Seed Starting and Soil-Block Supplies
Starting seeds at home is an economical and efficient way to grow plant starts for your farm or garden. Most bagged seed starting mixes are sufficient to germinate seeds; however, adding as little as 10% worm castings will help improve the germination rate of seeds, root development and the growth rate of plants. Planting mixes can be further enhanced with the addition of soil amendments such as Azomite to provide trace elements, Lime to help balance pH and provide calcium, a source of Nitrogen to help enhance rapid growth, a Phosphorus source to help with root development, or a source of Potassium to help plants deal with environmental stress. Incorporating soil amendments with your seed starting mix will have a substantial impact on your plant starts. A little dusting will do wonders.
DIY Seed Germinating Mix
- 3 parts sand
- 1 part Worm Castings
Soil-blocking is a resourceful technique to produce plant starts from seed without the use of plastic pots and containers. Soil blocks create a healthy environment for your vegetable seedlings, producing vigorous plants with unrestricted roots that will quickly establish themselves upon transplanting. Soil-blocking materials can be sourced from 100% local ingredients helping to reduce the expense and impact of imported peat based potting mixes and plastic bag. Some locally sourced materials worth considering are ; sifted native soils, farm produced compost, homemade vermicompost, locally sourced river sand from a stream and / or grit from pulverized eggshells.
Where to purchase a soil-block maker: https://www.johnnyseeds.com/search/?q=soil-block+maker&lang=en_US
Option I - Soil-block Recipe:
- 2 part seed starting potting mix
- 2 part sifted compost
- 1 part worm castings
- 1/2 part sand (coarse river sand)
- Optional ingredients
- Dusting of Lime (to provide calcium, and help with pH stabilization)
- Dusting of Azomite (to fortify the mix with micro nutrients)
- Dusting of Tennessee Brown Phosphate (as a source of Phosphorus, Calcium, Silica and trace elements)
- Warm water or a compost extract
Option II - Soil-block Recipe:
- 2 coco coir bricks
- 9 lbs or worm castings (7+ quarts)
- 7 quarts sifted compost or another form of worm compost
- 5 quarts coarse grit (We like to use sand from the stream)
- 1 lb. Azomite (optional)
- 1 lb. Lime (optional)
- 1 lb. Tennessee Brown Phosphate (optional)
- Place the 2 coco coir bricks into a wheelbarrow
- Add 3 gallons of water and allow the coco coir to absorb the water and expand (15-30 min.)
- Loosen the coco with a rake or hoe and add the rest of the ingredients mixing thoroughly as you go.
- The mix needs to be fairly wet to form nice blocks. Add water as needed to keep the soil blocking mix nice and moist.
- Once thoroughly mixed, push the soil block maker into the soil blocking mix and press tightly.
- Squeeze the soil blocks out and lay them out on wooden boards or in potting trays.
~This recipe makes approximately 200 of the 2-inch soil blocks~
Interested in making your own soil blocker? Start here... https://insteading.com/blog/the-diy-soil-block-maker-7-plans/
Here are some other resources for making soil blocks:
- Soil Blocking eBook – really awesome free ebook from AllSun, with lots of details including commercial soil block use
- Allsun.com.au – recipes for soil blocking mix, plus lots of good photos and tips for using the blockers
- PottingBlocks.com – recipes for soil blocking, plus look around the site for lots more information on soil block use
- Another soil block recipe
- JohnnySeeds soil block maker info sheet