It's hard to believe with all this extended chilly weather but spring is around the corner, somewhere. Within the warm and sunny greenhouse, safe from the relentless cold and snow, we begin our seedlings for this year's growing season.
We'll be starting seedlings in soil blocks, a method of seed starting that requires no plastic pots but rather presses the soil into block shapes into which we then sow our seeds. That is a major reduction in the use of plastic!! Another benefit to this method is that the roots of the seedling only grow to edge of the block where the air signals them to stop growing, rather than become root bound as can occur with plastic pots. Instead, the roots are positioned and ready to rapidly grow outward once potted up into a larger block, or the soil outside.
A soil blocker is a bit of an investment, but one that will last a lifetime of seed starting.
Soil blocks require a special soil mix to ensure that the blocks form together and stay that way. There are several soil block recipes available online, some complex, some simple. Here is our recipe from Eliot Coleman's “The New Organic Grower” that we modified slightly to our liking:
-3 parts coir (this is coconut husk, a by-product of the coconut industry. It replaces the use of peat moss, a non-sustainable material destructively extracted from bogs and swamps)
-2 parts sheep manure
-2 parts perlite (amorphous volcanic glass that “pops” into a light and absorbent material when heated)
-2 parts black earth
-3/4 parts fertilizer (even amounts of kelp, blood meal and worm castings)
We mix all this together and add enough water that when you squeeze the soil the water drips out. Then with the soil blocker we press and form little blocks for our plants to begin their life in.
SEEDING, SEEDING, AND MORE SEEDING
So far we've seeded celery, cabbage, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, tomato, tomatillo, eggplant and peppers! Many, many more seeds to sow!
AHEAD OF THE GAME
The leeks are growing rapidly! These little ones take a long time to grow and were started a few weeks back under grow lights at our homes. They'll be hitting the dirt sometime in late April as soon as the soil can be worked.
SEEDY SUNDAYS !
Come check us out at the Seedy Sunday event this Sunday March 30th from 12 noon - 4p at the Lawrence Heights Community Centre in North York. Someone from the PACT Grow to Learn team will be there ready to answer all your questions about our program, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. Hope to see you there! For more details, check the link: http://www.tcgn.ca