Get a Head Start on the Growing Season with Soil Blocks

Don’t look now (and I would hate to jinx it), but it seems that winter is loosing its grasp over central Minnesota. The ravages of winter snow storms and below zero temperatures are being replaced with sun showers and melting snow.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just start planting into the (frozen) ground. Your little seedlings wouldn’t stand much of a chance and you’d break your tools digging a hole.

What we do around here is create our very own soil blocks to help the little seeds get a head start to the growing season. With a giant atrium in the Mani Shop, we’ve got a good place to let them stretch their baby root legs.

Dave W. (our Food Production Coordinator) likes to use the following formula to build our soil blocks for the little seedlings.

  • 4 Parts Peat Moss
  • 2 Parts Compost/Soil
  • 1 cup Perlite/Vermiculite (helps prevent soil compaction)
  • .5 cup Pel Lime (helps balance pH of soil)
  • .25 cup Green Sand/Azomite Clay (adds micronutrients)
  • .25 cup Humate
  • .25 cup Kelp

This recipe is good for 4-5 trays that can hold 50 or so 2in blocks. All in all, you can make about 300 blocks, which is a good place to start if you’re just getting into it.

It’s a fun process, but can be a little dusty, dirty, and muddy. There’s a lot of mixing by hand and sifting of small sticks and other larger bits so it can be best used for the block mixture.

CompostSoilGif

Here, Dave sifts the detritus from our homemade compost to get nothing but nutrient rich soil.

Once you’ve got the mixture down, add a little water and to make it nice and sticky (this is so it will hold its blocky shape. We have several types of soil blockers, but for the majority of our uses, we prefer the 2 inch model.

SeedStarting1reduced

These soil blockers are good for 2in cubed cubes. They’re good enough size for most starting seedlings.

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Back to Basics 2020 – A Review in Pictures

On Saturday, February 15, we held our 14th annual Back to Basics sustainability event at the Pine River-Backus School. There were a record number of participants and a wide variety of new and repeating vendors & presenters.

We were able to have a roving photographer (Thanks Marisa!) take some awesome shots of the event, and we would like to share some of them with you.

Workshops

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