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Vintage seed bombing
June 12, 2010 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Seed-bombing filter: Are latex balloons OK to throw into vacant lots?

Brainstorming for awesome kid launching projects, I came across this instruction manual by Green Guerillas for making seed bombs which calls for using balloons or old Christmas ornaments. More recent instructions I've found have called for using a mixture of clay and fertilizer to hold it together, with no container at all.

This seems awesome, mostly because they are clearly meant to EXPLODE! as opposed to quietly dissolving in the rain (as clay does). The jury seems to be out on whether latex balloons are biodegradable (they supposedly degrade at the same rate as oak leaves, which I think take a long time to degrade). 1) Anyone have more concrete information on this? 2) What else could you put the fertilizer mixture in that would be as awesome as launching Christmas ornaments into vacant lots?

*Note: This is mostly hypothetical -- I'm newly excited about maximizing destructive impulse while minimizing actual destructiveness. We'll probably still go with clay in the long run.
posted by puckish to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe you could rig up some kind of bazooka launcher for the clay balls.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:05 AM on June 12, 2010


I'm pretty sure I remember hearing that you should never release latex balloons into the wild, as it were, because they do take an awfully long time to biodegrade and certain animals are attracted to the colors, eat it, and then obviously can't digest it.

If you want something awesomer than clay, I have a kind of dimly formed idea in my head about using some kind of paper product? Something thin that would explode upon impact? I have a picture in my head of something like those Chinese lanterns all filled with seeds - this may or may not be practicable, but maybe you could work with it. Good luck!
posted by deep thought sunstar at 9:08 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


how about funneling the mix into origami waterbombs?
like these:
http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-water-balloon.html
posted by runincircles at 9:09 AM on June 12, 2010


I wouldn't do balloons, but maybe blown-out eggshells if the kids are old enough to hold them without squeezing? You can cover the hole with a little tissue paper and glue.
posted by corey flood at 9:10 AM on June 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


If the idea is to create a projectile filled with loose material that will disperse more or less evenly over the area onto which it's thrown, you probably don't want to use anything that's going to leave the soil in one big clump. All you need out of the wrapper is for it to stay together until the moment of impact. I'd try using a couple wet coffee filters-- they'd break up as soon as they hit the ground, would likely disperse the seeds better than a balloon, and would degrade fairly quickly. Alternately, fold it into nori, corn husks, banana leaves, or other similarly flat vegetable product.
posted by The White Hat at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The christmas ornaments are presumably hollow glass spheres. Why not replace the glass container with sugar glass?

Of course, you might need to omit the water from the seed bomb; you don't want to dissolve your sugar too soon!
posted by Mike1024 at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Egg seed bombs! That's a great idea (added bonus: plants that hatch!)

Five minutes of further research reveals that Guerilla Gardening has thought about it a lot since then - I just found this page, which is pretty thorough on the subject.
posted by puckish at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2010


Consider also papier-mache. You could use something like unbleached coffee filters and balloons to form around. Let it dry, pop & remove the balloons, and fill with seeds, dirt, a touch of fertilizer, and voila - a mostly earth friendly and rapidly decomposing version. Newspaper, too, isn't a terrible idea, as many newspapers use soy-based inks these days.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2010


Is there anything that prevents you from sweeping up what you've thrown, after you are finished?
posted by Houstonian at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2010


The advantage of clay/soil based seed balls is the fact that the ball itself will act as a medium for germination. Many seeds need to be buried and not just laid on top of the ground if the dirt is not plowed or otherwise disturbed (I'm picturing a compacted relatively barren lot). While launching them in an eggshell would be cool, I doubt you'd have a significant germination rate.

Don't underestimate the kids. We tend to think they want something explosive, but kids I've worked with LOVE seedballs of the clay and dirt variety, especially if you let them make them first. This includes cynical inner city kids as well as rural ones.

Whatever you do, please don't throw latex into the lot. Birds and other small animals do in fact eat them and often get sick or die. The city of Toronto has gone so far as to ban them from city parks and festivals on city property.
posted by scrute at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe you could amp up the fun factor by having a launching methods training phase, like building a small PVC trebuchet, giant surgical tubing slingshot, or learning how to use an old-fashioned sling.
posted by ctmf at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2010


In lieu of more spectacular exploding projectiles, that is.
posted by ctmf at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2010


What about sticking the seeds into potatoes, and then using a potato gun to launch them?
posted by incessant at 12:48 PM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're going to use eggs, don't worry about how big the holes are in the egg. Make them big enough to blow the egg out easily. Dab a bit of glue or honey around the edge and use a bit of biodegradable recycled napkin or thin paper to seal up the hole that you made.
posted by CathyG at 4:22 PM on June 12, 2010


Expensive, but SuckUK have clay hand grenades filled with seeds...
posted by MuffinMan at 9:20 AM on June 13, 2010


Consider also papier-mache. You could use something like unbleached coffee filters and balloons to form around. Let it dry, pop & remove the balloons, and fill with seeds, dirt, a touch of fertilizer, and voila - a mostly earth friendly and rapidly decomposing version. Newspaper, too, isn't a terrible idea, as many newspapers use soy-based inks these days.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:41 PM on June 12 [+] [!]


Nitpickery: Some of the environmental "Good" of this project would be negated by using baloons to form a once off mould. Why not use a round bowl, make two then paste together once filled?
posted by Quadlex at 8:13 PM on June 16, 2010


What about sticking the seeds into potatoes, and then using a potato gun to launch them?

I suspect this would end up growing mostly potatoes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:28 PM on June 21, 2010


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