Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life is a blur.  Every single day just flies by.  Thank goodness for the falling leaves to serve as a reminder that it is time to get ready for fall.  Otherwise, it would all just pass me by. 

Having been gently reminded by Mother Nature herself, I have begun to prep (finally!) for the changing season.  However, I have a tendency to lean a little type-A.  I will let this photo speak for itself:

Yes, I love graph paper.  And rulers. 
(In case it's not clear, these are plans for two of my garden beds.)

Now that I know what I am going to plant and how many of each, it's time to get crazy with my soil block maker and start some seeds.  Oh yea!  Love this thing.  Here's what I love about it-  all you need is good soil.  Well, and the actual soil block maker and some trays.  But, once you invest in those initial supplies, you're set.  No more plugs or pots or fiddling with newspapers.  You just press, twist, depress, sow.  Done. 

Above, you see my soil block maker and blocking mix.  Now, the mix is key.  I have been using a recipe I found in Eliot Coleman's book, The New Organic Grower.  This mix works well every single time.  Here's the recipe:  (Use a standard 10 quart bucket and one cup measuring cup.  This is a very large recipe so I suggest either sharing with a fellow gardening buddy or be sure you have a place to store the extra.  It will store well if you let it dry out before storing and then keep it in a bin or a trash can with a lid.)
  • 3 buckets of brown peat
  • 1/2 cup of lime
Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  • 2 buckets of sparse sand or perlite
  • 3 cups of base fertilizer.  (Base fertilizer is equal parts blood meal, bone meal and greensand.)
Mix these ingredients well.
  • 1 bucket soil
  • 2 buckets compost (I actually use 3 buckets of Farmer D's compost and call it a day.  That stuff is soooo purty.)
Mix all these ingredients thoroughly and add water until the mix can hold its shape when squeezed into a ball, but is not soggy.  Think of a snowball.  You don't want so much water that the snowball melts away when you try to squeeze it together and you don't want it so dry that it won't hold together at all.  To be completely honest, I usually make this the night before and then give it a good watering and a good mixing.  The next day, after sitting all night, it (miraculously) has the perfect texture for blocking.  Then, you just get busy!

Soil blocks ready for sowing.  The block maker creates a dimple in the middle of the block for you to drop your seed in.  Once I have all my seeds in place, I just go back with a little extra mix to cover the dimple.  I then give everything a good watering with a mister. 

Once you get the hang of this, you can knock out a tray of soil blocks in no time.  Being a planner, I knew how many seeds I was going to start of each variety, so I built all the blocks first and then brought them over to the table and just sat there dropping seeds in while the kids played water gun wars on the driveway.

At the end of the day, I had all 250+ seeds started in flats. 

Closer image of one flat with the seeds sown and the dimple filled in with a little more mix. 

Ahhh.  Now that I have slowed down just long enough to get this done, I will return to living life at what feels like warp speed.

1 comment:

  1. I adore graph paper too, and rulers. Usually I'm drawing calendars and floorplans though.