Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Buying a Soil Block Maker Tool Kit- A Review

The potting blocks starter kit was an experiment that turned into a positive experience that I continue to enjoy today. I used to buy starters for the garden and starting seeds was never very successful for me.
Now I enjoy the process of seeing that first moment of a sprout emerging from the soil, and marvel that on my first shot making the blocks , I yielded a full tray of successful seeds, and in a faster than expected turnaround with a seed starting tray on my side.
Keep in mind, seeds are not my forte, and I all but gave up on this process, never knowing why the seeds didn’t sprout in pots, or which ones they were jumbled in with all the weed sprouts in the ground. I even ran side by side (direct sow in soil vs potting blocks) testing to see which grew heartier, better and more successfully with beets, a seed I had heard grew best when direct sowing. Potting blocks blew the competition out of the water. And I knew which sprouts were my real plants, and eliminate all the weeds around it- not at all like the seeds I direct sowed.
What did I start on my first round? Tomatoes, Basil, bunching onion, peppers, cosmos, chrysanthemum, lupine, melon, beans, squash, corn, beets, sunflowers, kale, parsley, cilantro, eggplant. And the list goes on. I love that this kit is an all in one, only requiring you to buy the seeds and the soil.
I would like to preface that I took many hours getting the soil mixture right the first time. It takes practice to learn what the right mixture is without knowing it first. But you can tell when you get it because the blocks don’t fall apart and they don’t crumble from, being too dry.
Now I can just add the soil by look and feel, and know if a block will hold up or not after one dip.
IF you are considering the pros and cons of buying this item, I would consider these factors:
1. You can watch the seeds start- it’s very fun and is very joyful to see the little plants emerge.
2. You can save money if you use blocks for all your plant starting needs.
3. You can save hassle by eliminating the wonder of if it’s a weed where you planted the seed.
4. You no longer contribute to plastic pot accumulation/recycling of starters.
But also:
5. It will take practice to learn how to make the soil blocks correctly.
6. It is not like the surefire of a starter plant- it takes time for the seed to develop into larger plants.
7. You need to have an outdoor (or easy to clean) indoor work space- I have done blocks while watching TV.
8. Initial cost is higher than buying a season of starts. But if you plan to garden more than one season, you will save money.