Ross Mountain Farm
Ross Mountain Farm

Soil Blocking

Sep 08, 2014

 

Starting seeds using soil blockers is easy and enjoyable. All you need is the soil blocker, the right ingredients, water and seed. A firm work surface to work on is essential too. Basically you make a block out of soil using a form and plant a single seed into each block. No pots!

Steve made us a table for soil blocking that is just the right height for us to work on with a removable front lip for easy clean up.

With this method there are no plant pots to fuss with, and, since the whole block and seedling go directly into the garden, transplant stress is significantly reduced.

  • So, first make your blocking mix.

I started with Eliot Coleman’s recipe (The New Organic Grower - Eliot Coleman) and tweaked it just a bit. A quick internet search for soil blocking will provide ample references to his books and recipes. The blockers themselves, which come in different sizes, can be purchased through West Coast Seeds and Lee Valley Tools here on the island.

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It’s very important the correct proportions are used and thoroughly blended to give a nice homogenous mix. This will ensure the forms hold together and your seedlings will thrive.

I use a wheelbarrow to mix the dry ingredients in and what I don’t need right away gets stored in a very large Rubbermaid tote with a lid for next time.

  • Add plenty of water.

Take a bit of time with this step, mixing well with each addition of water, and stop before it gets to the point of saturation. If it’s too wet, the mix won’t hold together.

  • Grab your blocker and press it firmly into the mix.blocker_is_full.JPG

Wiggle it around until the block chambers are full – have a look.

  • Place the blocker over your tray and release.

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  • Deposit a seed in the tiny depression in the block and cover lightly.

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Keep moist while they germinate and watch carefully. When you see your little seedling roots at the edges of the blocks, they are ready to pop into larger blocks or go directly into the garden.

Any leftover blocking mix back simply gets scraped off the table and into the tote, ready for next time.

We really had fun seeding our spring veggies this way and we've just started more kale and spinach.

September 30th...three weeks later the little fellers are ready to plant out....kale_and_spinach_blocks.JPG

 

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