Soil blocks: good dirty fun and your seeds will love them
Many people have seen my seedlings growing in a small block of soil and wondered how I do it. I use a biscuit cutter-like device called a “Soil Blocker”. Soil Blockers come in a range of sizes that make cubes from 15mm up to 100mm.
Soil blocks do not get transplant shock when planted out in your garden as much as seedlings grown in pots do. Due to the size of Soil Blocks, you can plant large seeds (usually recommended to be sown directly in the ground) such as Peas, Beans and Corn in them and plant the blocks out three weeks later. Soil Blocks can effectively double your planting area as many small seeded vegetables (Lettuce, Broccoli, Basil etc.) can spend almost half their life in a 50mm block.
Soil Blocking is a bit messy (as you can see) as you need to work with a wet potting mix. I would only recommend Soil Blocks to serious growers as making the potting mix is rather time consuming and you need to be making a good few trays to justify the time spent making the mix, making the blocks, seeding the blocks and cleaning up afterward.
There are no manufactured potting mixes worthy of use so it needs to be home made. To make the process less time consuming I have made dry mixes of the required ingredients and bagged them up. Here is a link to the recipe I use.
I ran a well-attended workshop on how to make soil-blocks in May as part of National Permaculture week and will be running another one in the Spring. Meanwhile, rather than explain the process of making Soil Blocks, here is a link to a quick guide.
Great news- soil blocking equipment is available again in Australia through Soil Blocker. They can be also purchased from Blackberry Lane in the UK (where I bought mine and was happy with the service) and from a number of places in the US such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds which is a worker owned co-op.
If you would like to try a tray of unseeded soil blocks to see if you like them before purchasing the equipment (highly recommended) then please contact me and I can make you up a tray of 36 soil blocks for $5 plus $5 deposit for the wooden tray (refunded on its return).
Posted on March 1, 2011, in Compost, Garden tools, Gardening techniques, Seed raising, Seedlings, Soil and tagged Home made potting mix, nursery potting mix, potting mix, soil block, sustainability. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.