So today I had to plant my tomato and pepper seeds and I wanted to try out my mini soil blocker. I’m growing by the lunar calendar and so this weekend was my time to plant those first seeds. I have a whole bunch I need to do next week but this was a nice start! I have been so busy with my chicken hutch though that I didn’t even try to get my grow rack set up. So, I did a makeshift mini greenhouse instead. I also had some problems using the mini soil blocker… i remembered having difficulties last year as well.
My main issue is this – you are supposed to use finely screened compost and peat moss to make the mix. I am not going to spend my time screening my compost. And instead of peat moss, I used coconut coir, which does have some long-ish fibers. Using a rougher mix is ok when you are using the 2″ soil blocker but with the mini it made things really difficult.
So out of frustration, I finally figured out a way to get the blocks charged. They are not perfect by any means, but they will do the job. I needed to use the mini soil blocker because I have limited space and I am wanting to have some extras for selling. I was initially going to just sow in a flat but then I forgot I have no flats… lol.
Anyway, so here’s what I did.
First, I scraped a good amount of my soil blocker mix onto a tray.
Stick the soil blocker right into the middle of the pile of soil mix mess and push it down while twisting just a bit.
Continue to push and twist until you are all the way to the bottom of the tray. See the circular marks I made when I was twisting? Now I know that I’ve gone down as far as I can.
Using a spatula, I carefully slide it under the blocker and lift it up.
You can see there’s a thick layer of soil mix sludge on the bottom of the blocker.
I then do it again – I scrape the leftover mix sludge into a pile in the middle, then charge the blocker even more. You can do this a third time if you want.
Here it is, fully charged. You can see that there are some spots around the edges that aren’t really fully packed, so I usually rectify that with my spatula on the next step…
I couldn’t get a pic of the process since scraping off the excess DID take both hands but I bet if you think REAL hard you could figure it out! Har har har. So yeah scrape off the excess with a spatula till it’s flat on the bottom and you can see the dividers.
To unload the soil blocks, just place the blocker face down on your “final resting place” if possible. Gentle squeeze the blocker while lifting up. I find that the blocks stay put if I just slightly jiggle it as I am removing the blocker – you can feel when the blocks have fully released.
And here you have it! They look kind of… like brownies! lol. Each “charge” has 20 mini-cubes that are just right for starting small seeds like tomatoes, peppers, etc. I’ll blog the process when I pot them up just so you can see that as well.
Did that tray look kinda familiar? Well, here’s the other part to my ingeniousness. OK actually I am NOT the one who thought of this, I saw it online somewhere and I thought it was quite brilliant. Use an upside down Sterilite shoe box! These are regularly $1 each at my local Fred Meyer, just for what it’s worth. It makes a nice mini greenhouse and the top and bottom latch together which is really nice especially when you have inquisitive kittens like I do. This is nice and convenient because I can just stick it in my bay window for now until I have my seed rack up and running.