I thought these looked like gnarly little chocolate cakes, but they are compressed soil blocks. This was my first attempt at making them (I bought a couple of blockers last year, but after I had started most of my seeds), and I used straight worm compost/bedding out of my vermicompost bin.
Each of these blocks was sown with 5-6 yellow onion seeds with the goal of 4 strong onion plants per block. When they’re ready to go in the ground, I can just plop the blocks in the holes–no fussing with pots or cell-packs. I probably will need a mister bottle to water them–I don’t want the blocks to fall apart before the roots develop enough to hold them solidly together.
Sowing onions in fours works out nicely–each onion has plenty of room to expand and the little groups are easier to hoe around.
Here’s what the soil blockers look like. I used the bigger one for the onions, but I’ll probably use the littler one for germinating peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. That way, I won’t have the gaps or crowding you do when you start them in pots, and any that don’t look great, I can just toss out the door.
The larger blocker also has square pins that fit over the little nubbins (you can see the impressions they make in the photo at top), to make the indentations larger and square, so that a smaller block can be dropped into the larger one.
Nifty, huh? That sure seems like it will take the pain out of transplanting–not to mention reducing the amount of plastic pots, cell-packs, and general headaches involved with storing and sterilizing all that stuff.
I’ll update from time to time about how the soil block experiment is going. So far, I’m pretty tickled by it!