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Artist shows how to make mud spheres for spreading native flower

There's an art to making seed bombs

Visiting artist Mike Bianco (right) watches as Cornell College students gather a compost, clay, seed and water mixture during a workshop in McWethy Hall on the Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Bianco led the workshop on making the seed bombs, which help spread plants needed by pollinating insects. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Visiting artist Mike Bianco (right) watches as Cornell College students gather a compost, clay, seed and water mixture during a workshop in McWethy Hall on the Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Bianco led the workshop on making the seed bombs, which help spread plants needed by pollinating insects. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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MOUNT VERNON — Homeland Security need not worry about the hundreds of bombs assembled Wednesday afternoon on the Cornell College campus.

If they go off at all, the seed bombs will go off next summer in a profusion of native flowers and grasses attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinating insects.

“Just put them in places you want to see the habitat grow,” said visiting artist Mike Bianco, who explained how to make seed bombs to about 20 Cornell students and staff.

Using a mixture of clay, compost, seeds and water, the students hand-molded hundreds of the golf-ball-sized spheres.

As the spheres dried, they looked like mud pies waiting to be flattened — and the students’ hands looked like they’d been making mud pies.

No special care is required to prepare the soil for a seed bomb, according to Bianco, an artist, curator, researcher, activist and beekeeper at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

“It’s a numbers game. The bombs have everything a seed needs to germinate. Just let nature take its course,” he said.

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Iowa, with its 23 million acres of chemically treated row crops, meeds more pollinator-suitable habitat, he said.

Sue Coleman, gallery coordinator for the Cornell Art Department, said she plans to place the seed bombs she made on a sloping section of her Mount Vernon property.

“I’ll try to make a hospitable place for them, but I won’t make a big deal of it,” she said.

Cornell freshman Camden Grunderman of Naples, Fla., said he would toss some of his bombs near the soccer field where a prairie restoration is underway.

Mount Vernon was the scene of a larger seed bomb party in July, when RAGBRAI riders passing through town were recruited to toss bombs containing the seed of milkweed, essential monarch butterfly habitat, into road ditches as they pedaled through Linn and Johnson counties.

“Our Future Exists Because We Have Imagined It,” an exhibit by Bianco, will be on display in Cornell’s Peter Paul Luce Gallery from Sunday through Dec. 6.

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