As demonstrated on Gardeners World - Instead of buying plastic seed trays and pots, use this handy Soil Block Maker to make your own soil blocks in which you can raise your young plants. This soil blocker maker transforms compost into 5cm blocks of compressed compost, which hold their shape without a container. They are ideal for seed sowing and pricking out young seedlings. Once grown the plants PLUS the blocks can be transplanted directly into your garden / container. Better for you- no pots to clear up and better for the plant-no root disturbance.
This Soil Block Maker is made of robust zinc-plated steel, which will last for years and is very easy to use. As well as reducing the need for plastic pots (which is good for the environment and reduces the clutter in your shed!), soil blocks also help seeds germinate. Sow seeds into the top of each block and once germinated, the roots are free to fill the block. When large enough plants can be planted directly into the garden / container. The key to making soil blocks that hold their shape is to use soggy compost - regular compost from the garden centre works well or specialist blocking compost is available from some suppliers. The soil block maker produces 4 x 5cm blocks at a time. The air space created between each block is enough to keep the roots from growing from one block to another, so they can be easily seperated and once transplanted into the garden / container the plants quickly establish as there is no root damage. To make your soil blocks :-
- Wet the compost thoroughly.
- Press the soil blocker into compost 2 or 3 times to fill the chambers with compost.
- Scrape the end of the blocker to remove any excess compost from the bottom of the blocks.
- Depress the plunger to eject the blocks.
- The soil blocker leaves a small indentation in the top of each block ready for a seed.
- Plant one seed into the top of each block or if sowing very small seed such as lobelia 'pinch' sow a few seeds. For larger seeds cover with vermiculite but leave smaller seeds uncovered.
- At the correct temp. (see seed packet for guidance) germination will be rapid as the soil block will provide all the moisture needed (do not water until after germination). Once established, the plants can be planted directly into the garden / container.
- Water soil blocks regularly as the plants grow - if they do dry out plunge them into water 20-30 minutes.
- Once the plants are big enough transplant into the garden / containers.
N.B. Soil Blocks were featured earlier this year on BBC Gardeners World. "Monty’s on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic he uses in the garden and one solution is to make soil blocks for seed sowing. Here he gives a step-by-step guide on how to go about it." If you did not see it, CLICK HERE to see the clip on the BBC website.