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Soil Block Makers

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Soil Block Makers

Post  Kelejan on Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:44 pm

Has anyone experience of using Seed Block makers? I have made a cursery search but did not come up with anything, although I am sure they have been discussed here somewhere.
Johnnie's Seeds have them for sale and their explanation seems very sensible as to why one should use them.


Last edited by camprn on Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:05 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Corrected title)
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  keepercjr on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:22 pm

I use them and I really like them!  I didn't even make my own mix but I bought some from pottingblocks.com (they also sell the soil block makers).  That website has a great tutorial as well.  This is my second year using them and I couldn't be happier.  For plants you plan to keep indoors longer before planting (like tomatoes) you will need to pot up eventually and I use a solo cup for that with mels mix.  Some people use the bottom half of 2 liter bottles.
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  mapspringer on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:38 pm

I agree completely with keepercjr.  It's my second year using the Johnnys 4-block maker and I absolutely love it!  I have 2 trays of starts going under my desk at work right now.  When they're ready to up pot (to cheapie solo cups, or other re-purposed container) they'll just get dropped-in and layered with some additional compost and back under the lights until hardening off time.  They really took off last year using this method!

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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  camprn on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:54 pm


____________________________

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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  FamilyGardening on Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:00 pm

a quick search brought up this page with lots of threads on soil blocks Smile

https://www.google.com/search?q=soil+blocks&sitesearch=http%3A%2F%2Fsquarefoot.creatingforum.com%2F%2F

soil blocks are something Im interested in too Smile

happy gardening
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  quiltbea on Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:05 pm

I have the 3/4" mini and the 2" midi (in mapspringer's photo above) and love that there is no root disturbance when potting up.  They are great.   And no plastic pots to toss out into the landfills.  You use the wwwwhole thing!!
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  Kelejan on Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:54 pm

Thank you, keepercjr, mapspringer, camprn, FamilyGardening and quiltbea. I told you it was only a cursery searching, but I am getting canny in my slightly older age and letting others to the work for me, but thank all you so much.

I now have lots of of links to read and the assurance that people are happy with the soil block makers. I had better get moving and get a couple to start with.

Just a small question: what size or combination of sizes do you find most useful?
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  mapspringer on Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:55 pm

Kelejan,
Personally, I don't see the use in starting in the teeny tiny blocks, then adding to the 2" blocks.  It may be the skeptic in me thinking that Johnny's wants folks to buy more equipment, but then again others may have a good reason for doing it that way.  I know from experience that using only the 2" blocks works for me... and BTW, the quality of their block maker is fan-tastic!  Maiden England   , and feels like it will last a lifetime, with proper cleaning, of course Very Happy.
I can't see doing it any other way, frankly.

Mapspringer
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  yolos on Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:17 pm

One reason to use the mini blocks is because they take up less space.  When germinating seeds on a heat mat, you can get a whole lot more seeds germinating using the mini blocks.  Then after they germinate, move them off the heat mat, place in the 2" blocks and move under the lights.
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  quiltbea on Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:29 pm

As you can see, its a matter of personal taste.
yolos hit the nail on the head.  Space.

I like starting seeds in the 3/4" minis.  If the seed doesn't germinate, I haven't wasted space or soil in the starting.  Another reason is I keep my apt at a low temp of 59F nites and 61-62F days.   I can put many of the minis on the heating pad covered so they can get enuf heat to germinate.
Once they've germinated, they can go into the furnace room under lights where they enjoy temps in the 62F range.  To germinate, they need it a lot warmer.  For growing, they do fine at 62-64 degrees.
I drop them into the 2" block within a day or two after I move them to the furnace room.  If they are a bit leggy, I can drop them deeper into the 2" blocks.  When they have a few true leaves I pot up to 16 oz Solo cups for many things, like cole crops, lettuce,  but my peppers and tomatoes I pot up into 2- and 3-liter air-pruner soda bottles until they can get transplanted outdoors.  Air pruners prevent girdling and make it easy to transplant with no root shock.

Here are some recently potted up to air pruner bottle pots.  I bottom water all my indoor crops.

I also cut the bottoms of Solo cups so they are air pruners, too.

Its easy to do and makes it so easy to transplant. The idea is that roots won't grow across the air space so they won't circle (girdle) in the pot.
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  camprn on Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:49 pm

I don't use them but I can see their benefit if you are going into major seedling productuon.

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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  mapspringer on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:04 pm

I see the point made by yolo and quiltbea.  I got an incredible clearance deal on some of the "seed starting packs" with the 72 cell tray, bottom tray and plastic cover.  I recycled the cell trays and have used the ribbed bottom trays to put my blocks in (as seen in pic, above.)  Filling up 2 of those trays with 2" blocks has been plenty of starts for me, but if you are not constrained by space like this, I can see where you'd want the tiny blocks (and so they all fit on a single heat mat, I presume?)
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  FamilyGardening on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:09 pm

quiltbea do you cut off all of the bottom of the solo cups? or just make slits?

if you cut off all of the bottom of the cup, how does the cup stand up?

I want to use something like this for cucumbers, they seem to be the only veggie that we have problems with when transplanting and when we direct sow into the ground they always get eaten by something.....

I love the idea of buying one of the soil blocks....but I have spent to much money this year and have to figure out another way to make it work  Very Happy next year for sure if I start with one of those first and then move onto other garden goodies!

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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  Turan on Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:41 pm

I made a round soil block maker with a tomato paste can. It was good for doing a few blocks. I got my 4 cube block maker second hand a bit later.

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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  Kelejan on Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:35 am

Nobody yet has pointed out that I made the mistake of calling this thread Seed Block Makers instead of Soil Block Makers. No wonder I could not find anything when I searched.  Embarassed

PS Sanderson I sent you a PM
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Re: Soil Block Makers

Post  quiltbea on Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:44 am

Kelejan, funny how the brain works.  Once I read 'block' my mouth was up and running with info.  I guess that soil block and seed block are interchangable for me. Very Happy

Family....I don't cut off the bottoms of the cups.  I punch 4 holes in the very bottom and then cut a slit up from that hole, about 2 inches.  The weight of the soil will separate the cup enuf for air penetration.
With the plastic soda bottles I cut a narrow slit (about 1/8") since they are less apt to separate themselves from soil weight.

Is this picture clearer?

I've heard of those that make soil blockers out of square plastic containers by punching out a hole in the bottoms and using a bolt and washer or something to form the hole for the seeds base but also for pushing the block out of the container intact.  I never tried that myself.
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