Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dirty Hands

The season is upon us for scrambling around, starting seeds, raking mulch and pulling back the dreary curtain of winter. I can't help but feel totally elated by the season of spring, and totally overwhelmed. Regardless of how much planning I put onto paper during the winter months, nothing can ever prepare me for the explosion of tasks that occurs each year.

Two weeks ago I managed to start several seeds for leeks, broccoli, onions and some cold-loving lettuce. I tend to start seeds earlier than I should and I lose so many seedlings each year it's ridiculous. What I don't lose tends to be stringy and unhealthy, so this year I decided to make myself wait until I was certain that I'd be able to transplant them into the garden before they unhappily rootbound or overgrown.

This is my first year using my soil blocker rather than plastic trays and cells. It's really quite beautiful to see my seeds starting in all natural context surrounded by wood and soil rather than plastics. It is more difficult to keep the soil blocks moist, but with some careful misting on a daily basis the seedlings have stayed happy and healthy thus far. I'm still waiting for the onions and the lettuce seeds to sprout, but the leeks and the broccoli varieties are all up. I was very happily surprised that one of the broccoli varieties sprouted at all, as I've had the seeds for at least six years!
Next week I will be starting the second phase of seeds, as well as some cool season crops out in the cold frames that i assembled last week (which will be blogged about in the next few days!) Most of my seeds will be started outside this year since I'm realizing more and more that whenever I direct seed, the plants end up as vigorous, if not more, than their pre-started counterparts.


  1. I've been considering using soil blocks next year. Would you recommend them? Did you use a pre-mixed soil or did you make your own?

  2. @Potted Farm I think I would recommend them as long as you understand you have to use a mix with high peat content. Unfortunately peat is not really a renewable resource, so I'm going to try to recycle mine. I think coconut hulls are the new peat, but we can't find them locally here and since we live in Michigan (and peat is called "Michigan Peat") we have it readily around us.
    I used a premixed soil but anything with a high peat content will work. I saturated it completely with water, let it soak, then squeezed it out and packed the blocker with it. It was a lot of fun! Just remember to water by misting or from the bottom or you'll end up destroying the blocks.

  3. Those trays of soil blocks look like brownies!