Midnight soil blocking shenanigans

Like a kid waiting for Christmas, Alexander Roxborough has been counting down the days until the arrival of our new exciting piece of farm kit – the soil blocker.

Letter box checking, letter box checking, research into mail delivery time frames, phone calls around letter box checking, and more letter box checking have been key features of the last three weeks. Is it there yet? Is it there yet? Is it there yet?

Well, as of yesterday arvy, yes!

Roxy with his prize

Roxy with his prize

Rox was filled with so much excitement at trialling this much awaited technological wonder that he had to pull off a midnight soil blocking mission.

Soil blocks all punched out and ready to go

Soil blocks all punched out and ready to go

Soil blockers create pot-less blocks comprised of a combination of materials including:

  • 2.5 parts cocopeat or peat moss
  • 0.5 part river sand
  • 2 parts worm castings or well rotted compost
  • 0.1 part sieved wood ash or lime

The highly fibrous nature of the blocks holds the materials in place, so you don’t need to keep paying for pots to expand your seedling cache.

The mix

The mix

No pots seem to be a positive boon on another front – the fact that there is no outer boundary to the growing medium is thought to reduce transplant stress on seedlings through greater acclimatisation to the environment and the avoidance of mechanical damage to the soil root structure caused by unearthing.  I am  keen to see evidence of this gathered through comprehensive field experiments before I eat this up completely.

However the idea is compelling, as there is extensive anecdotal evidence gathered through the experience of large scale organic farmers which has suggested that post-transplant growth of seedlings raised in soil blocks suffers less of a delay than equivalent pot grown seedling stock.

The buzz around the technique is also going off with wide uptake of the method by personalities such as Eliot Coleman – a well renowned organic farming guru, Michael Ladbrooke – UK developer of the nifty soil blocking contraption we just scored, David Tresemer – a popular new age change maker in various guises and Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane – proprietors of the successful organic vegetable growing operation AllSun Farm and retailers of soil blocking and other specialist market gardening  kit through their business the Gundaroo Tiller (where we scored our baby).

Learning from gurus in the know...

Learning from gurus in the know…

...like Eliot Coleman

…like Eliot Coleman

Trials of our new system are underway (at all hours of the night and day!) and we look forward to the tasty payoff.

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