Guerrilla Gardening

Thoughts on guerrilla gardening?

  • Good for natives?
  • Problematic?

An overview: Guerilla Gardening and DIY Seed Bombs

Related: Ideas on Fostering Nature in Your/Our Area

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Unless you live in an ideal climate with good soil conditions, seed bombs will not likely do much.

I spoke with a native nursery specialist who was not much in favor them.

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My version of this is to shake fluffy wildflower seeds from my yard on windy days and hope they sprout in my neighbors’ yards. Spiny goldenweed, Desert willow, wire lettuce, and milkweed for example.

Honestly, the best thing we can do is talk to people. Show them pictures of flowers and pollinators and share why it’s important to grow native plants and provide habitat (as people were discussing in the linked “Fostering Nature” thread).

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My thinking: respect other people’s property, first and foremost. Don’t intentionally alter your neighbor’s property without their consent. And of course if it’s illegal, don’t do it.

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We’ve had to pull a bunch of invasive plants out at Sugarloaf State Park (California) because people thought sprinkling “wildflower seed” packages around after the fires would be helpful. Hint: Cape Daisy seeds in natural areas are not, in fact, helpful.

Seed bombs in general are a very ineffective way of planting things, you’d be better off just dumping a seed packet out on the ground in most cases.

However, I’m all in favor of guerilla gardening in abandoned urban areas. Just make sure you’re not planting anything that’s going to be horribly noxious and invasive - it’s generally best to stick to whatever wildflowers or small ornamentals already grow in the neighborhood.

When I’m walking around town, if I see by a california poppy going to seed I’ll grab some seed heads and sprinkle them in tree planters as I pass by. They’re pretty, and easy to remove if someone decides they don’t want them there.

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The only thing that scares me here is the “good intensions monster”. This strikes me as the type of thing that gets done without a lot of knowledge of what the proper plants for an area would be. I mentioned in a previous post about how someone planted a bunch of non-native Lupines on conservation properties without realizing that the native species has a similar name. I worry that good intentioned people would put the wrong plants in the wrong environments under the banner of “native” with a worst case scenario being someone throwing seeds into remnant habitat.

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Does this work, even before the poppy pods have fully dried, or do you pick them when ripe and they split in your hand?

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Abandoned lots where they’re not a nuisance/won’t make anyone’s job harder? Absolutely. Someone’s yard? No. Ideally only native plants used as well.

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Most seeds are actually viable surprisingly early on in development, but I try to wait until they’re nearly ready to split open, because in our climate they’ll probably have to overwinter before conditions are right. More mature seeds can withstand that better.

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The closest I’ve come to guerrilla gardening is adding Legumes (Fabaceae) to lawns, which act a bit like fertilizer because the roots/bacteria fix nitrogen:

I’ve found both growing in my lawn, I let the black medick grow, but pull the bur clover. When green, I toss the spirally bur clover fruit into my salad, has a good flavor, I think!

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i think the best version of guerilla gardening is to find a public space nearby that obviously isn’t being maintained, and go out there and take care of it… and be obvious about it. try to be there when the official caretakers are around, and talk to them about what you’re doing so that they don’t end up destroying your work. share your story with others.

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I haven’t known the seed bomb crowd to be very localized. If people were selling seed bombs only in their own state or province, I wouldn’t be as concerned by it. I feel like it has potential when planned splendidly, but the concept of “shooting seeds” seems to not attract the most thorough planners.

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Locally been fighting back white strawberry plants that people keep transplanting into the bird sanctuary because they think the birds want them. Animals don’t want just any plants, unfortunately.

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Reminds me of “native seed mix”… which for vendors is more like “native to the world”.

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Careful not to spread invasives, though. Medicago spp. can be very invasive.

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I think that seed bombs are most useful on sites where the soil is covered with mulch. If there’s a thick layer of grass or wood chips, the seed bomb can help keep the seeds moist and give them good contact with the soil. If the seeds can’t contact the soil because they’re held up by organic matter, the seed bomb may help them germinate. Otherwise, I agree. In most cases, broadcasting seeds is the best option for minimally laborious planting.

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We don’t appreciate the warfare rhetoric for this practice.

We don’t have vacant lots nearby in this overdeveloped suburb. If we did, rather than do this clandestinely, we would try to befriend property owners and collaborate.

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Yah, if you live in an area were it rains every week and the soil surface is nice, you might get some plants out of a seed bomb.

But if one is just tossing them into empty lots without supplemental watering, it’s less likely that a full grown plant will result.

Then, too, as others mentioned, picking truly appropriate seeds can be tricky.

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or perhaps sown in this case :grinning:

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Good point about the rhetoric, have you (plural) found any other terms to describe this activity? I’ve come across another, similar activity where “native” seeds are shaken onto vacant land from salt & pepper shakers, but am unaware of what to call it…