Do you want a more environmentally sustainable seed starting method that does not use plastic and provides more oxygen to the roots for healthier plant growth and less transplant shock? Soil Blocks may be your answer. Plants are grown in compressed blocks of soil that are pressed from a metal tool. They are an ancient method of growing starts that the Aztecs developed. Europe has been using this method for more than 100 years and refined the tools that create the blocks. It is an easy process to learn and the Milagro Community Garden produced 1,200 starts in three hours with a handful of gardeners that were using the soil block tools for the first time.
The soil mix includes sand, compost and other elements that help the blocks stay together. There is a 2”x2” tool to start seeds and then a larger block that the 2”x2” fits inside to reduce shock to the young roots.
It is an investment to purchase the soil block tools, but the garden hopes to use these for all future years of seed starts. The other tools needed were a large “bowl” to mix the seed starting mix. Milagro Community Garden used a children’s swimming pool. The trays used did not have any perforation so that watering can happen in the tray. It wicks into the soil block in a few hours. The starts are in a hoop house with a plastic cover directly over them to maintain temperature during the New Mexico spring with 65-degree days and freezing nights. You can contact the garden at MilagroGarden@yahoo.com with questions about their experience.
If you would like to learn more about the soil blocking system and soil starting mix, visit the potting blocks website.