I have taken up blocking as a way of starting my seeds. It is basically mud pies for grown-ups – I love it.
Essentially you mix up compost and water and then plunge the blocking tool into the mix before pushing the lever down and ejecting 4 neat squares of compost. Each square has a little dip in it and you pop the seed on that. And then it grows – hopefully.
The idea is that the roots don’t get entangled and then ripped when you prick out the seedlings as happens if you seed in a big seed tray. The roots also reach the air and then grow back in (or something) rather than grow round and round as they do in a pot – so the plants don’t get root bound. Apparently seeds started this way grow stronger, healthier plants which means more veggies. I will keep you updated as to how well they do.
I bought one that does 4 x 5cm blocks and one that does 20 tiny blocks. I got them from here. Once the seedling starts to grow you can then slot this little block into one of the bigger ones.
I started off some broad beans (Leidse Hangdown – I think), early (Oskar) peas and some unknown mangetout in the polytunnel.
Inside I started some lavender and sunflower seeds, some more onions (Sturon), some tomatoes (Pink Wonder and Amish Paste) and some cucumber (Early Fortune) in the blocks – as well as some seeds I had saved in standard seed trays: red pepper (lipstick), tomatillo, aubergine (moneymaker), tomato (constantino plum), and cucumber (unknown).
I don’t think I saved my tomato and aubergine seeds the correct way as I didn’t leave them to ferment in water for three days, as I didn’t know about that then. We will see what happens. This year hopefully I will do a better job as I have been reading bits and pieces – not too much though as I don’t want my head to explode with all the information!
N.B. Why yes, I do have two rather lovely new heat trays for propagation, but in my defence I do need them as the cats are always trying to muscle in on the heat!
N.B. Any idea what’s in the package? Find out tomorrow ….. it’s very … umm … interesting shall we say ……