Down on the Urban Farm
Now that the first summer planting flush is over, it’s time to get started on the second round of planting. Folks often ask us why is our small garden so productive. One of the main reasons is we have successful succession plantings. When one crop goes out, another one comes in.
It was pretty hot out the other day; but Justin had the right idea. He was in the shade making soil blocks – over 1,ooo of them! He’s a pro soil blocker, whipping out dozens in just a few seconds. Thump, thump, thump.
What will Justin be planting in the soil blocks?
Another batch of summer squash, assorted greens and basil (can never have enough basil!).
If you’d like to have some fun in the garden and whip up some of these babies yourself, here’s how:
Soil Block Maker (buy online)–spring-loaded tool that shapes and ejects four 1-3⁄4-in. cubes of compressed potting mixture. We’ve had ours for nearly 18 years and it’s still cranking out thousands of soil blocks every year – best garden tool investment we’ve made! Heck, I imagine that thing’s made over 50,000 soil blocks (that’s a conservative estimate!).
Oh yeah, and you can get the nifty Garden Hat that Justin’s wearing on our online store too! We find the this hat very durable and great at keeping the summer sun at bay.
Ok, back to the soil blocks
Using a soil blocker has a lot of advantages – saves money and is eco friendly. For one, it’s a much cheaper way to start seedlings. What’s more, you can prepare your very own compost-based soil block mix – another savings! The savings just don’t stop there – no more plastic or peat pots!
An ideal soil mixture must be fibrous enough to hold together through many waterings – Basic Soil Mix Recipe ( you can definitely modify)
Make a slurry of soil and water, mix well in a large tray (concrete mixing tray works well). Add one part water to every three parts soil mix. Tip: Let the mixture soak overnight.
Now the fun begins. Your mixture should be nice and moist. It’s better for it to be on the wet side; if it’s too dry, your blocks will crumble as they’re punched out. Excess water will be pressed out in the blocking process.
Plunge the blocker into the mixture, twisting down as you push so the blocker will be as full as possible. Pick up the blocker, if the cubes need more soil use your fingers to add more. Make sure each cube is filled tightly by pressing it against the palm of your hand. It is important for the blocker to be firmly packed with soil.
Scrape off any extra soil from the bottom of the blocker, and set the blocker in whatever container you’re using. Now, punch out your blocks. Easey, peasey
We seed all my crops this way except for root crops like turnips, beets and carrots. Root crops don’t do well in soil blocks because of their long roots.
Place the trays and remember to KEEP THE BLOCKS MOIST at all times.
For best results, plant your seedlings outdoors as soon as roots appear. Since the soil blocks retain water better than peat pots or pellets, no special care is needed after planting.
Now that you have the low down on soil blocks, go forth and plant.
Happy sowing, blocking and growing!