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The Best Way to Start Seedlings

What is the sustainable method of starting seeds?

Soil blocker is a superior methods of starting seedlings. When it comes to reducing transplant shock and making the job of transplanting easier, nothing beats the soil blocker. Additionally, you’ll save money on supplies and eliminate the cheap plastic containers that are usually used once, but last for decades.

Soil block makers are hand-operated presses that make a compacted soil cube. You start seeds directly in the cube of compressed soil; no container is necessary. Since the cubes’ sides are in contact with air, roots will stop growing when they reach the side of the block. Contrast that with seedlings grown in the plastic pots, in which the roots wrap around the space between the soil and plastic, becoming pot-bound.

When it comes time to transplant the seedlings, just place the block into the prepared hole and water. There’s no prying a pot-bound seedling from a container; no accidentally damaging the root system. I’ve tried various
biodegradable containers designed to go right into the garden soil, including peat pots, peat blocks and coconut blocks, even small paper bags designed to hold potting soil and seedlings. None of them decompose right away resulting in slower root growth after transplanting.

Block makers come in several sizes, designed to handle different size seedlings, or to allow potting-on from one size to the next. I’ve found the two-inch size covers most of my home-gardening needs. However for fast growing plants like tomatoes you may find a four-inch one a useful tool.

The only downside I’ve found is you must water the blocks frequently or they dry out. To make the mix

1- Get a large water-tight open-top container where you’ll make a mixture with “mud-like” consistency.

2- Choose an air-tight container to store the base fertilizer which is a mixture of dry minerals.

3- Select a measuring unit – as a cup, a bowl or any scooping container.

4- Make the base fertilizer. It’s one unit of each, blood meal, colloidal phosphate and greensand. Mix well.

5- Mix 1/8 units of lime with 30 units of coir or peat moss

6- Add 20 units of perlite or coarse sand and mix well

7- Add 3/4 unit of base fertilizer and mix well

8- Add 10 units of soil

9- Add 20 units of compost

10- Mix all dry ingredients well, then add enough water to make a very wet mixture (about 1 part water for 3 part mix)

You will need a soil blocker. This unit is the one we use most frequently. Hand-held 4 Soil Blocker w/New Comfort Grip

About The Author

Siamack Sioshansi

Siamack is the executive director and co-founder of the project. He was born in a small village in southeast Iran where he learned about food and the importance of community resiliency. He attended Purdue University and worked for IBM and Apple Computers before starting a software company. He lives in San Francisco.

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