Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Economical/Repurposed Gardening

There have been posts on the blogs I follow lately about repurposing seed containers using from newspaper to tupperware. I am all about reusing normal at home items so that there is less money spent on that and more for flowers and veggies.
I have had a lot of success making soil blocks, which eliminate the need for other containers, so I thought I'd share it here and if anyone else finds it useful, that would be great. No pressure though, because most of the other blog posters have been doing this a lot longer than me and although I haven't seen their gardens first hand, I'm sure they are a lot nicer than mine.

So, being as this is only my opinion and may or may not work out, here goes. I bought a 1 1/2" block maker from Johnny's Seeds. There is a picture below and it makes 4 blocks each time. It also comes with little divot in the top of the block for your seed to be planted. It was appx $30 and should last years and years being as it is all metal and a spring. I will probably oil/protect it when I'm through for the spring. Being as I have already made about 200 blocks and will be making more, I like this. It makes it much easier than trying to do it all by hand. Being the penny pincher that I am though, I have thought it through and could do it without spending any extra money. 

1) the trays for the dirt blocks can be had from home depot when you buy other plants. Just slip them in your cart and they don't mind. 
2) Little starts or trays of starts can be used for making the cubes. There are two pictures below, but not pictured is a tray I got from Fred Meyers. You can get them yourself when you go their founders day sale,  and purchase their flats of 30 annual starts for $12. We bought marigolds and petunias to liven up the front beds and the containers were kept. All you do is fill whatever container you plan to use with a good potting soil (or if your read organic gardening by eliot coleman, there is a chapter with a special mix of soils), compress the soil as best possible and adding a bit of water to helps. Then with sharp jerk, squish out the dirt block. (its like making a sand castle with the plastic buckets. If you do it slowly, you will probably mess it up)
3) push in the seed. 

The dirt cubes must be watered so that they don't dry out, but you can overwater them and the get all wet and fall apart. It isn' that hard to learn what is best, (heck, I even got it right) and once you get the hang of it, once a day works.

If I have only confused you, but you'd like any more info, please let me know. I really like doing my starts this way because then then plants don't ever get too compacted in them and it is a very easy transition to plant the cubes. (just plop in a square hole!)

The block maker is from Johnny's Seeds for about $30.

Fill Containers with Dirt (wet and compress for best results)

Tip over and smack like a sand castle. "It's a soil block!"


  1. I'm intrigued by everyone making soil blocks. I thought about getting a block maker, but when I went to the farmer's exchange to get the trays that come with a plastic dome, it came filled with the little plastic pots. I guess I'll use those for now. I also should make my own soil mix. Do you make your own? If so, what's your recipe?

    1. I use the recipe from Eliot Colemans book "The new organic grower". in this mixture, 1 unit is whatever you want to use to measure. I used a small flower pot, but if you want to mix lots up, you can use something larger. Even with the small flower pot, though, I made up 4 five gallon buckets in the first mixture. This is nice to have because I haven't mixed any since then, I just use it out of the buckets.

      30 units brown peat
      1/8 unit Lime
      20 units coarse sand or perelite
      3/4 unit base fertilizer (I used earth elements but it just needs to be a good organic fertilizer)
      10 units soil
      20 units compost (steer manure works if you don't have any ready compost)