Attention Guerrilla Gardeners: the Liz Christy Seed Bomb (A How-to)

In 1973, on a mission to green Manhattan, Liz Christy and her band of green guerrillas took to the streets armed with weapons of mass creation: seed bombs. Liz and her army hurled these homemade concoctions into the air well into the wee hours of the morning, as New Yorkers were fast asleep, unaware of the green revolution unfolding at their doorsteps.

I have come across several recipes for seed bombs, but none as elaborate as the Liz Christy. My daughter and I made seed bombs last year, and along with her kindergarten class, we bombed a spot next to the Laurier Metro station, but saw no results. I have a feeling that the mix of wildflower seeds was a favourite among our feathered friends.

(If you are a seasoned green thumb and think you could improve on the following recipe or seed mixture, please leave a comment so the green revolution may continue.)

Anyway, the Liz Christy appears to have been a little better designed. Bombers could use either a balloon or a glass Christmas decoration for the bomb casing. A funnel was used to add the seeds, some time-released fertilizer pellets, moistened peat moss crumbs, some tissue paper and finally some water before the bomb was tied off (balloon) or plugged with a small piece of cloth (glass Christmas ornament) and shaken vigorously.*

Bombers were sent on a reconnaissance mission ahead of time to determine how many seed bombs would be required to cover their target area. They also received instructions on bombing techniques: an overhand throw for the balloon bomb and underhand lob for the glass ornament. Vacant lots without any public access were their primary targets.

Bombing took place throughout 1973 until the City surrendered a vacant lot in Manhattan on the north-east corner of Bowery and Houston to Liz Christy and her crew for the symbolic sum of $1 a month in April of 1974.

The seed mix changed with the seasons to increase their chances of green advances.

Early Spring: Batchelor Buttons, Diathunus, Grass, Wildflowers
Late Spring: Cosmos, Portulaca, Zinnias, Nicotiana
Early Summer: Sunflower, Ornamental Grass Mix, Zinnias, Marigolds
Early Fall: Soy Beans, Clover, Winter Rye, Cleome

Personally, I would opt for the balloon seed bomb casing, as it can hold more ammo (Maybe Christmas ornaments were larger and made of thicker, more resistant glass in the early 70s) . I also think that balloons are easier to transport.

I found the glass Christmas ornament a bit odd given the broken glass it would produce, but I think we can cut these do-gooders some slack. After all, what's the fun of bombing without a resounding crash...Just don't let your children play in the area afterwards.



C. McKane | May 3, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Wow, I never heard of Liz Christy before or seed bombs.
I'm thinking of places nearby to try it out on already.
Are you taking pictures of your seed bombs this year? Love to see them.

Opinionated Ant

Heather | May 3, 2009 at 10:10 PM

Yes, we made our seed bombs yesterday, and we were looking for a site today. I think we found it, but I'm going to have to do a clean-up to see what the soil is like.

Please let me know what you do and what your results are. We'd love to hear about it.

Anonymous | May 4, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Probably a silly question, but do the balloons explode when you throw them?

Heather | May 4, 2009 at 4:27 PM

My husband disagrees with the Liz Christy technique of throwing the balloon overhand. He thinks that it should be lobbed very high in the air so that the impact breaks the balloon. I just cleared the vacant lot we are going to bomb tonight. I'll write a post about what happens. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous | May 20, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Seed bombing is a great thing, but I would really urge you to consider the negative impacts of using materials like glass and even water balloons. Alternatively, I would recommend making seed bombs out of a material that will biodegrade. The following websites have recipes that involve clay as a binding agent:

On a final note: Shattering glass where any person might play is not the act of a do-gooder. Maybe your kid won't play where you break them, but they are not the only children in the world. Although using Christmas ornaments may have been Liz Christy's MO, you can do better.


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