Sunday, March 28, 2010
Question: What makes soil blocks better?
Answer: Faster plant growth due to small compressed seedling spaces given just enough room for accelerated growth rate as opposed to loose-filled soil in plastic pots, or larger than necessary seed pots. Stronger, healthier, vigorous seedlings due to the competition factor in small spaces, given just enough room at transplanting to keep the seedling's edge on survival. Air pruning makes soil blocks the only seed starting method in the world where 5-6 sides of the "pot-less" pot are air pruned and completely eliminate transplant shock by keeping the roots safely growing inside the cube, and not anywhere outside of itself. With the miles of linear space for roots to grow in, the compressed cube will not become root bound. When it finally reaches the garden, it will explode into the ground with such tremendous growth rate, you can literally see it grow before your eyes. There's plenty of oxygen for the roots to uptake, because of the exposed sides. Note the pictures showing air flow in a soil block (right) compared to a waterlogged and less oxygenated plastic pot on the left. There's even air trapped inside the compressed block, too. If you were to dry out a block, and then immerse it water, it will spend several minutes releasing air bubbles underneath the water proving air was present in the wet, compacted block. No worries for the seedling in compacted soil; a great seed will penetrate a lot harder conditions than the soil block. And, if it can't, you really shouldn't be growing such weak seedlings anyways.
Also, space is saved because of square shapes fitting together tighter, and time is saved in the end because each compressed block of soil can hold your seedling 3-10 times longer than pots of the same size in other seed germinating systems using loose-filled soil. Plastic pots require constant transplanting to avoid transplant shock, but even then, most seedlings found at a nursery or greenhouse are root bound and stressed anyways.
Finally, soil blocks need only three components for a lifetime of hassle-free seed starting: the soil blocker, the soil, and the seed. What could be easier, if it really works this well?
These facts are verified by independent scientific studies based in Europe, where soil blocks are the preferred method for most vegetable growers, and even large scaled flower growers. If you are researching which option to start your vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, train yourself with soil blocks and you'll learn about gardening without the downfalls of status quo plastic gardening, or as we call it, "gardening with garbage". And, since you found someone willing to teach you online or on the phone, why not have faith and trust that it'll work for you, too?