Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soil Blocker Experiment

Click to enlarge photos

Many thanks to our Cousin Ted who so kindly gave us two soil blockers recently. What a great gift!..thanks Ted. I had seen them for sale in Johnny's catalog and also saw great soil blocking results at last year's Saltscapes where Bancroft Farm was selling their "Garden in a Box".

Being very keen to try them out, I watched the online videos and gave it a go. Within minutes I had all these lovely square nests with a dimple at the top for seeds to settle in and germinate. When that happens and the roots are growing vigorously, the small blocks will be transplanted into the larger soil blocks (which have a special depression to receive them). The benefit of growing from plastic pots to deal with! Also, instead of circling a plant pot, roots are supposed to grow to the edge of the block, concentrating their root mass in the center, so says Johnny's (and other sources online). When transplanted, "there is no root shock and the seedlings establish quickly to their new environment". Ummmm..

There are a few recipes for a soil mix, but I used what I had...a lovely crumbly compost from a local farm where horses are bedded in peat. I did add greensand to this, and a 'dash" of lime...mixing it all to a wet state and blocks. So it has been fun so far except, I didn't much care for the long horse tail hairs in the mix)))).. Oh Well!!

I note today, some of the seeds have germinated.....little cakes on a tray.


  1. Yummy! They almost look like brownies! Sounds like you have great soil there! Maybe the horse hair will prove to be valuable too.

  2. I didn't know soil blockers existed. What I learn on your blog! Its nice your mind and heart are on your garden. Before you know it..... you'll be planting. :)

  3. Go, Bren, Go! That looks like fun. January is certainly interesting...... You are starting seeds and E is outside with the snowblower!!

  4. Nice reference to Graham's garden in a box, Brenda. I'm glad you're liking the soil blocker so far. The days are getting longer...

  5. I do like the term soil blocker - brings all sorts of things to mind. And the 'recipe' for soil too - I'd never thought of that but I guess it is obvious.

    Be good for schools I think

  6. What a good idea - must investigate whether we have anything like that in the UK.

  7. I've never heard, let alond seen soil blockers. In fact wen I saw the impage, I instantly thought chocolate bar, even brownies/

    Sounds like a useful tool and something I will have to look into here in the U.K.

    You are putting me to shame too, I have been neglectingmy garden a lot recnelty. Teh snow has melted, but I have not had the will to go out into the garden. D has though, to leave food for the birds.

  8. Thanks for the photo op's Brenda! The 'summer house' is just heavenly.. such a perfect refuge from the winter winds.. and your seedlings are coming along so well too! I'm also jealous of the size of your cold frame.. who says size doesn't matter!? :)

  9. Thanks everyone for the great comments and encouragement. Think the soil blockers are available in England for those inquiring about them. So far, I have had germination success but do not as yet, see a lot of root growth and some seeds have not germinated...maybe too old, or maybe the fact that the little cakes dried out perhaps more than they should. When I see enough growth to put them in the bigger blocks, hope to post a photo. Again, thanks for the comments and glad you could come by with Carleen and Joe. Oh, and thanks for the tip, I can actually put the germinated Tatsoi in the raised bed now.