Butterflies and bees benefit from green spaces that include food sources like milkweed and dandelions, but there aren’t enough of these plants to keep these pollinators in cities and suburbs at their happiest. What if there was an easy way to help plant more beneficial flower seeds?
In this episode of PBS Kids’ Design Squad, kid engineer Amiyr invents a seed launching backpack to help create a more pollinator-friendly neighborhood.
After designing the invention’s parts with computer-aided design (CAD) software, Amiyr 3D-prints key pieces and assembles them inside a backpack. Small scale tests along the way show how seed balls filled with native milkweed and dandelion seeds can be launched out of a tube, propelled by a motorized fan.
If you want to make your own seed balls, be sure to use pollinator-friendly seeds that are native to where you live. Learn more about why milkweed is so important at Save Our Monarchs and Milkweed Regions & Seed Needs from Monarch Watch. Read more about how dandelions can help bees at The Guardian.
You’ll also want to use soil, not craft clay, mixed with compost and mycorrhizal fungi or worm casings, to give the seeds their best chance of germinating. This recipe from the UK’s National Trust and this Snapguide recipe are both mindful of a seed ball’s need to crumble easily.
Other factors in throw and grow gardening will also contribute to the success of this activity. “Seed depth, water, temperature, and seasonality are among the critical factors influencing seedling germination.” From Seed-Balls.com has a few tips and tricks, including how some seeds need to be planted in the fall, not the spring.
Seed-Balls also sells an easy three-compost mix to make your own, or check out their poop-shaped Guerrilla Droppings at Seed-Balls.com or on Amazon via affiliate links.
Then watch these videos about monarch butterflies, seeds, and seed dispersal, including these favorites:
• The Private Life of Plants: Dandelions
• How to Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Rest Stop
• Why Is The Very Hungry Caterpillar So Dang Hungry?
• Symbiosis & a surprising tale of species cooperation
• Seed germination to growth time lapses by Neil Bromhall