A new toy for me!

soil blocker

This is my new gardening toy. It’s a soil block maker. Its made in England by a company called Ladbrooke.

You might be wondering at this point, “What is a soil blocker?” You use a soil blocker to make 2″ soil cubes to start your seeds in. You cram the 4 holes with wet potting mix, then push down on the handle and out pops 4 perfect little squares of soil. There’s several different sizes, and many of them will nest inside each other, for “potting up” your seedlings. But for me, I chose the basic 2″ size to start with. It seems the most versatile. I can always buy other sizes later, if I really like this method.

What’s the point of a soil blocker? Well, there’s several supposed advantages:

  • You don’t have to clean and store hundreds of plastic pots and cell packs anymore.
  • The soil blocks are just 2″, yet are supposedly equivalent to using regular 4″ pots, because the soil is compressed, so your starts take up less room under the grow lights.
  • Your seedlings do not get root bound, because the roots stop growing when they touch air (“air-pruning” its called).
  • They are easier to plant out into the garden, because you don’t have to wrestle them out of pots. Its more like serving pieces of cake from a 9×13 pan. And because they aren’t root bound, there’s a lot less problems with shock when you plant them out.

On the disadvantage side, there is extra time and patience involved. There is a learning curve to getting the mix of water and materials to the right consistency and cranking out the blocks into the flat. Also, you pretty much have to mix up your own potting mix to use with them.  For me, I might actually save money by mixing my own potting soil, rather than buying several bags of pre-made mix, so it might be worth the extra time it takes to mix it up.

I’ll keep you posted about how this works as I start my first seeds.

Did you get any new gardening “toys” for Christmas this year? Have you ever tried a soil block maker before?

-Susan

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