User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Corn and sunflowers pre-germinated in kitchen seed sprouters and then sown in 2" mini blocks are up. They are pale-looking because I was busy last couple of days with the Tomato Spiral and didn't check on the web flats covered with empty potting mix bags in the garage.

Image

The tall corn are in 4"x6" deep pots and were under the lights already.
Image

Image

We had about 1" of rain today, just what we needed since the ground was starting to dry out. I plan on planting the sprouted corn and sunflowers tomorrow if it doesnt rain again, or day after tomorrow.

Peanuts were also pre-germinated (in a DIY sprouter made from McDonalds sundae cups :wink: ) and planted in 2" mini blocks. They have been inside with the peppers and eggplant seedlings.
Image
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Planted one tray of corn seedling miniblocks plus another 16 miniblocks and two 4"x6" high pots.

The corn seedlings grown in 6" deep loose potting soil had 6" or longer roots. They were harder to plant than the 2" mini blocks with no more than 2" stray roots sticking out. If I had planted both trays it would have been 72 miniblocks. As it was, I think I still planted something like 70 seedlings at exact distance apart I wanted. If any of these fail for some reason, I have a whole another tray, plus 8 more miniblocks and two more 6" pots.... :roll:

Image

I planted the corn seed blocks like this.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

I also planted the true potato seed (TPS) seedlings. They were way overcrowded in their 4" round pots (3/4" microblocks >> 2" miniblocks >> 4" pots) and needing to be watered every day. Plus they were getting root bound so much that the roots had stopped up the drainage holes. :roll:

These two have burgundy red stems and veins:
Image

These have some color to the stems but not as much:
Image

And these appear to be just green:
Image

The seed potatoes that were planted in the ground are just barely starting to emerge.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Almost all 36 sunflower seedlings are up and ready to be planted....

Image

...this has been my biggest "problem" with the soilblocker method -- I'm ending up with way too many plants and I really don't think I have room for all these sunflowers.... :| these are Mammoth Russian and came from my saved sunflower head I grew in... was it 2010?

...yep. 2010 :arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 81#p156181
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Another view of TPS plants. Red tomato cages on their sides are for holding up the floating row cover at night:
Image

I protect the trays of biggest tomato seedlings in here during the cold nights (low 40's and below):
Image
Image
The 3 mil sheeting on the gate is used to double-cover when temps are forecast to fall in the 30's.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Update photos of some of the seedlings that are still inside --

peanuts:
Image

Tray of Celery and alyssums, summer savory on the left;Tray of Basils, toothache plants, Mexican Mint Marigolds, Malabar spinach, densely planted and still waiting to be uppotted peppers and eggplants on the right (they sometimes go outside during the day):

Image

Main pepper tray which is having a lot of problems and is looking very delayed compared to the healthy densely planted peppers above :roll: Planning to uppot them once the tomatoes and the rest of the corn are planted out. Overall, peppers don't seem to like growing in soilblocks like tomatoes, though some of them are doing better than others.
Image
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Onions update:
Image
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

6sparkpug6
Cool Member
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:30 pm
Location: Zone 6b

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Hi! applestar: I am still kind of confused about the upblocking... would you mind explaining it?

I would also love to hear how this garden is doing! I have been reading about your indoor tomato experiment and am fascinated!

I am also curious about, did you mention, peanuts? :eek:

And also, about the corn... how many plants did you grow? I got some corn seeds (a potted variety) for Christmas, but they got lost somewhere... I guess they will just have to be part of next year's plants... :roll:


Thanks so much apple!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Hmm... I guess I missed this last post in the thread. Sorry about not answering. :(
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

This year, I'm combining the soilblock method with the pre-sprouting in seed zip bag method :()

Subject: Starting pepper seeds >> spoon in zip bag germination
applestar wrote:Tomato seeds love this. They demonstrated one objection I have wirh this kind of pre-germination method. I was busy yesterday and today -- this evening, came home to a mess of sprouted, cotyledons fully extended... MUST BE POTTED seedlings :roll:
Image

This meant starting my first tray of 2" mini soil blocks :()

...I also already have three 8 miniblocks @ 2 1/2 gal rice milk containers of peppers and eggplants, another 4 and 6 miniblocks of tomatoes, plus one more block... 30 tomatoes in miniblocks and 17 peppers and eggplants.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

I'm reviewing my notes and trying to decide what the best way to use the microblocks would be.

- off hand -

* I had trouble with peppers because it's too hard to maintain ideal conditions for the tiny blocks for a lengthy period. Easy to dry out, but invites mold and damping off fungus if kept in enclosed containers. Quick to dry out COMPLETELY.

* tomatoes need to be upblocked almost immediately because they grow very long taproots. Then the microblocks designed to fit exactly in the cubic hole made by the mini locker adapter prevented deep planting which really helps to grow strong tomatoes with extra roots that readily grow up the stem.

* microblocks uppot perfectly into recycled K-cups. But plants that outgrow K-cups need to be uppotted again before planting out. CELERY grew really well in this sequence, though this year, ai opted to grow the seedlings in community K-cup and pudding cup, then separate and uppot to K-cups.

:idea: I might try growing lettuce in microblocks, then K cups. I think lettuce would meet the criteria I'm thinking of for microblocks:
> tiny, surface sown seeds
> that germinates readily without too much fuss
> small root system that will grow to transplant size in K-cups
> and/or can be planted out early in cool weather before they outgrow the K-cups.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

Tomato soilblocks needed to be separated from the tightly packed 4x5=20 half lasagna pan and 5x10=50 2" miniblocks per web tray:
image.jpg
I planted cauliflower seedlings that were started in a community container in 2" miniblocks. To make the process easier, I washed most of the soilmix from the roots by dunking. I had 19 seedlings. :-()
image.jpg
Later, I planted a Purple Peacock broccoli seedling in the spare block.

...as you can see,
I'm starting to use the "EGGCRATE" light diffuser underneath the soilblocks and web flats to ensure proper air pruning. You can cut 5 pieces plus some useful scraps from each standard panel (which I used under the cauliflower and under the paper pots mentioned in "Recycled Containers" thread. I used tin snips.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

I couldn't find my microblock picker upper -- a pair of tongs that came with my set of soil blockers... And you REALLY, REALLY need the tool to handle them. :?

:-() ...so I made my own... :-()
image.jpg
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

I decided to try something new to upblock the 2" miniblocks this year.

Last year, I wanted to try stacking the 2" miniblock on top of another one, but I was confounded by the fact that simply stacking the growing block on top of a freshly made block was unstable. I ended up making half filled half-height blocks for them to sit on to give them just a little bit more soil than the cube that the blocker makes.

....but for this year's upblocking, it came to me as I was falling asleep! You should have seen me this morning I was so eager to test it out! Image

First I needed a right kind of container -- my MIL buys cut up watermelon for the kids whenever we visit -- all year round. I had asked her to save me the containers. It turned out that the Larger of these containers holds exactly 9 miniblocks with a little space in between -- PERFECT ! Image

...as you can see, I arranged the blocks in the container upside down <<that was my EUREKA Image>>
image.jpg
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: I started some too :) -- experimenting with soil blocks

I sowed lettuce, escarole, arugula, and some herbs like rhyme and chamomile in microblocks.
image.jpg
image.jpg
Key to using microblocks is to upblock as soon as seedleaves unfurl:
image.jpg
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.



Return to “Seed Starting Forum”