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jbest123
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Soil Blocks

I decided to try soil blocks for starting garden plants. Before I invested $$ in a soil block maker, I did a Google search on DIY soil blocks. I get my prescriptions mail order in 90-day quantities and use the containers for seed storage. I had two containers where one was slightly smaller in diameter than the other.
Image
p2050005 by tsebmj, on Flickr

I used the bottom of the smaller container for the plunger. My containers were also taller than Toppers and I decided to take advantage of the increased length. I added a nylon nut to adjust the height of the blocks. I have read that you do not want to distort the taproot of carrots and parsnips. The additional length of the block will give me additional time to plant those plants in the garden.
Image
p2050006 by tsebmj, on Flickr

The little brass acorn nut is for making the divot for the seed/s.
Image
p20500091 by tsebmj, on Flickr

The divot is not evident, but it is there.
Image
p20500101 by tsebmj, on Flickr

DoubleDogFarm
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Re: Soil Blocks

Very nice john.

May I recommend a wing-nut in place of the nylon nut. Quick adjustment. No tools.

Eric

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applestar
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Re: Soil Blocks

Very cool. I was not so good at making my own so I'm using pre-fab tools, but I really like the way the seedlings grow.

The greater availability of air for the roots and air-pruning the rootball seem to make a lot of difference and particularly agrees with tomatoes. I was not as successful (they were very slow to grow) with peppers when I tried last spring, but that particular tray got infested with fungus gnats. They might also have done better if I had been able to give them more heat/time on the heat mat.

Have you observed any difference among different kinds of seeds when grown in soil blocks?
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jbest123
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Re: Soil Blocks

DoubleDogFarm wrote:Very nice john.

May I recommend a wing-nut in place of the nylon nut. Quick adjustment. No tools.

Eric
You just take the cap off and the nylon nut spins freely.

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jbest123
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Re: Soil Blocks

applestar wrote: Have you observed any difference among different kinds of seeds when grown in soil blocks?
I also use humidity domes and the seeds sprout in about half of the published time on the package. The eggplant is still the last one to sprout.

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gixxerific
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Re: Soil Blocks

Nice! I have seen these all over and remember Applestar liking hers last spring.

One question, how do you water them without them falling apart?

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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Soil Blocks

That looks great!

I too am wondering how you water it. And how does it stay together? I would guess that as soon as you picked it up or poured water on it it would fall apart.

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applestar
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Re: Soil Blocks

I received a "kit" that makes two sizes of square blocks and it came with two sets of tongs of exactly the same width as the blocks. After watching some instructional videos, I also bought paint scrapers and a rectangular mason's trowel tool -- essentially spatulas -- of the same widths as the blocks and they also help to pick them up. It's a lot easier than bare hands. (I initially "borrowed" my daughters' toy spatula from the play kitchen set :D )

But well formed blocks are packed tight and hold their shape pretty well.

I find that initially, putting the blocks in solid bottom trays and bottom watering is the best, then once their roots fill the blocks, I put them in web trays to root prune and put in solid trays and tubs to water. Once they are solidly full of roots, they can go outside in the rain and not fall apart.
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Soil Blocks

That makes sense. Where did you get yours? Every place I have found they seem kinda expensive. I might try them.

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jbest123
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Re: Soil Blocks

gixxerific wrote:Nice! I have seen these all over and remember Applestar liking hers last spring.

One question, how do you water them without them falling apart?
See this post. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 48&t=55765

Susan W
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Re: Soil Blocks

OK, I admit my ignorance.....What and why are you using soil blocks?

I just started more seeds today, 12 month on going for what I am doing. These are in coir or peat pellets (I prefer the coir). Coneflower, native yellow (went in frig), garlic chives, salad burnet and wormwood (that one is iffy).
Have fun!
Susan

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jbest123
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Re: Soil Blocks

Image
p3230101 by tsebmj, on Flickr

DoubleDogFarm
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Re: Soil Blocks

Nice photo.

Not positive, but it looks like you sprinkled some fertilizer around the stems. Lighter colored something around the stems.

I also see what looks like two have succumb to Damping off and two or three not breaking from the seed coat. The cotyledon being stuck maybe do to planting to shallow or drying out.

John what are your thoughts experiences.

Eric

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applestar
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Re: Soil Blocks

Here's the link to a thread from Feb when I was documenting seed starting with my then new soil block makers: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=50775

...hmmm I think I'll review the process too. I did start the earliest seeds in January last time, and that's actuary "just around the corner" :o
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jbest123
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Re: Soil Blocks

DoubleDogFarm wrote:Nice photo.

Not positive, but it looks like you sprinkled some fertilizer around the stems. Lighter colored something around the stems.

I also see what looks like two have succumb to Damping off and two or three not breaking from the seed coat. The cotyledon being stuck maybe do to planting to shallow or drying out.

John what are your thoughts experiences.

Eric
There was 100% success with that tray. The light colored material is fine grind vermiculite which I used to cover the seeds. I only used 1/4" to cover the seeds and that caused the problem. The root pushed the cotyledon through the surface too quickly and the two that look like Damp off just fell over. The root took hold and the seedling stood up, also the leaves broke loose of the cotyledon and went on there way. I have since used compost to fill the divot and compress it slightly.

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p3250115 by tsebmj, on Flickr

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p30300561 by tsebmj, on Flickr

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