- Dirt (worm castings works well)
- Dry fertilizer (optional) / seed box
To start, we went around the garden and collected worm castings (worm poop). We were able to find some worms in the process of doing this. This was a chance for my son to see where worms live and observe what they were doing.
Later, we added wildflower seeds and some additional seed mix (seeds and dry fertilizer) and mixed it with our hands. We added water until it was a good consistency to be able to roll it into balls. After we finished making them, we enjoyed throwing them around the garden and the neighbourhood.
Questions to ask
- What insects do you find in the garden? What have you seen them doing there? What are the different ways minibeasts/insects help or hurt plants/gardens?
- What do seeds need to grow? Where might be good places to put the seed bombs? Why?
What they get from sowing and spreading wild flowers with seed bombs
Making seed bombs is a lovely way for children to help the environment. It’s a great way to get them learning and playing outside, and provides an opportunity to discuss how things breakdown and how dirt is made. My son thinks it’s great that soil is essentially worm poop. It’s also a chance to get children examining and thinking about seeds, how some spread/disperse and how they grow.
Mixing up the mud and seeds is a fun sensory experience as well as a fine motor skills activity (like playing with play dough). My eldest son often doesn’t like getting his hands dirty but this is a fun way to get him practicing, and helps him learn that dirt is ok. There has been more and more research which shows the benefit of exposure to to the bacteria in soil such as M. vaccae. Mary O’Brien (2004) accidentally discovered that exposure to bacteria from soil improved quality of life in chemotherapy patients. Further research has also linked M. vaccae to improved wellbeing, reseliance to stress, and allergies (Bloomfield et al. 2016, Smith et al. 2019).
However, if children are really resistant to touching mud, they can do an alternative method. Use a spoon to mix it up, then scoop some into a piece of paper and then pull and twist up the paper to squish it up into a ball (see above right photo).
Take it further
See my post on collecting seeds from flowers so children can collect their own seeds to put into seed bombs. For other ideas for activities in the garden during the autumn and winter, see my post here.
O’Brien, M.D., Anderson, H., Kaukel, E., O’Byrne, K., Pawlicki, M & Von Pawel, J. (2004). SRL172 (killed Mycobacterium vaccae) in addition to standard chemotherapy improves quality of life without affecting survival, in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: phase III results. Annals of Oncology Jun;15(6):906-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15151947
Smith, D.G., Martinelli, R., Besra, G.S. et al. (2019) Identification and characterization of a novel anti-inflammatory lipid isolated from Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil-derived bacterium with immunoregulatory and stress resilience properties. Psychopharmacology 236, 1653–1670 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05253-9
Bloomfield SF, Rook GA, Scott EA et al (2016) Time to abandon the hygiene hypothesis: new perspectives on allergic disease, the human microbiome, infectious disease prevention and the role of targeted hygiene. Perspect Public Health 136:213–224. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913916650225