Anyone used a soil blocker/cuber?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Browsercat, Jan 8, 2004.

  1. Browsercat

    Browsercat Well-Known Member

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    I've seen sites that recommend them, and the only thing that makes me think twice is the cost (two plus some needed add-ons would run ~$50).

    Have you used one? Have you made a substitute (not paper newspaper pots or reused other things)? How'd it work?
     
  2. Sedition

    Sedition Well-Known Member

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    May 30, 2003
    Every year.

    I only have one size (2”), and I don’t know what kind of an add-on a soil blocker has… But mine was only $20, a few years ago of course. Still, if you start in plastic cells, buying a blocker and moving up to heavy duty and reusable 3” pots later saves you a lot of money over time. When I first started, I used plastic cells, and they kept getting crushed when I take the plants out.

    The thing with soil blockers, is that your soil needs to be “just right”. I usually buy inexpensive potting soil and cut it with 25% compost and 25% garden soil. I dig the garden soil in the fall, just fill up a big plastic tub and toss it in the shed, grounds frozen when I do my starts. The compost and dirt gives it some stickiness so that the blocks stay together better. Straight potting soil falls apart too fast, in my experience at least. But most my starts wait six weeks or so before hitting the garden, and that’s a lot of water.

    Also, most of my starts end up being transplanted anyway – so I wish I had a smaller blocker instead of this bigger one. But 2” is the right size for things like herbs, flowers, early cole-crops, Salsify, etx. Just not solancea – which always ends up being half my transplants…
     

  3. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I use them. You can get a very complete recipe for the soil mix and directions for and information about the soil blocker in Eliot Coleman's "New Organic Gardener." I use the 2" for my tomato starts, then I pop the blocks into square peat pots once the tomatoes are about 4" tall, and then I continue to fill the peat pot up as the tomato grows, which makes for a stocky plant with an exceptional root system.
     
  4. Manny

    Manny Well-Known Member

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    I have used this system for over ten years and have had great success with it, but I didn't like the cost of the commercial blockers soooo------I made my own. I went to the home supply and got a sheet of Lucite and made different sized boxes with plungers. Granted it only makes one cube at a time but I can crank out all I need in just a few minutes----I'm not running a commercial operation. For the mix I buy commercial potting mix and sieve it thru 3/8" hardware cloth---it makes blocks that will keep their shape well enough until the plant roots bind everything together. I place the blocks in the shallow meat trays from the grocery store and water from the bottom. I't's easy to transplant from one block to a larger one, just like planting into a pot.
    If you need any more detailed information let me know-----Bill
     
  5. cmpman1974

    cmpman1974 New Member

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    Manny,

    I am reading postings on this forum and wondered if you could provide me more details on how you make your own soil blockers. I would love to do this and do not want to shell out $95 for the 4" Ladbrooke soil blocker. Can you explain this to me? Please e-mail me at cmpman1974@comcast.net. Thanks so much.
     
  6. Manny

    Manny Well-Known Member

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    I made a slightly tapered box out of lucite with one open end, the taper was towards the closed end so that the soil block could be more easily pushed out of the box. In the closed end of the box I drilled a hole that would provide for the handle of the plunger that I fashioned out of a piece of lucite cut to match the size of the box at the closed end and attached to a wood dowel that was the handle. The parts of the box were glued with household cement and have held together for many seasons. I have made sizes of boxes all the way from 1" up to about 4". The speed of making the blocks is not great but I can still crank out several dozen an hour. I turn the box upside down, fill it by hand and slightly compress the mix before extracting them. When "potting up" I partially fill the box with mix and then set in the transplant, finish filling around the smaller block and slightly compress it before extracting in an upward motion of the plunger. If you need any more info feel free to ask, I'm here every day.