Yesterday was spent in the garden again. This time it was time to plant some seeds. 😀
First things first though I had a go at building a gate to allow the chooks and ducks to access full garden free-ranging without disturbing Miss Anna but as I haven’t got a lock as yet I haven’t opened the wire up to get it working. It’s somewhat of a lash up but it will do the job. 🙂
After that was done and the hungry hoards were fed we were back in the garden and planted some seeds. When I say some, I mean LOTS! I’ve been meaning to get it done all month but if it’s not one thing it’s another and it just hasn’t happened. It’s reached critical point though. If I want tomatoes to plant out come November then I need to get a big move on. So I grabbed my bag of seed raising mix, my soil blockers and gloves and got stuck in. 🙂
I discarded the gloves after a few minutes and got stuck in and well dirty and boy was it fun! 😀 The blockers are an awesome tool in the garden as it negates the need to have hundreds of seedling trays and also helps when it comes to transplanting time as the blocks allow the roots to air-prune. They reach the outside of the block and realise it’s an inhospitable environment for them and so stop growing that root and focus on others. This means when you plant them out you are minimising transplant shock as you aren’t pulling the seedling out of the soil and exposing its roots to the air. 🙂 Clever huh.
I have 2 of the 3 blocker sizes, the Micro and the Mini although I opted against the Maxi. It was just a little too dear for me although I really wish I had it. I will have a go at making one using a pot though. The size would really come in handy. 🙂 I purchased them from eBay here if you’re interested. Currently there is no Micro listed and nor is there the Micro/Mini 4 combination pack like I purchased but it is well worth asking as I did. Mastergardens were a pleasure to deal with and very helpful.* 🙂
Anyway, I’d had a play with them a while back but you really need either a bag of seed raising mix or your own seed raising mix to get them to block as they should. Even then there was a bit of trial and error for me.
I started with the Mini blocker which creates blocks about 5cm³ with a hole in the top about 8mm³ which is large enough to plant most medium-sized seeds in. You can also change the pin in the top that makes the hole to be able to put in a Micro soil block which means you can transplant your Micro blocks up to the larger block if it is still too early to plant them out in the garden. 🙂 Very clever. The Maxi blocker has, in its turn a pin to allow the Mini blocks to be inserted. 😀
I digress. 😉
I grabbed my Mini blocker and jammed it down into the seed raising mix them blocked it out. The blocks come out with a press of the lever on the top. My blocks worked but don’t look too sturdy so next time I used my hands to push the soil into the blocker a little more firmly. Ah, better. Third time worked a charm as I crammed the soil in quite firmly. I am sure I’m not doing it right as I’ve never seen Milkwood or any other bloggers jamming it in like that but hey, it’s what worked for me. 🙂
One I had a tray full of blocks I set to work planting out some of my middle-sized seeds.
On to the tray of Micro blocks. The micro blocker I had a lot more trouble getting nice firm blocks but I persevered, running a row of Mini blocks down the middle (they fitted better) and then set to work planting out tomato seeds. I have 8 lots of Micro blocks, eat set made up of 20 individual blocks. Yep, 160 tomato seedlings. I have no hopes of them all germinating but even with a 75% or so germination rate I will have plenty of tomatoes. 😀 I need to find room to plant them all out now! Some will go in the greenhouse bed once the Brassica’s are finished, some will be waiting until garlic harvest time (if we get a harvest that is 😦 ) and yet others will go into as yet unbuilt beds out the front. It’s all so exciting! 🙂
I then filled 2 more trays with Mini blocks and planted out further medium-sized seeds as well as a few more tomato seeds (yes, I planted even more 😉 ) and then called it a day.
If you want more info from more reliable sources than I on soil blocking I can highly recommend Milkwood and their posts here and here on soil blocking. In rereading these this morning i can see now just from the pictures that my seed raising mix is not damp enough which explains the crumble factor. Next time, next time. 🙂 Hopefully they will hold together enough for me but if not then it will be like planting out traditional seedlings I guess.
Ok, so this is what we planted out.
Down the middle of the tomato blocks I ran a row of Mini blocks and planted some spring onion seeds in them.
You can grow rhubarb from crowns or seeds (here is my inspiration for growing from seed).
I also planted some more rainbow chard.
I also planted carrots and parsnip but straight into the garden. They don’t like being blocked so I just loosened some soil between my potato onions and sprinkled the seeds onto the already watered soil. A light dusting of soil over the top and done. 🙂 After reading this blog post (which I shared yesterday) I’ve decided not to thin them. What grows will still be carrots and we don’t care what shape it is. 🙂 In fact, that’s half the fun of homegrown carrots isn’t it? 😉 (Do a google image search for “rude carrot” for a giggle.)
I still feel like I need to plant more seeds and indeed I have more to plant out although most of those will go direct (peas and beans mainly) but I have weeding that needs to be done in that bed first as well as hanging something for them to climb up. Peas and beans might be good at climbing but I doubt that even they could manage to climb a 6 foot wooden fence. 😉
Well, time to get back into the garden methinks. So long hippies. 🙂
*I’ve not been paid to write this and indeed I haven’t spoken with the seller since I purchased my blockers just over 3 months ago. This is just my
not so humble little opinion. 🙂