These days if you stop by the farm you’re likely to find me elbow deep in a huge pile of soil and covered from head to toe in the stuff. I try to not cake myself in it–but its really hard!
I love this time of year, everything is so far going just as planned and its nice and toasty in the greenhouse. I often listen to audiobooks while I do this work…
I have never made so many soil blocks! Compared to last year, I feel like we hardly made any at all. I believe this process produces healthier root systems and therefore healthier plants! Plus, I am trying to get away from all that plastic. I’d be nice to be away from it completely, but I realize there are some necessary evils (plastic on hoop house and greenhouse for instance!) but we do what we can.
The first step is to sift all of the compost. Last year I didn’t do this. Bad idea. The compost I had was not sifted by the company correctly, so there were twigs and big chunks that would essentially not be well mixed into the larger mix. Even mixture is really important to make sure to distribute all of the components and nutrients–and of course hold it together sufficiently.
I have been using a version of Eliot Coleman’s blocking recipe that I adjusted a little:
3 buckets peat
1/2 cup lime (helps tone down acidity of peat)
1 buckets perlite (I have been using vermiculite– volcanic rock– mostly but I used perlite in this one)
3 cups fertilizer mix (blood meal, colloidal phosphate and greensand mixed)
2 buckets compost (sifted)
1 bucket soil (sifted)
I mix it together and add A LOT of water. Then I spend several hours stamping the mold into the soil and popping out little soil blocks onto trays (you can see why I get covered in soil!)
The end result is worth all the effort. They are almost too beautiful to put outside to face the harsh weather and pests. After next week I might not feel that way (I have another 1,000 blocks for lettuces, parsley, kale to do tomorrow)!