My Soil Block Journey

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by KK Ng, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    I have decided to try soil block for my seed starter. First stop is at my very messy work top which I hardly use nowadays because of this
    [​IMG]
    This is just a small section of it, trust me you wouldn't want to see the rest of it!:D
    Those orang cap bottles look right for the job and this is what I got after some cutting and attaching.
    [​IMG]
    This is my soil compactor and it is a cylinder not a block. The wooden part is from an old broken hoe handle and my total cost is 0.:D

    For the soil mix I just use my usual 50:50 compost garden soil mix to give it a go and see how will it hold up. This is what I got.
    [​IMG]
    The overall mix is just a little too wet and a little less water would be great. Yes I can lift it up with my finger and it feel safe, no it won't break up.:cool: I have put in a seed to germinate and will be watering it from bottom up when the soil cylinder feels or looks dry. :fingerscrossed: that it will not melt in the water when the time comes:)
     
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  3. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Looking good, KK. Please do send more pics as the project develops.
     
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  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    How inventive to use and re-use items to make your soil blocks--well done! Please keep us updated, especially as to the germination rate and time line for plant growth.
    By the way, a neat workshop is like a neat desk--someone isn't working!
     
  5. Dirtmechanic

    Dirtmechanic In Flower

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    Could you explain this to my Becky?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
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  6. mart

    mart Hardy Maple

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    Thats right MG !
     
  7. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    No sign of sprouting yet from the single Chinese mustard green seed that I put in, maybe because there is no sun and the weather had been quite cool because of the continuous rain. I'll give it another day before I put in more seeds.

    Thanks Sjoerd, I will :)

    Dirtmechanic you can tell her that your desk is not for magazine photography purpose!!! [​IMG]

    Right now I'm thinking of improving the cylindrical soil block maker so that it is easier to handle and faster to produce those blocks. It's back to my pile of 'goodies'. :)
     
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  8. Dirtmechanic

    Dirtmechanic In Flower

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    I have an idea. Ever seen an aluminum can crusher? You hang a bag under to to catch the rushed cans. It could be a soil block making machine.
     
  9. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Thanks Dirtmechanic.

    Went to my pile of goodies and got a couple of things which I could use for my improved cylindrical block maker from my old aquaponic project. A pvc pipe reduction adapter and a short piece of 32mm pvc pipe and this is the result.
    [​IMG]

    This is how it looks like assembled.
    [​IMG]

    The new one is smaller in diameter and taller in height.
    [​IMG]

    Can be handled immediately after it is formed :)
    [​IMG]

    This time I drop in 3 seeds and so the wait begin! :D
     
  10. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    I can see a very little sign of sprouting. I will take a photo when it can be seen on a phone camera :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  11. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    KK, do you realize that your experiment is not just for yourself, but for lots of us who would like to try soil blocks and are learning from you? Thank you, and if I make soil blocks, I'm going to put a little sign up saying, "Thank you, KK!"
     
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  12. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Yes Marlingardener I know that, whatever I post is to share and whoever wants to contribute their ideas or experience is also very welcome here so that we can learn from each other. Together we make gardening fun ya! :stew1::D:stew2:
     
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  13. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Nope there is no sprouts at all on either of the soil block. My conclusion is that they are too dry maybe. One of the main problem of using soil block is watering and I guess I did it wrong. So it was back to google to learn how is the best way of doing it and I think that this is the best way for me.


    One of the corrective measure I did was to lower the height of the soil block by about half an inch so that when watering the water will reach up to the seeds faster. The new one is 2 inches.
    [​IMG]

    Made a new batch of soil with more compost, 60 compost to 40 garden soil, to increase the water retention of the block. The best way to fill the compactor is with a spoon.
    [​IMG]

    The 2 soil block was recycled and I made a set of 9 blocks today.
    [​IMG]
    Having the right consistency it was easy to form the blocks. This time I drop in about 5 seeds in each cavity.

    Now the hard part is waiting. :fingerscrossed:
     
  14. Odif

    Odif In Flower

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    Water your soil blocks frequently. Water from above with a mister whenever it starts to dry out.
     
  15. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Thanks Odif, I'll remember that.

    This morning when I went to check on my seedlings and I was greeted with this.
    [​IMG]
    When I saw that a big smile came to my face, yes it is happiness to see such a wonderful sight.

    Now that it had sprouted, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will take root in the soil block. The soil block is very compact compared to the usual way of using a container. Anyway to water the soil block, I'll put the soil block into another container and pour water into it until it is about ½ in submerged in water.
    [​IMG]
    The container with the soil blocks in it have holes at the bottom so that when water is poured into the larger container, water will get into it. I'll let them soak for an hour before removing it from the larger container. When the container with the soil blocks, excess water would flow out. This work for me because I have not have more than 80 seedlings at ago :)

    Now to wait for the next stage.
     
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  16. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    My confidence in soil block is growing day by day and today I made a total of 20 pieces to start Chinese Kale.
    [​IMG]

    I have thinned out to only one seedling per soil block and only one did not sprout yet.
    [​IMG]
     

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