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Soil blocks – not peat pots

Call me slow, but I just discovered this technique this year. I think it’s awesome. No purchasing individual pots. Once you have the soil block maker(s) and trays, there’s no need for further investment to start seeds.

I like Eliot Coleman’s explanations with their soil block recipe and soil block makers (including cheap homemade). For us, I won’t be adding blood meal or rock phosphate since we make vermicompost at home, adding rock dust, pumice and egg-shell for the worms. I’ll be adding enough vermicompost to compost ratios. Instead of peat moss, I may get coconut coir.

Here is the soil mix recipe:

Here is the piece on soil blocks, including making your own:

A piece on soil blocks in cold frames:

Germinating pepper plants in soil blocks:

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8 comments

  1. Very interesting. I have yet to try this method, so I will keep up with your future posts to get updates.

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    • Wow, with your expertise, I’m really glad I could offer information we both are new to learning. Thanks for commenting. =)

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  2. You are not slow! They have not been used in the USA much, but are catching on now.I used them the past few seasons and they work great:-) It is so nice not to have piles of peat pots,plastic pots, and they don’t tear like paper pots.This guy sells them on his site, and he is very detailed + quick with service, but you are right you don’t need to buy into the whole system. I only purchased two block makers, and that is all I have ever needed. Really fun when you get the hang of making them, but I must admit I was not too good at first…but after some practice I got it:-)
    Here is his site:
    http://www.pottingblocks.com/soil_block_gardening/

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    • Well that’s good to know I’m not slow. haha Thanks for the link to the site. Johnny’s Seeds also has them, on sale, for about the same price right now. I haven’t run it by my husband yet if we’ll get them, but I think we should. I think the soil recipe must matter somewhat? What did you discover you were doing wrong at first & made it work better?

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      • These people have it down to a science, and their soil does work better in the blocks. They have boards they place them on etc.It truly is well done + well thought out, and it is Eric Coleman + he is a mentor in organic gardening:-)
        I only purchased the smaller one + 2 inch to work for my system they are expensive, but well made. I found the system really makes gardening much easier. The messy part is getting the right soil consistency to make the squares. LOL..that was a learning curve. I made a bunch of messy squares. You do have to practice to form squares. Once you get the right “moisture” consistency with the soil they work like a breeze.
        Just like a recipe in cooking your first batch sometimes does not look like the picture in the cookbook:-)
        They put in various ingredients for the seed after it forms it first true leaves, so you don’t have to add extra fertilizer. I have read a seed has everything it needs until it forms first true leaves(truly magical)
        I only use organic fish + seaweed emulsion on my seedlings. I grow a lot of plants for others and it would cost me too much to use their soil mix, but it is very good + works very well. I found their soil worked better than my own that I was trying to make, but I still have time to tweak it!
        Jason Beam has some tutorials for his business and he is very efficient in delivery etc. I did get some of his growing squares ( green ones very effiecient) to avoid using those annoying plastic carriers that always wear out,so I would recommend him for supplies. He is very knowledgeable + I liked his soil mix+ products.

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        • I went ahead and ordered the seed block kit (includes the small, medium block makers plus tools) from that website you sent me (Jason). It looked like a great deal, cheaper than if I’d ordered all the individual items through Johnny’s. I do worry about the soil for seed starter. They have various recipes at their website. In the end, they said that it’s a bit wasteful but pure vermicompost could replace all those things. We’ve been making our own all winter, so I may have the solution. I try to get away from all those different amendments to some degree. I know they say all kinds of things are needed – rock dust, pumice, kelp, fish emulsion, lime, blood meal, etc. And I think, how on earth did forests & wild edibles grow without all those things for thousands of years? Oh well. I know it makes a difference, I’ve seen it in my own garden. But grrrr.
          I like that you say a seed has all it needs until first leaves. I’ve been sprouting sunflower seeds in the shell, and notice the shells break down rather quickly, day by day. While I was cleaning the seeds (as I do daily), I was thinking of how when humans are pregnant, the baby gets all it needs until it emerges into the world. I guess nature is pretty smart, making sure that seeds germinate. Just adds to the fascination of gardening.

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          • You are so wise:-) Good analogy! I agree with you about how everything grows in the wild without all this stuff. He ( jason) really seems to have a nice little business and I don’ t mind supporting a person trying to do something good. He does have good prices.
            I am so eager to hear how your “pure vermicompost” works. I know you will do a great post on that:-)
            I don’t have “pure vermicompost” , but I always wondered about that too.
            I think you are right about “observing” our own gardens, we can tell what works + not just from our own space. I’ve noticed things that people tell me + then I spend some time outside in the dirt + nature and find out..hmmm…maybe that is not so-lol
            Happy sowing!

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            • Awww, I don’t know about wise, just been around a long time. haha One of my next articles, among a couple others already in the works, is on vermicompost and our journey in making it. Once the initial pumice & rock dust ran out (it came with the whole kit, I didn’t rough it from scratch with Rubbermaid bins. Got the 360.), I’ve only been adding egg shells and kitchen scraps, and then compostable paper. It really does create quite a gorgeous soil. Our worms are our pets! haha

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