Goodbye plastic, hello healthy seedlings

With spring pressing, sowing frenzy take hold of us. Whether you are a horticultural professional or a passionate amateur, we are here in tension to prepare the garden to come: it is the bet for a future of exuberant and luxuriant growth.

Vases, honeycomb trays and containers of all kinds they are filled with the best soil to hold promises of healthy and nutritious vegetables. Every year, we find ourselves rummaging through this mountain of plastic, looking for the container that survived the previous season to reuse. Our seedlings are piling up plastic batteries, polystyrene, polyethylene from year to year.

But there is an ecological and economical alternative : floor blocker . After more than 40 years since the invention of this system, brilliant in its simplicity, we finally find it available in Italy, thanks to the new and very interesting reality of Officina Walden. Therefore, it is worth explaining how to use soil blocks for planting.

Contents [Ocultar]

  • The invention of Soil Blocker cubes

  • How does the floor lock system work?

  • Advantages of planting in buckets

  • How to make dirt blocks

  • What substrate to use for floor blocks

    • A recipe for the self-production of a suitable substrate

  • Where to buy the floor blocker: Walden Workshop


The invention of Soil Blocker cubes

He was the American horticulturist Eliot Coleman , author of $0027The New Organic Grower$0027, one of the most important books in the field of professional small gardening. In collaboration with an English craftsman, he had the idea of ​​changing the cubic plant system already adopted in the professional nursery and in large-scale agriculture, adapting it to the needs of the small professional and the amateur, eliminating at a stroke the costs and accumulations of plastic packaging and the problems related to the development and transplantation of seedlings.

This is how the Soilblocker cutting machines were born even today without any change in its original design because… simply perfect.

How the Floor Block System Works

Ground blocking cubes, as their name suggests, create cubes of pressed substrate that they are at the same time container Yes culture centre for seedlings. The earth is in a hurry a casting instead of being compressed in a container. In this way, the walls of the cube, separated exclusively from the air, avoid the problem of root entanglement.

Although they are for all intents and purposes a bucket of soil The earth blocks are not fragile at all. As soon as the humidity and the fibers of the support give a solid structure to the cubes, then the roots of the adventitious plants will colonize the substrate, increasing their influence.

modularity of the system allows you to create cubes of all sizes, and to insert simple niches at the time of molding to accommodate seeds, deeper holes for cuttings, or square holes to pack smaller cubes into larger cubes, maximizing germination space for an efficient seedbed.

Advantages of Docup sowing

The first advantage brought by the cube machine is ecological : save plastic, containers, trays, honeycombs and jars. This also has an economic side effect : Once you have purchased the cube machine, a practically eternal tool, you will no longer have to invest in containers.

However, the advantages in terms of plant development are very important: if we consider the root system of a plant as its “nervous system”, the advantages of growth without “limits” are obvious.

  • Root system ventilation . The absence of plastic walls means better oxygenation of the root system, which facilitates its development.
  • Avoid transplant shock . In the traditional pot, when the roots reach the walls, they become entangled in a tangle, with the cubes produced by the soil blocking system, this does not occur. The result is that after transplantation, the vegetative recovery is much faster: the roots are already in the ideal position for harmonious development and take root immediately in the ground. It’s not for nothing that potted plants are a standard in professional nursery production.

Finally, concretely, the modularity of the system makes it very easy to replant the plants. , optimizing the space in the seedbed.In fact, small cubes can be used to germinate the seeds, later, with the growth of the seedlings, it will be easy to nest these cubes into larger blocks. The mold for the larger blocks may have already prepared the perfect niche to accommodate the first cubes, so transferring the seedling to more substrate is effortless and painless.

How to make dirt blocks

The system basically consists of a mold capable of forming substrate cubes . There are professional versions of these molds capable of producing 10,000 cubes per hour, but for an amateur horticulturist or a small professional horticulturist, it is sufficient to small manual presses which can be purchased with a low investment and very flexible, suitable for programming “at scale” of crops.

SOILBLOCKER cubes are available in different sizes : from the MICRO20 capable of producing 20 cubes of approximately 1.5cm to anticipate delicate crops (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) in a reduced space, to autonomous cutters capable of producing from 12 to 30 pressure cubes of different sizes up to at 6x6x7cm.

The choice of size of the cube is determined by two main factors: the type of seed and the weather what will happen in the cube until the transplant . In spring, when the timing is still uncertain and the risk of delaying transplants is still high, a larger bucket will be preferred to allow enough room for seedlings to develop, while smaller buckets may be adopted in mid -season.

If, on the other hand, the season must be anticipated a lot, it will be necessary to plan a shredding, starting with a microphone will be the ideal choice to optimize the space. If you are unsure, the advice is prefer medium/large cubes i n so as not to have to intervene in fertigation during the development period, which would be necessary with a sowing in honeycomb where the substrate is usually 1/3 of that present in the cups.

Each cube machine has different inserts to mark niches which will receive the seeds. Soilblocker models have a standard insert which is excellent for small plantings such as salads, cabbages, onions… Alternatively longer inserts can be fitted to propagate cuttings or cube inserts which can mark the niche to accommodate micro20 cubes to prick or sow as big as pumpkins. and zucchini.

What substrate to use for floor blocks

The root ball substrate differs slightly from the classic substrate used in hives or, more generally, in containers.

The compost for buckets actually requires a lots of fiber , to prevent runoff during irrigation and ensure shape retention. On the other hand, even a simple cultivation soil is not suitable because, once pressed, it would become impenetrable from the roots of the plants.

Ideally, the substrate should also have high water retention capacity because, not being surrounded by impermeable walls, evapotranspiration is greater.

The simplest substrate base should be peat or coconut fiber, sand, soil and sieved compost .

A recipe for the self-production of a suitable substrate

If you cannot find a commercial organic substrate with the right characteristics, you can try the next recipe modifying it according to your experience:

  • 3 buckets of peat;

  • ½ cup lime (to correct the pH of acid peat);

  • 2 buckets of sand or perlite;

  • 1 bucket of garden soil;

  • 2 buckets of sieved mature potting soil.

Regarding the micro20, the recipe may change slightly because the seeds germinate better in a somewhat “poor” substrate.

The trick to getting good cubes is the moisture content of the dough . Usually in hives or containers the substrate is only moist and then moistened. In the case of the substrate for cubes, the consistency must be that of thick chocolate or pudding . When you squeeze the earth, you should see water flowing through your fingers. In this way, the substrate will be able to adequately fill the bucket and obtain the best result… Good seed!

Where to buy a floor blocker: Officina Walden

In the United States and several European countries, Soil Blocker buckets are very popular and have been on sale for years. In Italy they have recently arrived thanks to Walden office a young and very interesting reality that offers many innovative and sustainable ideas to improve small-scale agriculture.

I invite you to visit the Officina Walden website, first of all to get the must-have cube machines freeing us from the use of the cursed plastic cavities, and then to continue browse the different teams … Especially for those who have a small professional activity, it can be really useful.

This post not the usual “marchetta” of payment, I have chosen to speak of Officina Walden without sponsorship, because I believe that it is a reality that must be known and supported. The person who put Officina Walden, Nicholas Savio before importing the tools he offers on the Italian market, he personally tested them in the field on his farm.

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