Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009

Well, ask and you shall receive Matriachy.  Today's post will be on soil block makers.  Soil blocks take the place of peat pellets or seedling pots.  They are compressed blocks of soil.  One of the benefits I've read about them is that unlike peat pellets, roots don't leave the block and go everywhere.  Instead they turn back around the stay nice and cosy inside the moist soil.  Then, when it comes to transplanting, you simply burry the block.  Simple as pie!

So, a soil block maker, is a tool to make soil blocks.  Duh, right?  Well, it does this by compressing soil and creating a divot for the seed to be planted.  You can see and buy them here.

I want one of them for sure.  You can make four blocks at once.  But, John came across a home made one and made his own from left over prescription bottles.  He posted about them on his blog and on GW.  He did a great job of describing how to build one yourself, but for some reason I couldn't get it.  So instead of humming a few more bars, he graciously offered to make one for me!  Sure enough. I got it the other day.  I'm excited to take it for a test spin this weekend to plant some broccoli and cauliflower.

Tonight I was checking out my tomatoes, to see if they'd germinated.  They hadn't by the way.  This is where I get impatient.  How long to tomato seeds take to germinate at 70 degrees?

Ok, that's not the point, the point is that I saw something that caught my eye.  Prescription bottles are a good size, but soil block makers come in various block sizes.  Look what I came up with...

If I can figure out how to make one of those, I could make a bigger size for the next level.  This bottle is 3 inches and I have another that's 3.5 inches.  Ok, it's just a thought.  The construction's pretty easy, except for the plunger.  I can't figure that out.  Guess more research is in order, hehe.

I tried to find a video of the use of soil block makers.  I know I've seen them before, but YouTube wasn't being cooperative.  Maybe a helpful reader will like one for us.  It's late and today was a bad day.  Hope this all makes sense.

Lastly, I talked a long time ago about my malfunctioning thermostat.  It won't program anymore, so I have to turn it up and down manually.  I've done pretty good at only turning to 70 when it's cold at night then turning it down to 66 the rest of the time to save energy.  A local reader contacted me saying that they were replacing theirs and it still worked, so I could have it.  Well, today I met up with Jennie and she handed me a good-as-new digital touch-screen thermostat.  It's very cool!  She's so nice and generous, not only because she gave me the thermostat.  I met her at a community center just outside Downtown Seattle.  She volunteers there every week doing taxes with United Way.  VERY COOL!  Of course, I feel like a heel.  I saw that same opportunity and was too busy to volunteer.  She wasn't.  Bravo Jennie!  And thank you!

Take care, and enjoy your garden!


  1. The tomato seeds should germinate in 7-10 days, if put into soil. With my method, all peppers and toms have germinated in 5 days. That's pretty interesting about the soil block maker. From the pictures that John had on his journal, there's not much to them. That's pretty cool....


  2. My little toms only took 4-5 days to germinate. When I first checked them it was day six and they were already a leggy 1 1/2-2 inches.


  3. Cool! I had heard of making my own seed pots out of newspaper, but I had not heard of making pot-less seed blocks. I like that idea, a lot. I don't like to waste money on fragile plastic trays that quickly end up in the trash. Thanks for taking the time to explain more.

  4. I think you bigger bottle will work beautifully! I hope you keep us posted on how these work for you.

  5. hmmmm, I may try to make one of those DIY seed block things. Beats buying new plastic seed trays every year.

    So far my tomatos and eggplants have germinated, the peppers have not. I'm starting to worry, its been a week of fairly cold weather in the house, so I dont want the seeds to rot.

    Lesson learned for next year: seperate germinating tomatos and peppers into different trays, since they don't 'pop' at the same time. Now I have half the tray of already leggy 2 inch tomato seedlings (grrr) pressing up against the plastic dome and bending a bit ( uh oh). I like keeping the dome on to keep the air warm/moist till all the seeds sprout. I might have to make a 'taller' greenhouse style top with popsicle sticks and plastic wrap or something. Live and learn!

    The rain here finally stopped today and should be sunny but cold tomorrow. For Valentines day I asked hubby to help me 'survey' and draw out on graph paper how big an area I have to work with so I can sit down and brainstorm how best to arrange the raised beds and trellises for maximum yield. Hes an engineer for heavens sake, if only he'd make a nice computer rendered version for me! :P

  6. Thanks for the glowing comments on the thermostat trade. I hope it's working out well for you. Yes, I made time to volunteer, but that's because I'm a tax geek (true story) and don't have kids. I also have no seeds started yet this year... tradeoffs are everywhere...

  7. Thanks for the glowing comments on the thermostat trade. I hope it's working out well for you. Yes, I made time to volunteer, but that's because I'm a tax geek (true story) and don't have kids. I also have no seeds started yet this year... tradeoffs are everywhere...