Monday, April 23, 2012
Favorite Thing - Soil Blocks
I'm glad to say that my love/hate relationship with soil blocks has now grown into being one of just love. (Exciting, I know.) I think the "hate" part of it was the result of having to source and combine the ingredients to create the soil block mix each year. One benefit of living in Vermont is that many of local garden centers carry Vermont Compost Company's Fort Vee potting mix, which is designed for soil blocks. Having used it now for the past couple of months, I have to say that I'm a HUGE fan. Hopefully I'll never have to go back to making my own mix ever again.
This year, I decided to buy a 1 1/2 inch soil blocker to accompany my 2 inch and 3/4 inch mini blockers. I start most of my melons, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers and larger brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower each year using the 2 inch blocker. However, this size block is a generally too large for greens like spinach and lettuce and most Asian greens like bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, choy sum, etc. The 1 1/2 inch blocks are good for onions and beets as well. If you're on a tight gardening budget, I'd recommend getting the 2 inch blocker to start, but now that I have both, I couldn't imagine doing without either. Admittedly, I haven't found much use for the 3/4 inch mini blocker and doubt that I ever will.
I generally sow 2 to 3 seeds per block and then thin the seedlings down to 1 (with the exception of scallions, which I don't thin, and large seeds, which I sow 1 or 2 per block). Most of the time, I get pretty good germination rates this way.
For tomatoes and peppers, I generally pot-up to a 3 or 4 inch pot once they've outgrown their blocks and bury as much of the stem as I can. I'd consider buying a 4 inch blocker but don't think it's really worth it.
Anyway, if you've never tried soil blocks, I hope you give them a try. The blockers run about 25 to 30 dollars each but are well worth the investment in my opinion.