A soil block is a chunk of potting soil that is gently packed together in the shape of a block to help start seeds and transplant seedlings without harm! Soil blocks serve as a natural pot for healthy plant growth without any transplant shock. The root development pauses at the edge, awaits transplantation, and quickly establishes in the bigger soil block or garden soil.
Soil blocks can be purchased or made at home. They typically come in 3 different size, the seeds are usually planted in the mini or micro soil block and transplanted to the micro or max soil blocks depending on seed/seedling variety.
What is Good About Using Soil blocks?
1. Budget-Friendly & Clutter-Free
Besides the initial purchase of a soil block form maker, the cost per block is quite minimal. The continual purchasing of various seedling trays, pots, & cups eventually adds up to large sums of money for pots that will eventually end of in a landfill. On the other hand, the soil blocker is a one-time expense where you may buy a mini, micro, max-sized blocker as per needed. A couple of cafeteria trays come in handy to make a low-cost soil block home!
Conversely, after the seedlings are transplanted, the plastic trays & pots will end up lying in a corner, take up space, making the space look cluttered. If the pots/trays crack, you’ll be purchasing fresh ones at an additional cost.
2. Healthy Root Development
When seeds develop into seedlings in a pot/tray the roots seeking water & nutrition tend to attach to the container. This restricted atmosphere doesn’t occur in soil blocks as the seedling roots stop growing when they touch air, which is known as “air pruning.” This helps the seedlings preserve their strength, not become root-bound, develop healthier roots, and make the seedlings prepared for the next transplantation phase!
3. Reduced Transplant Strain
The biggest advantage of gardening using soil blocks is that baby plants have a massive survival success rate after being transplanted!
During the re-potting phase, the major issue faced when using seedling pots is that seedlings become root-bound and/or root breakage when transplanting the seedlings to their next home. The transplanted seedling will suffer from “transplant shock” when moved into a fresh pot or garden soil. The sensitive roots become stunted for some time and require days, even weeks to heal, adjust to the new pot/soil, and continue growth.
On the other hand, soil blocks do not cause any such trauma to the plant seedling as there is no root breakage. The seedlings, when transplanted to the garden soil, acclimatize sooner to the soil change. Additionally, unlike propagation trays, the transplanted plant needs no healing time and directs all the vigor towards its development without any delay caused by transplant shock.
4. Easier To Begin Various Seeds Indoors
Many gardeners are disappointed from plants being weak, or dying due to transplant shock, or not bearing fruit after spending so much effort & patience, and then tend to stop planting new seed varieties as result of the disappointment. The soil block method and zero transplant strain aids in starting more numbers of versatile seedlings indoors. Hence, after using soil blocks and watching the plant's survival rate along with the quick fruiting process, gardeners are motivated to plant more!
The soil blocking method allows you to start nearly every vegetable, including cucumbers, squash, zucchini, carrots, beets, melons, bell peppers, tomatoes, parsley, eggplant, celery, and many other veggies.
5. Eco-Friendly Convenient Transplantation Process
Soil block usage is an eco-friendly seed germination or seedling plantation method where you curb the use of plastics! The transplantation process is simple. It involves placing the soil block into either a larger soil block or directly into your garden.
There is no need to spend hours in removing the delicate seedlings from pots/trays. Also, you save lots of time, energy, & storage space otherwise spent on cleaning & sterilizing the trays.