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Soil Blocks

Posted by jbest123 Zone 5 PA (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 4, 09 at 18:37

If anybody is interested in soil blocks, for starting seeds, I have a new entry in my journal about making them.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Soil Blocks

Oh, crapola. Now I have to go rummage through Mr. H's medicine bottles and his messy tool shed. Gotta have one of these ;-)

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Soil Blocks

Um...did you just say crapola? What is it with you and John always talking about you know....the "stuff"? Hee Hee

EG


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RE: Soil Blocks

EG said: "What is it with you and John always talking about you know....the "stuff"? Hee Hee "

I believe I've heard quite a bit of HM coming from you, Mr. EG!

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Soil Blocks

That's HS, Granny, and don't you forget it!
:)


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RE: Soil Blocks

Ribbit - Thanks for reminding granny about that! Crap.......heh.

EG


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RE: Soil Blocks

Do you think they will work with carrots and the like?

I also have some info on how to make one out of wood, and the proper "mix" to have them hold together.

I was thinking about making larger blocks for tomatoes and other large plants, and maybe even the corn! Just not sure how they would do for transplants.


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RE: Soil Blocks

If someone does this with carrots, can you pass on the results?

Thank you in advance,

Dan


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RE: Soil Blocks

Do you think they will work with carrots and the like?

They are supposed to work with carrots and parsnips and the like. As long as you do not let the taproot bend. If it does all the mature roots will be bent

I also have some info on how to make one out of wood, and the proper "mix" to have them hold together.

I thought the square ones would be better against evaporation but the "air gap between blocks would defeat that I have the recipe for the mix.

I was thinking about making larger blocks for tomatoes and other large plants, and maybe even the corn! Just not sure how they would do for transplants.

Most of my blocks will go directly into the garden but the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant will be transplanted into 4" pots first. Once the outside surface dries slightly, with the dried blood in the mix, I think they will be east to transplant.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Granny, if you can find all the parts, it only takes 20 30 min to put it together. Its hard to get somebody 70 yrs old excited but I can hardly wait 3 4 weeks to get started. If it works out the way people say, I may give up the seed tapes.

Dan, I am going to give it a try for carrots and parsnips. I will probably post the results in my journal though.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

I think I may make one of the 4" block makers for doing larger things like corn and tomatoes. I'll have to get some felt from the fabric store to act as a capillary mat.


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RE: Soil Blocks

John said "Its hard to get somebody 70 yrs old excited"

Speak for yourself, John ;-)

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Soil Blocks

Whoa!!!.Hummmm... I gota think about that one a minute.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Is this significantly better than newspaper pots? Does the soil need to be sterlized, or are you using fresh potting soil?


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RE: Soil Blocks

Posted by eaglesgarden 6 (My Page) on Thu, Feb 5, 09 at 16:18

Is this significantly better than newspaper pots? Does the soil need to be sterlized, or are you using fresh potting soil?

The claim is that since there are no "walls" to speak of, that once the roots reach the edge, they turn back towards the middle, making a condensed root area underneath the plant. This supposedly creates a plant that requires very little hardening off and almost zero transplant shock.

As far as soil goes, I don't think you want sterilized soil, because it kind of defeats the purpose of putting the plants in the something that is very similar to their future home.


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RE: Soil Blocks

I've used peat pellets in the past, and the original tap roots came right out the side or the bottom, and kept going.

Is there a difference to the root whether it reaches the end of peat versus soil?

I'm a little skeptical of the claims.


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RE: Soil Blocks

I think jleiwig was speaking about the feeder roots not the taproot.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Posted by eaglesgarden 6 (My Page) on Fri, Feb 6, 09 at 13:21

I've used peat pellets in the past, and the original tap roots came right out the side or the bottom, and kept going.
Is there a difference to the root whether it reaches the end of peat versus soil?

I'm a little skeptical of the claims.

John's got it right. I should have clarified that the tap root will have no problem, but the finer feeder roots will not be able to go through a peat pot very well unless the pot has been overwatered constantly to the point of being mush.

The theory is that the feeder roots will be much more dense throughout the soil block instead of just continually circling around the edge of a pot looking for food and water.


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RE: Soil Blocks

So what about the soil to be used? Is it regular soil, is it sanitized, or is it potting soil?


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RE: Soil Blocks

Hey John, can you hum a few more bars? I'd love to make one of these myself, but alas, I'm useless when it comes to figuring out this kind of stuff. This could be a great way to save money on a soil block maker til the economy turns around and I can justify spending $40 on a 4x block maker.

Thanks for this great concept!


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RE: Soil Blocks

I've used the soil block maker twice, with the recommended soil mix. And twice, I lost all of the plants. They dry out very quickly, and I guess they are just not for me.... Even with the capillary mat, I managed to kill them...
The mix was from Eliot Coleman's book The New Organic Grower. 3 buckets brown peat, 1/2 cut lime, 2 buckets coarse sand, 3 cups base fertilizer, 1 bucket soil, 2 buckets compost. If I try it again, I will use less sand, or replace the sand with perlite.


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If I do it, I'll only use the same Mel's mix I garden with. Hopefully it won't dry out.

On a separate note, I expect the way to water the blocks is to fill the tray with a half inch of water and let the soil wick it up? Just a thought.


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RE: Soil Blocks

I am planning to use:
1/3 coco coir
1/3 homemade HM compost
1/3 fine grind vermiculite
A dash of dried blood for the adhesion, they used it years ago for making glue.
A pinch of Epson salts for the magnesium.
The blocks will be placed in humidity chambers so I do not think drying out will be a problem.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Well, I found out that nobudy sells coco coir/peat around me. So my recipe will change to 50% HM compost and 50% fine grind vermiculitr.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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I'm not sure that mixture will hold enough to make decent blocks. From what I've read, you need some soil/sand/silt mixture in there to make mud "glue".


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RE: Soil Blocks

I think the dried blood will take care of that.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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Let me know how that works out for you.


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John, are you talking about bloodmeal or did you cut yourself makeing it? Hehe. Sorry had to ask.

Seriously, I have bloodmeal (for nitrogen I recall). Never would have thought of using it to start seeds though. How much do you use?


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You know me I march to different drummer than any you have ever heard. What did we use before peat moss or coir was available commercially? I used about 1/3 cup of DB per 1gal of compost/vermiculite. The DB is slow release nitrogen and I do not think it will be too much for the seedlings. Somewhere down the road though, I want to try wheat flour and make sort of a compost machete. You can bet your bippie though I will blog about it.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Hehe, I have some wheat flour that I just heard goes bad over time, so I could use it in my soil blocks. Fun idea. Compostmarche!

And as far as the DB goes, I'll try that too. At least you didn't say you spilt your BM on it and decided it was a good idea to get the seedlings sloshed! Hehe


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RE: Soil Blocks

Hummmm, every thing that goes into a BM is organic, I will have to think on that one. Sippp, slurp...Hic. ;o)

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Looking for an update from you!

I was inspired by this post a while back, and I tried my own variation:

I cut some toilet paper tubes in half, and packed some moistened seed starting mix into the bottom (about 1/3 of the height). I then loosely packed moistened seed starting mix into the rest of the tube, leaving a small amount of head room at the top. I then planted the tomato/pepper seeds in the top and lightly covered them with a little more seed starting mix.

The results have been very good. Tomato germination in 4 days (placed in my pantry - on a shelf next to my furnace - air temp can vary from 70 degrees up to about 85 when the furnace runs for any extended period of time). Peppers germinated in 8-10 days, placed in the same spot.

When watering, I bottom watered, and the "blocks" stayed almost completely intact, just a little bit of the bottom layer eroded, very minor though.

When I potted up, the tomato roots were all the way to the bottom of the block, but I didn't have to break off any, as I did with the peat pellets to take the plastic netting off (I found that the netting - contrary to the manufacturer claims - left my herbs root bound last year). I gave the blocks a little more water (about an hour before potting up) and the toilet paper tubes just came right off the soil block, and I dropped the block right into the next size container and covered almost to the first leaves.


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RE: Soil Blocks

Hi eaglesgarden, I had forgot about this post and been updating my progress in my journal with lots of photos. When I first heard about soil blocks, I thought it was all hype and somebody was just trying to make some money. With all of the positive posts about them, I decided to try them. Now I am sold on them and will be starting all my seeds with soil blocks. BTW last year, counting all veggies and posies, I started over 500 plants. That would require about 250 toilet paper tubes. Now I have been told that I am full of crap but I do not think I full enough to acquire 250 tubes.:o)

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

I can attest to the greatness of John's block maker. I love it! I'm going to make myself another (smaller) one. The one John gave me is great for tomatoes, peppers, squash, cukes....the larger veggies, but I think I'd like a smaller one for lettuce, marigold, spinach, etc. I have the bottle that is the size I want, all I have to do is find the correct size washer, then I can use the same acorn nut, bolt and handle for both block makers....the innards will be interchangeable.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Soil Blocks

Granny - you said "innards". Ha! That's a southern word....I believe you may have a little bit of redneck in ya.

Ok....I've been seeing everyone's pictures of their soil blocks, and admit that it's really neat. I'm not jumping on the soilblock wagon just yet, but remain very intrigued by them...Hmm...

EG


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EG..try 'em, you'll love 'em! I'll do strictly soil blocks next year. I had to buy the peat pots to get the flats with clear plastic lids this year, but I got them all used up. Then I found some heavy plastic trays at the dollar store that I can use with the plastic domes I already had (from my rabbit'$ expen$ive $pring mix lettuce). They are smaller, but easier to move around and good for bottom watering.

I think I picked up a lot of words (like innards and whippersnapper) from my grandparents, who were both raised in Missouri.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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Thanks Granny. EG you haven't spent enough time in Northern Appalachia. We have used innards for a long time to make sausage, and yes we have a lot of red-neck in us. ;o)
John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

*******BTW last year, counting all veggies and posies, I started over 500 plants. That would require about 250 toilet paper tubes. Now I have been told that I am full of crap but I do not think I full enough to acquire 250 tubes.:o)

Well, to be honest, some of mine are actually paper towel tubes! My 3 year old makes a lot of messes, so we go through a pretty good amount of paper towels at home. A paper towel roll can produce 4 or 5 "soil blocks".

I just wanted to offer up my variation for anyone not interested in making their own soil block maker and not willing to spend the money to buy one pre-made either. (like me ;-) No time to make one, and no money to buy one!

As far as granny's frozen variation, my wife has already given my plants (yes, my plants - she takes no responsibility or credit for them) a place in the pantry for germinating, an area in our bedroom for the lights while putting on true leaves, and the top of the dryer at night for my trays of plants that are in the process of hardening off, I don't think that she would give up some freezer space on top of all that!


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Oh, pooh...one ice cube tray in the freezer overnight won't hurt her! I just ignore Mr. H when he complains about the cow-poop ice cubes. Now we're back home where he has an ice maker, so all he complains about is the 8' of counter space I take up in the garage, the one side of the bathroom sink where I put three containers to "hatch", the other containers that are on top of the freezer and have to be moved to the top of the dryer if we have to get something out of the freezer. I think Mr. H and your wife are being quite petty.

*wink*

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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I have been reading and looking at your journal and stuff, how exactly do you make these blocks?


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Granny,

That made me chuckle! They may be petty now, but they will be extremely appreciative when the produce starts flow in the back door! No pesticides, no synthetics, just hard work, nutrients (in natural form), water and sunshine!


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RE: Soil Blocks

eaglesgarden, I think Mr. H is coming around. He made two trips to town today to try to find the owner of a trailer full of trash, because it had about 20 five-gallon buckets on it. Unfortunately, we can't get anyone to answer the door to the house where it's parked. And just this afternoon he emptied a half dozen old medicine bottles and worked at cutting them to the proper size to make me a round block maker. He succeeded, too (on the fourth try)! Now I have a square one from John, and a smaller round one from Mr. H. I made 33 soil blocks after dinner. Mr. H does what he can to please me....he wants tomatoes :-)

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Soil Blocks

listenstohorses, there is a video on my left sidebar in the journal or do a YouTube search on "soil block"

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


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RE: Soil Blocks

Thank you so much John. You are a great resource, keep up the good work!!


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