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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seed starting 2011

It has been almost 6+ weeks since we started the seeds for this 2011 growing season.

We decided to try something new yet AGAIN and we have had to overcome big hurdles.

In our first year we started everything in rectangular window sill planters and then spent a few back breaking weekends separating the seedlings and transplanting them.

The second year (2010) we used 4 oz waxed water cups that we bought in bulk from Costco. Though it was convenient to plant in, packing them together, watering and then removing the seedling out and transplanting was messy. Add to this paper cup remnants flying all over our yard.

This time around we decided to go with a much more environmentally conscious alternative of using soil blocks.It appears that this method of seed starting has been in use in Europe for a long time but is only now catching on in the US. Main advantages other than the "green" method is the natural air pruning of the roots so that the seedlings are not root bound in a starter cup. This virtually eliminates any transplant shock.

We had some challenges getting these block making tools to begin with. claims to have these in stock at all times, however mathematically was a pricier option (including the shipping cost). We wanted to get all the sizes, the 3/4 inch, the 2 inch and the 4 inch blockers (not heeding the advice on blogs that the 2 inch blocker alone is sufficient for most people)

We stuck to our usual choice because they were cheaper. They were on back order until March 18, but we were anyway busy going skiing every weekend and would not have been able to do much earlier. 


The 3/4 inch one was intended for the small seeds i.e. the peppers, tomatoes and the Eggplants. (But it is a lot of work to move them to the 2 in blocks). I would skip planting anything in the 3/4 inch blocks from now on.

We picked up these cement mixing tubs from HD and they seemed pretty convenient to mix the slurry.

This was the first time setting up a grow light system. The shelving is from Costco, the heating mat (on only one shelf) is from PVFS. The lights are from HD.

The 2 inch blocks have held up fairly well. It is a completely different story with the 3/4 inch blocks.

The seed success rates were pretty bad in some cases, not sure if it was seed quality, the soil blocks, lack of heat or a combination of everything.

Most of the new seedlings are now in the planter beds, with the Tomatoes and Peppers (the very few that even emerged) waiting to go in shortly.

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