Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring garden: seed starting

 (photo courtesy of Will Parkhurst)

This year I opted to try a new method of starting seeds using soil blocks.  I saw this system when I went to the Mother Earth News Fair this past fall.  In previous years, I have made little pots out of newspaper to start my seedlings.  However, this method promised to be less time intensive, use less space and produce seedlings with strong root systems in less time than with regular seed sprouting techniques - it all sounded almost too good to be true.  I saw a demonstration at the fair and the kit came with a video so I figured I was off to a good start.  Here is how I made out on this adventure so far:

Mixed the potting soil mix with lots of water and fill the form to make the blocks

 It took several tries (ok a bunch) and my method isn't pretty, but I finally got the form filled so everything didn't fall out when I tried to unmold the blocks.

And finally some blocks that held together nicely.

The blocks sit on heating mats to encourage sprouting.  You can see a few blocks tumbled over when I watered, but overall things stayed together pretty well especially on the blocks I made later.

After a couple of weeks, we have sprouts!  

Some pepper seedlings

Although I had a little difficulty getting good blocks on my first tries, after a little practice, I was able to get better at figuring out the right amount of water needed to make the blocks hold together.  This method saved so much space over the potting cups I've used in the past because there are 20 small blocks in each large one.  I have 10 large block so the potential of 200 small seedlings if they all sprouted (which they won't) so I was able to get all the seedlings started in about half the space of last year.  It also saved time overall not having to make the paper pots beforehand and them filling them individually with potting soil mix. I'm definitely going to use this method again.  

Thanks for reading!  

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
how I started seeds last year
mid-summer garden

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  1. That soil looks so rich and delicious--looks like chocolate squares! :)

    1. Now I'm hungry for brownies! The plants seem to be loving the soil/compost blend and continue to do well nestled on their heat mats while the temperatures have dipped back to a winter chill outside. I'm looking forward to being able to plant them outside in a few weeks so stay tuned for updates :o)