Play with Mud and Grow a Garden
Get a little muddy and celebrate International Mud Day (June 29) with an easy and wonderfully mucky gardening project. If you can't wait until June, then so be it! Mud ball gardening helps nature take root in the most extraordinary places. Each package of soil, seed, and compost provides the opportunity for plants to sprout!
Ingredients for a perfect mudball
The idea is to create mud balls that hold their shape so that the seeds stay safely embedded inside when the balls are distributed. That means you need soil that has some clay in it. If you’re using a commercial garden soil mix for this project, you’ll need to add some clay. But if you are digging dirt from your yard for this project, first check and see if it already has a high enough clay content using the soil snake test.
Do the soil snake
Place a tablespoon or so of dirt in your palm, then add a tiny bit of water and mix the soil into a ball. Now roll your palms together to form a soil snake. If the soil holds its snake shape, then it is perfect for this project. If it falls apart easily, you’ll have to add some dry clay (check at your art supply shop or health food store).
What you’ll need
- dry clay
- a little water
1. Combine 2 parts soil, 2 parts compost and 4 parts clay together, mixing well with your hands until crumbly.
2. Sprinkle seeds into mix (approx. 1 part) and mush about some more.
3. Here comes the messy part! Slowly add water a little at a time while mixing. Stop when the mixture looks like cookie dough and will hold together when squished into a ball.
4. Make mud balls approximately 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. Set aside to dry. Drying may take a day or so. When they are dry, load them into buckets to carry.
3. Wind up, aim, and toss your mud balls into your new garden site! Vacant lots can be invigorated with new life, but you should find out who currently owns it. Make sure to seed on your own property or ask permission first!
Mud ball gardening fun fact
Wow! Seed balls were first attributed to Japanese gardener Masanobu Fukuoka. He thought children were the perfect seed ball distributers. We agree!
Mud ball seeds tip
Select noninvasive seed species for your mud balls. If you’re unsure, check with your local invasive plant council for seeds to avoid planting alien invaders! Native plant seeds are always a better choice since they are adapted to your specific area. Try anything from wildflower seeds to attract native bees and butterflies, to easy-to-grow veggies like zucchinis, cucumbers, or tomatoes.
Return to the scene
Go back to your guerrilla seeding sites over the coming weeks and see what has sprouted!
Note the results of your seed bombs: Are other creatures using the area? Do you see any insects, birds, or mammals using the new habitat? Did all the mud balls sprout life? Why or why not? Do you think all seeds in nature survive?
For another great day in the mud, try creating a mud kitchen for your little chef in training!
For more ideas on how to give nature a hand, visit Nature Kids BC.