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soil blocks

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soil blocks

Post  WolfHeart on 3/21/2012, 11:49 pm

I have seen that quite a few of you here use soil blocks. I have done some research on this and it looks like something I would like to try.

I guess my question(s) are:

1) do I need to get one of those fancy block makers?

2) are there alternatives to these fancy block makers?

Quilt be was kind enough to give me some info on the 3/4" block fitting into the 2" block

3) is this a standard feature or do I need to get a certain set?

4) What kind of soil do you use to make your blocks, MM, store bought, or something else?

5) do you take care of these blocks differently then you would say a yogurt container full of dirt?

sorry I hope these don't affraid scare affraid you off. I am really interested in this and want to see if I should start this year or build up to for next.

Thanks for any info.

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Re: soil blocks

Post  littlejo on 3/22/2012, 12:53 am

I guess it depends on what you do now, and whether it works for you or not. I was having a hard time doing the transplanting into bigger pots. I woud germinate lots of seeds in a tray in vermicuite, then try to separate the seedings to put in their own bigger pot. I lost quite a few by shocking them to death!

I just got mine, but they are very easy to use. thanks goes to quiltbe for the info. She sent me a receipe for the dirt, but, I used mm with some added peat for stabiity and I added the fertilizer as receipe said, I can give you receipe, but don't know how to switch to another thread to find it.

The little ones are perfect for putting 1 seed in each, then I can transplant into the larger block, with no shock.

I checked the internet and there are a couple of plans for make your own, but woud only make 1 at a time.

They are pretty pricey but you only have to buy them once.

Johnnys select seed is the only place I found both types, and I figured I'd better buy together so 1 pot would fit into the other.

I haven't grown anything in them yet, but, I've made the pots and planted just since Monday. Got to be better than what I was doing!

Jo

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Re: soil blocks

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/22/2012, 9:38 am

@WolfHeart wrote:I have seen that quite a few of you here use soil blocks. I have done some research on this and it looks like something I would like to try.

I guess my question(s) are:

1) do I need to get one of those fancy block makers?

2) are there alternatives to these fancy block makers?


There are home built alternatives but my personal opinion is that the blockers sold from Johnny's are very easy to use, durable and put up with abuse. I accidently left mine muddy last spring, rinsed it off and it was ready to go....did not make that mistake this year, but I like knowing that I can.

Quilt be was kind enough to give me some info on the 3/4" block fitting into the 2" block

3) is this a standard feature or do I need to get a certain set?


Both the 3/4" divot or dimple and a deeper dimple attach to the block maker. I bought my attachments separately. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8091-insert-set.aspx

4) What kind of soil do you use to make your blocks, MM, store bought, or something else?


I use the recipe that comes with the blocker....except for the garden soil part, I do not have any garden soil. For that I try to gather some of the soil that lives under my compost pile and mix it in with either potting soil or MM. You can buy soil blocker mix. Johnny’s has bags for sale. But it is easy to make if you are already mixing MM. Usually I use the same tarp that I make my MM on. My soil block maker is stored in a tote on the back porch where it stays in great condition until I am ready to use it. In the heat of early summer I put 4 parts mix to 3 parts water (I measure both with a quart size yoghurt container into a dish tub). In early spring it seems to take less water. It is like making bread. The weather seems to affect how much water it takes to get it right......right = the consistency of old fashioned peanut butter. No getting around it, you have to get your hands (or at least your rubber gloves) dirty. A knead-squish motion is needed to mix the mix.

I push enough of the wet mix to one side of the dish pan to make a heap that is about one and a half times deeper than the blocker is deep. I hold the blocker by the handle, not touching the plunger, and press it into the heap of mix. When I hit the bottom of the dish pan I jiggle it back and forth against the bottom of the pan and lift at a slight angle (sometimes suction leaves a perfect block on the bottom of the pan) If needed, I can press more mix into the bottom of the block-maker with my hand. I use a small shovel-trowel to remove excess mix that might be sticking out of the bottom (it happens if I have to press more mix in by hand)

Set the full block maker into the tray where you want your blocks, press the plunger and repeat the process. I think I make it sound harder than it is. You get a rhythm going and the job goes fast once you get going. (I plan to make a video next time I have a big seed starting day BUT there are already lots of videos on YouTube.)

Drop a seed into the divot, sprinkle vermiculite into the divot, add time and maybe a little bit of heat and you have plantlets that are transplant ready.

5) do you take care of these blocks differently then you would say a yogurt container full of dirt?


They take a few days to dry out. When they need water use a mister or spray bottle that will mist. You can bottom water if you have waited too long to mist. I REALLY like that I do not need to keep a collection of yogurt cups.


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Re: soil blocks

Post  Turan on 4/14/2012, 2:21 am

I was talking to a friend of mine that has a market farm today. I was fussing about seedlings and asking her about soil blocks. I had looked at Quiltbee's videos and read these threads for ideas and was thinking to make myself a press with a tomato paste can etc. She gave me her 4 block press because she uses a 20 block press now that she has finished trialing the system.

She also told me to toss the seedlings that look like the pots might have damping off, there is still time in our spring. So I went home with a soil blocker and just played with it. Planted Peppers, eggplant and Thai basil..... so far. What a Face

It is supposed to snow tomorrow..................

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Re: soil blocks

Post  floyd1440 on 4/14/2012, 6:42 am

@littlejo wrote:I guess it depends on what you do now, and whether it works for you or not. I was having a hard time doing the transplanting into bigger pots. I woud germinate lots of seeds in a tray in vermicuite, then try to separate the seedings to put in their own bigger pot. I lost quite a few by shocking them to death!



Johnnys select seed is the only place I found both types, and I figured I'd better buy together so 1 pot would fit into the other.

I haven't grown anything in them yet, but, I've made the pots and planted just since Monday. Got to be better than what I was doing!

Jo

I just got mine, but they are very easy to use. thanks goes to quiltbe for the info. She sent me a receipe for the dirt, but, I used mm with some added peat for stabiity and I added the fertilizer as receipe said, I can give you receipe, but don't know how to switch to another thread to find it.

The little ones are perfect for putting 1 seed in each, then I can transplant into the larger block, with no shock.

I checked the internet and there are a couple of plans for make your own, but woud only make 1 at a time.

They are pretty pricey but you only have to buy them once.



What draws me to these blocks are two thinks, even though I don't own one yet, is that you can make a batch of 3/4" blocks and plant one seed per block. I got a seed starting kit and planted to many seeds in some tray cells and they all germinated and had to cut the smallest off.

And the second reason is once they germinate in the 3/4" blocks you just put them in the 2"blocks without any shock. If the seeds don't sprout in the small block I guess I could put the dirt back in the tray to build new ones.

However what soil do people that use the block makers prefer? Johnny's 5-12 mix or any potting soil?

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Re: soil blocks

Post  quiltbea on 4/14/2012, 12:49 pm

Eliot Coleman, who has been a proponent of this method for years and even used it on his TV show "Gardening Naturally" some years ago, developed the soil formula:

3 Qts Peat Moss, 2 Tablespoons each of Greensand, Phosphate Rock and Blood Meal. Mix together thoroughly.

Add: 1 Qt Perlite and 3 Qts Aged-Compost. Mix together well.

Dump some into a waterproof container like a kitty pan or dishpan, add water and stir til its sort of like wet oatmeal. Press down soil blocker into the soil mix to fill.

There's a sticky on the board somewhere with the 2 films I made of the procedure. It might help someone to understand how to do this. I'd check it out in the seach box above if you are more interested.

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Re: soil blocks

Post  quiltbea on 4/14/2012, 12:53 pm

You can find both videos I made here:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t11383-part-ii-up-potting-soil-blocks

The 2nd one is in the first post and the first one is a few posts down. Shows how it works.

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Re: soil blocks

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