Seedbomb vending machine

I recently spotted this Seedbombs vending machine in Marin. Each bomb -- a little nugget of clay, compost, and seeds -- was 50 cents. It led me to look into the interesting history of "seed bombing." From Wikipedia:
Seedbomg The term "seed grenade" was first used by Liz Christy in 1973 when she started the "Green Guerrillas". The first seed grenades were made from condoms filled with local wildflower seeds, water and fertilizer. They were tossed over fences onto empty lots in New York City in order to make the neighborhoods look better. It was the start of the guerrilla gardening movement...

The earliest records of aerial reforestation date back from 1930. In this period, planes were used to distribute seeds over certain inaccessible mountains in Honolulu after forest fires.[2] Seed bombing is also widely used in Africa; where they are put in barren or simply grassy areas. With technology expanding, it is now placed in a biodegradable container and "bombed" grenade-style onto the land. As the sprout grows, the container biodegrades and the plant grows. It is usually done as a large-scale project with hundreds dropped in a single area at any one time. Therefore, a barren land can be turned into a garden in a little over a month.

Seedbombs by Greenaid

Seed bombing (Wikipedia)

"On Seedballs"

"On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries" by Richard Reynolds (Amazon)

"How to Make a Seed Bomb" (Instructables)


  1. And following close upon the heels of these efforts are armies of the faithful pulling up all those plants (arbitrarily) named “invasive species”

  2. The Heath Ceramics retail location on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles has once of these machines as well.

    1. Ironic that “Green Guerillas” created litter on vacant land.

      Wildflowers are litter to you?

      1. Broken condoms are. In the article, it says the original seed bombs were made using condoms.

    2. To be fair, latex is a naturally derived biodegradable material; especially in the thin gauges used for condoms. I doubt they would have stuck around for long — if they were even visible at all — under the mounds of earth that exploded out from them.

    1. Well, I was going to say that the “green cross” symbol used on the machine usually implies something else…

  3. I was wondering how long until a concern troll would visit this thread. Arguably, about 27 minutes…

  4. At the risk of being that “concern troll” I’m not saying this isn’t a cool idea but please take care. The potential for spreading non-natives and noxious weeds through this sort of thing is just huge.

    1. Agreed. I’m an invasive species biologist in the Saint Louis area; this kind of product would reek havoc on the Mississippi Valley.

  5. Amoeba Records on Sunset Blvd. has one of these machines right inside the entrance, next to the stairs going down to the parking lot. They don’t use condoms any longer, btw.

  6. at my university this was done to great effect with Hemp plants alongside the annuals planted by the city each year.

  7. has something sort of like a seedbomb called lifeboxes. it’s a cardboard box that is impregnated with fungi spores and old growth forest seeds. if you or your company regularly ships things, you could start shipping them in lifeboxes.
    they aren’t especially cheap. you could make it optional for the customer to request one.
    i did a little guerilla gardening this year, planted a row of zinnias in the new vacant lot across the street, where vandals from city hall had torn down a perfectly good house, but somebody went over them with a mower.

  8. Thank you for posting info on the Seed Bombs. The company which produces the bombs and owns the vending machines works with non profit organizations for fund raising purposes. My daughter has a seed bomb machine in the lobby of her school and the school gets a percentage of each bomb sold. Kids love them. Not only are they great teaching tools about the wonders of nature, they are also a cool prank to play on your friends with over priced, boring landscaping in their front yard. Bombs Away!

  9. IIRC, Allan Sherman mentions seed bombing in The Rape of the A*P*E*, referring to an incident when cops noticed a woman tossing handfuls of gelatin capsules from a moving car. Thinking she was dumping contraband, they arrested her for possession of a controlled substance — later dropping charges once the lab determined the capsules contained potting soil, fertilizer, and wildflower seeds.

    As Rape was published in 1973, the incident presumably predates the Green Guerillas’ condoms. I suspect seed bombing has been newly discovered repeatedly over the years. Case in point, a quick web search in an effort to verify my memories of Sherman found a British blog’s called The “Seedpill” Project. The first entry says, “My ‘Seed Pill’ is a new version of the seed bomb….”

  10. This is such a good idea that I’m completely pissed off that I didn’t think of it first.

  11. Helium balloons containing seeds of
    interest. Performance art.

    Could be bioterrorism, introduce invasives into pristine inaccessable wilderness.

    Or bioactivism, spread oppressed plants
    like the Cannabis sp. mentioned, poppies.

  12. I hate this concept, but it’s trendy. Here are the issues:

    1. Go back and read Masanobu Fukuoku’s One Straw Revolution. He used seed bombs to interseed crops, because the clay kept the birds from eating his seeds. Great idea! Note: crop use, one species interseeded.

    2. Problems with seed bombing in guerilla gardening:
    a. Seed bombs may not break. That’s happened to me.

    b. Seed bombs are only ~1″ across. They contain upwards of 100 seeds. I’ve been growing out a seed ball, and I’ve gotten 4 plants out of it that survived. Many seeds sprouted and died. Bottom line: you lose a lot.

    3. Issues about planting natives this way:
    c. be CAREFUL about your seed source. NEVER use wildflower mixes, because these often contain random species and high weed content.

    d. You want to plant LOCALLY NATIVE plants. Every species is native somewhere, including all weeds. Do your research.

    4. Be honest with yourself. Is seed-balling a personal ego stroke, or are you trying to get some plants to grow somewhere they need to be?

    If it’s the former, I strongly suggest the related hobby of GUERILLA WEEDING. There are massive budget cutbacks on government funded wildlands weeding, and the need is increasing all over. Plus hand-weeding gives you lots of exercise.

    If you’re honest about revegetating, do your research, buy your own seeds, and make your own seed balls. It’s not hard, it’s not expensive, and you can tailor your recipe, get your kids involved, and do some good all at once.

    Finally remember that many of the worst environmental problems we deal with, from kudzu and other weeds to global warming, come from our inherent desire to make the planet “Better.” Don’t add to them. Please.

    1. Seed bombs are only ~1″ across. They contain upwards of 100 seeds. I’ve been growing out a seed ball, and I’ve gotten 4 plants out of it that survived. Many seeds sprouted and died. Bottom line: you lose a lot.

      Yep, that’s how it works out in the wild, too. Many flowering plants produce hundreds or thousands of seeds every season, and only a handful of those flourish to become mature plants in the next generation.

      (Which is probably just as well, or we’d all be neck-deep in wildflowers after about three generations.)

  13. I always used a hand full of grass seeds as my weed bomb. Not as refined as the products mentioned thus far, but definitly much cheaper and using the right seeds also very effective on lawns and greens!

  14. Seed bombs are incredibly easy to make.


    You’ll Need:

    Potting mix or compost
    Seaweed solution
    Potter’s ball clay (available from art/craft stores)
    Mixing bowl and measure

    Take one part of potting mix and one part of the potter’s ball clay. Now the seed. I’m using cleome seed which is very fine, so I’m not going to use a full cup. If I was using sunflower seed, which is large, then I’d use a full measure. And then you mix the dry ingredients. Drop by drop, you add the seaweed solution – don’t make it too wet.

    Now this is like making dough. You need to get the sort of consistency that allows you to mould them into balls about the size of a golf ball. Once you have rolled them into shape, they’re ready to dry.

    You need to completely dry your seed bombs so that the moisture doesn’t start them germinating. Put them in a warm, dry place – like a windowsill. Alternatively, you could use a dehydrator.

    ————————- (End cut paste from link) ————-
    What this is good for is perennials. Get some nice flowers or something and lob them around your garden. The idea being that when it next rains OR you next water, the bomb breaks down and provides all the nutrients your seeds need to get started.

  15. Southern California seedbombers might want to know about the Theodore Payne Foundation, which sells California-native wildflower seeds in bulk, in quantities ranging from standard seed packets to multiple pounds. They have individual species and some nice mixes for different purposes like shady areas, low shrubs, and hummingbird and butterfly favorites.

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