Soil-Blocking Experiments

Enjoying what the almanac and my childhood memory confirms as typical late December Missouri weather (here we all laugh at the use of the word ‘typical’ applied to weather) with the last few days generally sunny in the low 40s, we are starting to try out new soil-blocking recipes with the small 20-square blocker with the goal of germinating snapdragons and larkspur in 3/4" blocks and sweetpea in 2” blocks. With a small cold frame to simulate a potential passive solar greenhouse and an agribon-covered bed to take the place of our full-length field rows, we’re curious about when we really should be starting seeds for early-season harvest.

The mix is a modified Eliot Coleman recipe substituting an organic 5-5-5 fertilizer in place of chicken manure (which is higher in nitrogen and also more pungent in our basement) and the addition of mycorrhizae from Paul Stamets for nutrient uptake and disease resistance. The soil blockers are from Johnny’s seeds.

Germination should be in 12-14 days, so with 200 blocks on a tray we will hopefully have some small flowers sprouting in January.