Flower power

Jan Goodey reviews Seedbombs: going wild with flowers, by Josie Jeffery
September 2011

The beauty of this book lies in its simplicity, colours and the practical import of its message. Seedbombs originated in 1970s’ New York. The term was originally ‘seed grenade’ and comprised wildflower seeds, water and fertiliser all wrapped in a condom. They were lobbed over fences into vacant lots, making drab neighbourhoods colourful.

Colour is something that author, Josie Jeffery, 33, doesn’t lack. Brought up on a bus, she spent her childhood home-educated with mum and dad rescuing tree saplings from the sides of roads, potting them up and storing them in the belly box before finding new homes en route.

She says: ‘I learned loads, and now I find there are many cracks, potholes, pits and wastelands in our urban surroundings that could benefit from the subtlety of a wildflower seedbomb, an incognito individual or collective energy of guerrilla gardeners.’

The book itself has six sections: the history (from North American First Nation tribes to ancient Japan and subsequent reintroduction by the revered author of One‑Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka); contemporary seedbombs; guerrilla gardening; a plant directory; seeds; and seedbomb recipes.

These days, you’ll be pleased to hear, condoms have given way to a sticky mix of clay, water, seeds and compost the size of ping-pong ball. According to Jeffery, who runs workshops at schools, community gardens and festivals, the seedbomb will either keep its form and the seeds germinate and sprout from the ball, or if it rains a lot, dissolve and scatter seeds until they germinate either on the earth’s surface or through getting trampled.

Fukuoka, a pioneer of sustainable agriculture, was a big believer in the ‘natural farming’ capacity of seedbombs to create food crop fields, meadowland and even replant areas beset by drought.

Whether you want to launch one as a political statement (as happened recently at a mass seedbombing in Brighton where hundreds were thrown over fencing at an evicted guerrilla garden) or simply to try something that little bit horticulturally different, this book is an essential manual and a delightful pearl of wisdom.


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