How To Make Soil Blocks for Seed Starting

Why, and how, we use a soil blocker to start our seeds

soil blocker
A soil blocker can make quick work of seed starting.


In the beginning there was the seed starter tray, and it was good. But that was then and this is now. About three years ago we started using soil block makers, more commonly called soil blockers. I was reading Eliot Colemans book, Four-Season Harvest, and he mentioned soil blockers. Liking what I read I decided to give them a try so I bought the mini-blocker and the four hole, two-inch soil blocker. And it was good.

Growing your own food is a wonderful thing but if you are starting from seeds, as we do, there’s always a mess of broken seed trays, plastic cups, and battered 8-ounce yogurt containers littering up the potting bench. I had an almost great system of using 6-ounce plastic party cups in which I used a heated nail to poke draining holes but the cups would split when removing the seedlings. This meant a trip back to the dollar store for every year for new cups. I’ve found that using soil blocks is much more cost effective.

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Low Tunnels Survive Eighteen Inches of Snow

After a major snow storm the low tunnels are fully intact…and the spinach is still alive!

snow covered low tunnels
Two feet of snow on the low tunnels


At about 1:00am on December 11 I looked out the window to see a light dusting of snow on the ground. The weather service was calling for a Nor’easter to move up the coast and we would be getting pounded. They predicted it would start in our area at about 7:00pm on the 10th but we saw nothing but hazy skies. When we awoke the next morning, about 6:30am it was clear the weather service wasn’t bluffing.

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DIY Low Tunnels

Easy to make low tunnels

Low tunnels are a great way to extend the garden season by a few weeks to a few months depending on your USDA zone. We’re at zone 5a and at 1434 feet elevation on the side of a hill with excellent southern exposure. This makes our location text book perfect for our garden and what’s more, low tunnels that will be able to take full advantage of the sun we get during winter. Our first low tunnels two years ago just couldn’t stand up to the snow loads we get here so we cobbed together some sturdier versions. Read more