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Friday, March 12, 2010

soil blocks

I'd like to introduce you to my new favorite product - soil block makers. I never thought I'd like them as much as I do, but they're simply a wonderful way to start seedlings.

Here is the smallest soil block maker. It makes twenty, teeny tiny little 3/4" blocks, with a small divot on top to drop your seed into. since the blocks are so miniscule, quite a lot of potential new plants will fit onto a tray.

See? On this one tray, 200 herb seedlings have begun their lives. Look at those giant ones - that's borage. Now, once the seedlings are big enough, they can be "potted up" to a larger soil block. What I've found works for me is to wait until the first set of true leaves has just begun to show. That way, the little guys will have some roots, but not so many as to be a problem.

When making your blocks, start out with a peat-based potting soil, then add enough water to make it good and wet. It should be somewhere between peanut butter and cake batter. Since you're adding all that water, use a flat-bottomed tray or tub or pan of some sort. I have found it easier to use more water rather than less. The blocks seem to hold together better.

This is the two inch block maker. It makes divots the right size to drop the 3/4" blocks into. So now that you have a big mound of wet soil, push the tool into the soil firmly and pack as much in as it will take, pushing on the handle to firm everything up.

When you lift it out, it should be tightly packed with soil.

Now, place it on the tray, squeeze the handle and lift up. You should have a nice row of four blocks. Repeat until you have as many as you need.

Lifting the little seedling either by its leaves or its block, drop it into the square hole.

That's it! Here is the same borage from above, but now residing in two inch square blocks with more room to grow.

before and after

Seedlings that are going to be sold will be transplanted into four inch pots so they can have a really strong root system before going to their new homes. Also, putting them in pots makes them more transportable. But the ones that will be planted here will go from the two inch blocks right into the ground. This will keep my garbage can from filling up with disposable plastic pots.

1 comment:

Jennifer and Steve said...

super fun! we've always thought these would be the way to go.