Why Seed Bombs and Seed Paper Don’t Grow

It is SUCH a cute idea! Seeds embedded into paper, or other materials, shaped into cool shapes, or just made into cards. Give them to your friends, they say. They’ll love the surprise plants that come up, they say. Spread a world of color and growing things!

Only one problem. The recipe to make these things goes something like this:

Put paper scraps and water in the blender. Blend to make a sludge. Stir in seeds, and pour onto a paper making frame. Alternately, drain the sludge to make a paste, mix in the seeds, and form into neat little shapes. Let the shapes or paper dry, and you have a nifty thing to give away.


Seeds + Moisture = GERMINATION.

Germination + Drought = DEATH

If you mix seeds with water, and leave them in a moist environment for several hours, they germinate. They come out of stasis, stimmulated by the moisture. And then you let the environment dry out. So they die. All of this happens silently inside the seed hull – because you’ve given them enough moisture to bring them to life, but not enough to grow enough to be visible. And then you KILLED them.

And then you give them away to someone else who buries it in some dirt, and watches, and nothing comes up, so they figure they forgot to water it or something.

There are a VERY few seeds that can actually survive this – those meant to survive a wet season before they germinate, or those that require fire, or other exposure to remove a seed coating prior to germination. Your average garden seed, either edible plants or not, simply cannot survive this.

I’ve pointed this out to people promoting this project. The response I got was that people make these all the time, and I was directed to many websites showing how to make them.

They are right. People DO make these all the time.

But people NEVER actually GROW these things. They try, but they don’t grow.

Ok, so why did someone come up with this idea in the first place? Either deception, or ignorance. In this day and age, it could easily be either one.

I’m thinking seed paper had to have been deception, because it started with one of those trendy “green” companies (and scams are rampant in that arena – sorry folks, but they are, and people who REALLY want to live lightly on the land are the first to admit it!).

I’m thinking some crafty homeschool mom or kindergarten teacher came up with the seed bombs, figuring if paper, then why not bombs? They likely made one up, then ran straight out to test it, before it dried. Voila! It worked! And they never even thought that it would not after it dried out, even though they teach their little students to make sure their plant gets water when they send them home with a bean plant in a styrofoam cup!

But then, a dying just germinated seed that hasn’t even put out roots yet doesn’t visibly wilt, wither, and turn brown when you forget to water it. It just quietly expires and leaves you wondering why it never came up.

So what is the REAL lesson here?

We KNOW that if you get a seed wet, and then let it dry out again, it will kill it, and it will not germinate. Every gardener knows that! Every person who stores seeds knows that – they know that you have to protect them from getting wet. We know this so well that we’d NEVER think of taking a packet of seeds, soaking it in water, letting it dry out, and then send it to someone to plant! But that is just what this project does!

Some very smart gardeners have passed this project on as a neat idea. Why would they do that? Why don’t they apply what they KNOW to this project?

Sometimes when information comes from a source we view as “an authority”, or from someone who says it works, it can cause us to doubt our own knowledge. We think of what we know, then we dismiss it, thinking maybe they know something we do not! We LET someone else cause us to doubt FACTS THAT WE KNOW.

This actually happens a lot. This is why wordmasters and Politicians can twist things around. This is how an entire nation can be persuaded to set aside elementary school math and buy into a political scheme that hasn’t a hope of giving them what they want. This is how drug users can persuade themselves that their actions aren’t hurting anyone but themselves.

So the first lesson is, don’t bother making seed bombs or seed paper for gifts if the process involves getting the seeds wet (I’ll bet there are plenty of other creative ways to make seed bombs).

The second lesson is, trust what you know to be true, no matter who is saying otherwise. And if you still doubt, TEST IT!

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