Dirt Balls

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It is that time of year when many plants are going to seed.  What to do with all of those seeds?  Even the Automatic Garden has only so much room.  A great solution is to make Dirt Balls and give them away.  This is a great project for kids as well as adults.  Dirt Balls are even sold in some mail order catalogs.  Think Christmas!

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Here is what you will need:

3 parts fine-grained compost – if children are making them, use fine potting soil

1 part seed – a single kind or mix seeds that have the same growing conditions

5 parts powdered clay – it can be purchased at art or pottery supply stores   (see photo above)

1-2 parts water

Next:

Combine compost (or soil) and seeds mixing well.

Add powdered clay continuing to mix

Slowly add water until a dough is formed

Roll balls about the size of a quarter and let them dry

This is very open-ended as to the amount you may want to make.  Use a recycled plastic container as a mixing bowl.

We made these at Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center.  It was a way to share and plant wildflowers.  The balls are left or thrown into an area and the ball “melts” away with the rains and the seeds grow.  The compost provides some nutrients. It is not a precise way to plant a garden.   Dirt balls not something that you would fill a bed with. The balls need to dry first and could be put in a baggie or container until used.  There are always hazards working with compost (bacteria) or dry clay (inhaling) and you will have to judge that.

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2 Comments on “Dirt Balls”

  1. I’ve never heard of this…then what do you do, plant them directly in the garden in the spring? Does it matter what kind of clay? I would want to make sure the clay didn’t have anything in it that would be problematic in our soil, for example. Also, do they dry into a hard piece or is it flaky (i.e. do you they have to be wrapped in something else)? Thanks for sharing!!!

    • We made these at Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center. It was a way to share and plant wildflowers. The balls are left or thrown into an area and the ball “melts” away with the rains and the seeds grow. It is not a precise way to plant a garden. The clay is a dry pottery clay and its purpose is to hold the ball together. I have no idea what impact it would have on the soil, but it is not something that you would fill a bed with. The balls need to dry first and could be put in a baggie or container until used. There are always hazards working with compost (bacteria) or dry clay (inhaling) and you will have to judge that. Here, we plant wildflowers in the fall. You will need to follow the traditions of your area.


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