Soil blocks rock.

I finally joined the band wagon and tried out the soil blocks.

Here is a commercial version…


Annie’s Granny was extolling the virtues of starting plants in soil blocks. Her friend John had made her one and sent it to her. (Aren’t gardeners the nicest people?) Plant-a-seed-aholicthat I am, I couldn’t resist.

Last weekend I gave it a shot. I used a pain pill bottle and made my first soil blocks and planted them with spinach.


Nothing to brag about here. After a week, despite the fact that a few of the spinach are sprouting, the soil blocks are breaking apart.

The same night I made these soil blocks, I got an e-mail from Annie’s Granny and she gave me a few links to some info on soil blocks. This is the one I found most helpful:

So, armed with this new information, I got a smaller bottle and used what I had (don’t laugh) and made a smaller soil blocker.


What you’re looking at is a pill bottle with the bottom cut out. The bottom was trimmed to fit inside the bottle and inserted between two nuts and threaded onto a bolt. I didn’t have anything I could use for a plunger, but when I emptied out the barrell of this ink pen, it served the purpose.

I used the soil that I already had to make the blocks with. And coincidentally the blocks fit perfectly into this tray insert that I had.


I planted radish, lettuce, beets. After a week, most things are growing.


Ordinarily I would have planted one seed per block, but I read about triple sowing in a book recently and wanted to try it.

Looks like it’s going to be a good way of growing. Thanks Annie’s Granny (and John).

Happy Gardening!!!!



  1. Liisa_RWC said,

    April 5, 2009 at 12:20 am

    That was a great video. Thanks for sharing!


    • gardengoodies said,

      April 5, 2009 at 12:45 am

      We have to thank Annie’s Granny. She’s the one who told me about it.

  2. April 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    It’s addictive, isn’t it?

    You are something else 😉 You never cease to amaze me….using a pen for a plunger! And do you know what a time I had getting a straight cut from the TOP of my pill bottle, with its rounded “shoulders”? I never thought to cut off that nice, flat bottom and use the other end as the plunger end. And why do your cool weather crops grow better than mine? No matter where I place mine, be it window or under the greenhouse lights, they just grow leggy and limp.

    As to the video, we really have to thank John. I found it on his website.


    • gardengoodies said,

      April 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm

      Truly addictive. I have a whole tray waiting for me right now.

      Thank you, John.

      I guess I’m lucky that everything’s growing fairly well, everything except the kale. It germinated fast, but the leaves are smaller than a dime still.

      Hmmmm. Maybe they’ll grow better in soil blocks :~)

  3. Kate said,

    April 5, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    What a cool idea! I’m sure I could kill off some seedlings this way too! Seems like an eco-friendly thing too – no pots to buy and discard. Nice!

  4. gardengoodies said,

    April 5, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I can tell you how to kill off some seedlings. Plant seeds in the ground weeks before the last frost date in Chicago because it was warm for a couple of days and you were itching to dig in some dirt.

    Okay. Got that out of my system. I just looked outside at more snow. I am sooooo sick of snow and cold.

    I didn’t even think about eco-friendly, I thought cheap. Good point.

  5. April 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    OK, I did that today! I planted lettuce and nasturtiums. The lettuce will be alright, but I have backups for the nasturtiums, ’cause they have about a 10% chance of surviving the next two weeks. I figured what the heck, it was only 10 seeds from a giant pkg. I need to build me a covered wagon…er, hoop house for those cold nights. I am always surprised at how warm the soil is in my raised beds, though.

    • gardengoodies said,

      April 6, 2009 at 12:18 am

      I started off with a what the heck attitude, but now I’m hoping the hoop house…covered wagon…hoop shack works.

      I know I’ve got it bad. Now I feel like I need to grow nasturtiums.

  6. April 6, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Nasturtiums don’t like fertile soil, so yesterday I dug the good stuff out of the corners of the bed and replaced it with some less fertile soil from way across the yard. Unfortunately, that soil looked just about as good. I need to go dig some sand out of the desert, I guess. Husband thinks I’ve gone stark raving mad. You’d think he’d be used to it by now, after watching me garden for 47 years!

  7. gardengoodies said,

    April 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I’m sure my neighbors think I’m nuts too. I’ve got the hoop shack in the back yard and snow on the ground. I’ve got the shelf with all the shop lights in the back window that looks like a science experiment at night. I’m hoping, though, that some of my neighbors will keep looking and get inspired to grow something, even if it’s just a couple tomatoes.

    I know what you mean about the fertile soil. Maybe you can just not fertilize them and they’ll be okay.

  8. suemac said,

    April 7, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I really enjoyed the video. I have been using the reusable styrofoam seed starters from Gardener’s Supply. They have a wicking system that makes watering a no brainer.

    • gardengoodies said,

      April 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

      U-Tube is the greatest.

      I’m probably just a little too cheap for my own good. I like to go on the sites and see what I can copy at home.

      Gardener’s Supply does have a really nice garden planner I saw on somebody else’s web site.


      • April 8, 2009 at 12:09 am

        That planner is fun! Better than the others I’ve tried, but I did have to do my own thing, as my beds are wider then 3′. I like their website, though. I was there for hours 😉

        • gardengoodies said,

          April 8, 2009 at 6:05 pm

          I had the same problem. Maybe we should ask them for more choices.

          • gardengoodies said,

            April 8, 2009 at 6:17 pm

            I just took a minute to leave them an e-mail asking to be able to choose your bed width. I’m probably the customer they hate, though. I’m a little cheap and I like to re-engineer (a/k/a copy) as much as I can. We’ll see what happens.

            • April 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

              I’ve already copied the graph and added a row, and I’ve copied all the veggies (pictures) and the plant encyclopedia. I need to make my own picture guides for some of the herbs/veggies they don’t have in their program. But everything works fine to copy and paste into MS Paint!

              I’m a lot cheap. 😉

              • gardengoodies said,

                April 8, 2009 at 10:50 pm

                Good to know about the MS Paint. I still haven’t decided what I want where yet. I usually put all of one thing together (peppers next to peppers, tomatoes next to tomatoes), but I think I’m going to mix them up a little. It’s going to look uneven, but interplanting is supposed to be good for the plants.

                • April 9, 2009 at 12:35 am

                  It’s supposed to fool the bugs, too…but it just goes against my sense of neatness in the garden! I just have to have mine all together in blocks or wide rows. I did mix up my herb garden last year, and included a lot of marigolds, a potted sweet potato, green onions from the store, basil, chives, parsley, carrots, garlic and a bell pepper. It was very pretty and everything thrived…..and nothing was planted in rows.

  9. Jason said,

    November 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Fantastic work Bloggers! Yes, the revolution is fast upon us to replace our oil intensive plastic with heirloom sustainable gardening tools like the soil blocker. The absolute leader in this movement is at, of course! There, you WILL find EVERTHING Soil Blocks created by Masters who use these soil blocks DAILY to create food and wealth.

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