Soil blocks for growing seed

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bobbyt

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Soil blocks for growing seed
« on: January 05, 2021, 16:06 »
Hi Everyone. Anyone had any experience of using compressed soil blocks made with the tool. Thinking of trying it this year instead of using pots. If so, any advice on the soil mix to use so it stays together.

There are loads of 'recipes' on line, most are peat free, but confused about which to use. One I saw, is 3 parts coco coir (I fancy trying this as well), 1 part vermiculite, 2 parts compost, and a dash of fish, blood and bone. Then another was 3 parts compost, 1 part soil, 2 parts vermiculite and 2 parts coco coir, plus water of course for both. So a bit confused, hence needed to know if anyone has first hand experience at all. Appreciate any advice. Thanks.

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Ema

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2021, 08:55 »
Hi Bobbyt

Iíve never tried soil blocks, for the confusion/art you talk about.

I have grown peat free for the last couple of years. I find coir has got quite expensive unless you are just buying the tiny plugs.

Do you have the space to be buying all the ingredients to make your own mix?

I have been using Westland new horizon compost for seeds and have found this ok, it has a fine fibrous texture and contains coir. I do find that hungry seedlings like squash need a little feeding before they are ready to plant out. So it may work in a block press.

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jezza

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2021, 10:52 »
Hello I know the blocks you a talking about 1icn x1inch for lettuce cauliflower, cabbage sprouts ,onions  2imchx2inch for cucumbers courgettes 3inchx3 inch for tomatoes I use to make 12,000 -14000 an hour with an auto blocker,we used a 60 /40 mix sedge peat sphagnum peat blended with 1/2 hundred weight of blood fish and bone to the ton through the shredder wetter,soil only dries out to quick and wont let roots penetrate a John innes with blend would work but it's the water holding properties that's needed  jezza

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bobbyt

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2021, 12:46 »
Thanks Ema and Jezza, I found coir blocks for £3.50 each which makes about 9 litres per block, I'm not mass producing - probably use 2 x blocks and mix with the seed compost and vermiculite, plus some garden soil as well in the recipe I mentioned with fish, blood and bone for nutrients. I'll only need a plastic container and a soil sieve to mix them up in, and just use a bucket to activate the coir, so not a lot of space required really.

I've since found a couple of Youtube videos and looks like the mix works quite well from their experience. I can always experiment between now and planting time to see if the blocks are ok. Thanks for the replies.

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Fishplate42

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 09:36 »
Hi Bobbyt,

I am trying soil blocks seriously for the first time this year. I did give it a try over 30 rears ago when Levington's produced a single soil blocker made from moulded plastic. They also produced a 'special' blocking compost, that was horrendously expensive. I tried making a few blocks of my own, but I was not overly successful. The mix is really just a combination of growing medium and something to hold the block together. The ratios banded about on the web you refer to sound as if they will work. The secret is to add plenty of water, much wetter than you would think. I am not intending to use the system for all my sowing as I am a great believer in finding the best approach for each crop. I am also using both the small (20mm) blocks and the larger (50mm) blocks that can be used to 'pot-on' the smaller blocks.

Experiment with the compost mixes for structure first, once you have that right, then decide what nutrients you want to add if any. I will only be using the smaller blocks to germinate seed, the larger, growing-on blocks will have fertiliser/minerals added as required by the specific crop being grown.

 I hope this helps, Ralph.
I need more space...

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bobbyt

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 15:42 »
Thanks Ralph, that is helpful. I'll try some soil mixes in the next couple of weeks, am waiting until the temperature gets away from freezing point to save my hands being numb !

I have the 4 x 50mm soil blocker. I'll try different levels of 'wetness' and mixture ratios, then leave and check after a while to see if they hold together. I intend using these for most of my seedlings to see how it goes. Cheers. Rob

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rowlandwells

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 10:51 »
I'm pleased you mentioned this topic because when i was tidying out my tool shed  i found my old block maker I've had that for years and i think as I've got some well rotted horse manure i can make a mix up with peat or compost that mite bind together to make a block anyway its worth a try

I'm going to take a look on youtube for a bit more info also there must be a binding agent that one can get for making these blocks and yes i used blocking compost some years ago but it was expensive and i haven't seen any for sale in any garden centres

so it looks like the old chestnut trial and error  :D


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Fishplate42

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2021, 15:18 »
I'm pleased you mentioned this topic because when i was tidying out my tool shed  i found my old block maker I've had that for years and i think as I've got some well rotted horse manure i can make a mix up with peat or compost that mite bind together to make a block anyway its worth a try

The secret seems to be adding far more water than you would think to a mixture of fibrous material mixed with loam and some drainage/aeration medium. I am still experimenting at the moment, but when I have something I am happy with... and if it ever stops raining, I will post some pictures and my recipe.

Ralph.   

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rowlandwells

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2021, 15:33 »
yes i would be interested if you can crack this Ralph and i will do the same when i start making my blocks if it works should we patent it :lol:

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Fishplate42

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2021, 16:49 »
yes i would be interested if you can crack this Ralph and i will do the same when i start making my blocks if it works should we patent it :lol:

Now, there's a thought. All we need is a snappy name, and we could make a fortune  :D

Ralph 8)

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jezza

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 20:59 »
Hello theres no binding agent for the compost blocks when I made them with the auto blocker I had 40 tons of sedge  sphagnum moss peat it went through a wetting machine a constant screw auger with a water supply the compost had to be wet enough to hold to gether when compressed but not to wet that sprayed water every were when the forming press compressed it if it was to wet it went back through with out the water on till it was right ,8 tatty sippet full of compost went into the shredder  then into the the wetter with the water on at 5 gallons to 8 fork fulls,the barrow held 8 fork fulls of wetted compost that took some lifting,the auto blocker had to have a constant barrow load every 7 minutes the compost had to be prepared at 3 tons ahead of the auto blocker producing 166 blocks a minute ,10000 an hour of 1 inch 1inch blocks,   jezza

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rowlandwells

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2021, 16:44 »
that's some blocks Jezza and from what your saying its compaction that keeps the blocks together and was the blocks sowed with an automatic seed sower?

what did you sow in the blocks?

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jezza

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2021, 21:11 »
Hello the seed was sown with an auti seeder a hopper that had small brushes fixed on a bar that swept the seed through a small hole if the seed was pelleted  un pelleted was hand sown by 2 people with a pair of tweezers,it was lettuce  cabbage cauliflower spring onions, leeks (slightly less compacted blocks)  tomatoes and cucumber was sown by hand in 3inch x 3 inch blocks  we had an air seeder but it couldn't cope with the amount we needed to sow   jezza

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bobbyt

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2021, 15:04 »
Bit warmer today - 9 deg - so decided to try out the new soil blocker. Never used one before, but looked at advice on here and Youtube.
So, the soil mix I tried was 3 parts coco coir (bought some 9ltr blocks to try), 2 parts seed compost - which I sieved first - I was surprised how many solid big lumps were in there, thought seed compost was supposed to be fine ! 1 part vermiculite - probably should've bought smaller size, but it seemed ok - and one part soil (shop bought bag). Mixed it up into quite a wet mix, and seems to work ok. I have attached a pic to see. I plan to put them on top of a layer of wetted cardboard in a seed tray. When I want to use them for real, I will add a nutrient as well to the mix. Not sure what will happen after a few days, the plan is, as long as they are kept damp, they should hold together until the roots do that job.

I did pick them up and move them just to see if I could, and they didn't fall apart, so good result I think. Can anyone see any flaws in my plan at the moment? I'm tempted to try a few seeds in them, but may be a bit cold yet for anything to germinate. I have a heater mat coming soon, so maybe leek seeds in the blocks may work then in the greenhouse?
* 50mm_2inch Soil Blocks.pdf
(2285.14 kB ~ Downloads: 72)

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rowlandwells

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Re: Soil blocks for growing seed
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2021, 09:50 »
that's my only concern if the blocks fall apart then I'm wasting my time blocking so I'm hoping my mix will work I'm not a coir user so i can't comment on that so its a suck it and see thing  if all of us who are going to do blocks could  give a feed back if there working for you?



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