Economical Soil Blocks.Never have to buy pots again! With this new method of staring off seedlings you will never need to use a plastic pot again. Not only does this save you money, but it will also help to save the environment as plastic doesn’t decompose and pollutes the atmosphere. There are other alternatives you can use that are eco friendly such as newspaper, toilet roll tubes and even egg shells, however we prefer this method as its quick and easy and can simply be transferred after the germination process is complete. Soil blocks are compressed cube of soil. The special blocking mix holds its shape while the seed germinates it is held together by interlocking organic fibres and natural soil glues. Soil blocking mix can be purchased ready made or you can make it yourself with ingredients most gardeners will already have. Using soil blocks to start garden seeds offers a host of benefits over other methods. First, there is no pot to buy, store or throw away. Second, the blocking mix is nutrient rich, eliminating the need for additional fertilization until planting time. Also, the blocking mix is made of living soil instead of sterilized ingredients. Exposure to beneficial soil-borne microbes at the time of germination helps the young seedling grow a strong healthy root system, uptake nutrients efficiently and develop resistance to diseases and pests. As an additional bonus, the cube shape of soil blocks is a greater volume than cylindrical peat pellets or tapered pots. The added volume offers a larger root zone for the seedlings. The larger root zone and lack of disturbance related to “unpotting” allows seedlings to hit the ground running.
To make the mix yourself:To make blocking mix, add these ingredients in the order listed, mixing thoroughly each time an ingredient is added. A wheelbarrow and hoe make a good mixing bowl and spoon. The amounts are listed in “parts.” use a half gallon-sized container to measure, and this recipe fills a plastic paint bucket. This mix works best if made ahead of time and allowed to stand for several weeks before using.
- 3 parts milled peat moss
- 1/16 part pulverized dolomitic lime
- 2 parts perlite
- ⅛ part dry organic all-purpose plant food (the finer textured the better)
- 1 part garden soil (right out of your garden, not the bought stuff)
- 2 parts high-quality finished compost
- The soil blocker is a handheld tool that comes in a variety of sizes. It is pushed into the wet mix, pressure is applied to pack it tight, then it is placed on a tray to eject the pressed blocks using a spring-loaded release. A popular size is the 1.5” blocker that makes 4 blocks at a time. Press the blocks onto a waterproof tray at least ½ inch thick with a rim. This way, if you want to water the blocks by “flooding” the water will not flow out from the bottom. The blocks may be seeded immediately.