to reduce plastic in the garden one of our favourite practices is to use a tiny press called a soil-blocker* to make cubes of soil to sow seeds and raise seedlings in. we make up a very wet mixture of potting soil with the consistency of cake batter, which always makes me crave chocolate cake. it makes a nice little spot for a seed to germinate in and a rich little house for a seedling to get growing. we just cover the seed with fine soil. these blocks can also insert into a larger block where we grow the plant on for a while before they go out in the veg garden, ideal for a larger plant like a tomato or squash.
the idea with them is that the roots get going and when they reach the air they ‘air prune’ — get to the edge and stop. it means we aren’t needing to squeeze plants out of a container and we find they don’t suffer the transplant shock of that experience, and get growing in their new homes much faster.
we like to have a good line-up of starts ready to pop in when something is harvested and this way we can keep an eye on our plants in the nursery or in the coldframe (watch the long-form film!) instead of always sowing direct, which does get away from us sometimes. with the seedlings in free-standing blocks, there’s no waste being generated as we go. it’s a small thing but it adds up quickly.
i’ve just been to our local seedy saturday, such a joyful event, and i have what i need to get some of the earliest seeds started. just now we are being snowed under again, but i can chit the potatoes and get ready.
*eliot coleman was inspired by european growers to develop this system. i remember reading about it in one of his books. we’re very fond of its simplicity.
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