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Soil Blocks

Garth Brown |

Instead of cells or pots I use soil blocks for all my early vegetable starts. The process involves making a wet soil mix (there are a bunch of different recipes) and using a specialized tool that forms them into perfect little cubes, each of which is planted with a seed or seeds. It takes a bit of experimentation to blend the mix correctly and to get the hang of the block maker, but the returns are worth it. Blocks provide each seedling with more soil volume than a standard cell tray, and they are easy to water simply by briefly immersing them in a tub or, if they are on a solid tray, pouring some water onto it. But the best thing about soil blocks is that they let you plant out starts without disturbing the roots at all.

I’ve started early carrots and beets, as well as onions, and Alanna started the celery root, tomatoes and peppers, as well as a few cabbages, though we won’t seed the main storage crop for a couple weeks. The late spring significantly delayed everything in the garden, and now we are all scrambling to catch up. The forecast is finally looking good enough to begin planting in earnest. Once it warms up I usually stop dealing with soil blocks and starts, since direct seeding is so much easier, but this year I’m going to experiment with starting all my parsnips in blocks and planting them out as soon as they germinate. This is because parsnips, no matter how thickly I seed them, always end up with a spottier stand than I would like.


The first calf of the year was born today. In the past we’ve always put the bull in too early, meaning calves have often started arriving in early April. But last year we kept him away from the herd until mid July, and the result is a much less stressful calving season. It’s been a beautiful day for a calving, though it would be nicer if the cows were on fresh pasture, rather than still munching away on hay. But anytime the end result is a live calf up and nursing there’s no cause for complaint.


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