While I do most of the work in the flowerbeds, Farmer John does most of the food-type gardening. His favorite method for starting seeds is mixing his own soil & creating soil blocks.
The genius idea behind soil blocks is that you start seedlings without needing hundreds of tiny pots. The consistency of the soil is such that it holds together on its own.
MAKING THE SOIL BLOCKS
Farmer John mixes the soil in a wheelbarrow, adds water and gets busy creating trays of soil blocks. He typically uses the recipe from Elliot Coleman’s New Organic Gardener book, or some slight variation.
3 buckets – peat moss
1 bucket – rich compost
2 buckets – garden dirt
1 bucket – perlite
1 bucket – sand
1/2 cup – wood ash
1/2 cup – osmocote smart release plant food
This method for planting seeds works very well if you keep a couple things in mind:
1. The soil blocker has 2 interchangeable dimples to accommodate small and large seeds. Pick the size you need to make the seed planting step that much easier.
2. Keep the soil in the wheelbarrow at a consistency of wet concrete. This allows the soil to come out of the soil blocker easily.
3. Lastly, to ensure the soil comes out easily, dip the soil blocker in water between each use to keep it wet and clean. This helps tremendously.
USING THE SOIL BLOCKS
The reason soil blocks work is because the air gap around the blocks prevent the roots from emerging. So, be sure to keep the gap. When the blocks are transplanted to a large container or garden bed the roots will grow into the surrounding dirt.
We place our blocks on aluminum trays. As opposed to watering from the top and possibly damaging the tiny seedlings. We flood the bottom of the tray and the soil blocks suck up the water. With all that dirt exposed to air, the soil blocks dry out quickly. So, we have to water them daily.
Have you tried soil blockers?
What is your favorite thing to start in them?