Category Archives: Garden tools
After having a less than exceptional result using seedling cells to grow my seedlings, I have decided to keep making soil blocks for my market stall. To make this work, I purchased a new blocking machine from England. The new blocker makes slightly smaller blocks (1.5″) than the previous 2″ blocks. At the next Glenbrook market everything is back in 2″ blocks (the new machine did not arrive in time). For the April markets (and the soon to be attended Marrickville markets) most seedlings will be in the new 1.5″ blocks and remain 50c each. Larger seedlings will be in the 2″ blocks and these will cost 85c.
To find out which seedlings grow in which blocks…you are going to have to wait until the April markets or, if you own a copy, turn to page 152 of “The new organic grower”
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).
These are just a few places around where you can buy great gardening tools and other products. Most of these sites also offer great resources to the grower such as planting information and guides.
Digadoo – Very well made hand tools.
Gundaroo Tiller – Lots of specialist hand tools, market garden gear and lots of resources.