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Post  sfg4uKim on 2/8/2013, 4:51 pm

I was sent a soil cube maker to try and review for my garden blog. I NEVER got the hang of it - the top of the cube was ALWAYS stuck in the gadget.

Today I had an idea . . . and it worked! Shocked

Soil "Cubes" Img_7911

On the right is the soil cube gadget and on the left is a plunger measuring cup (easy to get things like peanut butter or crisco out). Just Google "plunger measuring cup".

I pushed the "plunger" down to the 3/4 cup mark and filled with fairly wet Mel's Mix. I then put it upside down and pushed out some of the water then gently pushed the cylinder out. It still needs to be pretty wet and this will take a bit of trial and error but it released my soil cylinder BEAUTIFULLY. Of course it takes up more room in a tray than the square, but hey!

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Post  CapeCoddess on 2/8/2013, 5:11 pm

Oh wow. ..this is good, Kim. Bet they cost a lot less than the cube makers. I'll be on the look out for a measuring plunger. Hopefully our town Swap Shop at the dump will have one just for me. Laughing

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Post  sfg4uKim on 2/8/2013, 5:16 pm

Yeah. $25 + S&H vs. about $6.

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Post  littlejo on 2/8/2013, 5:52 pm

I got my soil block maker from Johnnys and I really like it, makes 4 blocks at a time, made of metal, and it comes out right every time.
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Post  quiltbea on 2/8/2013, 7:17 pm

littlejo....
+1

Me, too, and the 4-block maker costs little more than that mentioned above.

The soil mix needs to be wet enough to feel like thick wet oatmeal. I've got a video here somewhere on how it should look, maybe under 'Seed Starting' if I recall correctly.
edited to add: Yup, found it on Pg 4. You'll be able to see the consistency that works.
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Post  sfg4uKim on 2/8/2013, 7:33 pm

Oh, mine came with instructions, a "recipe" and the guy told me about the consistency. This one just didn't work for me.

I was hoping to help anyone who just didn't feel like ordering another gadget.

LOL I'm SOOOOOO glad that I didn't have to pay for it or I would have been pretty mad. Very Happy

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Post  JackieB999 on 2/8/2013, 8:47 pm

Interesting.... what are soil cubes used for? To plant in, I assume, but you dont want to use a pot?
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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/8/2013, 8:52 pm

@sfg4uKim wrote:Oh, mine came with instructions, a "recipe" and the guy told me about the consistency. This one just didn't work for me.

I was hoping to help anyone who just didn't feel like ordering another gadget.

LOL I'm SOOOOOO glad that I didn't have to pay for it or I would have been pretty mad. Very Happy

Pretty creative and genius idea Kim! improvise Soil "Cubes" 3170584802

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Post  sfg4uKim on 2/8/2013, 9:01 pm

@JackieB999 wrote:Interesting.... what are soil cubes used for? To plant in, I assume, but you dont want to use a pot?

Exactly. No plastic, no expensive peat pots, etc. Less root shock when transplanted.

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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/8/2013, 9:40 pm


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Post  littlejo on 2/8/2013, 9:50 pm

When a soil cube is used, no pot to store, or peat pellets to buy, but most of all, these are air pruning, no tangled roots going round the bottom of the pot, roots do better when they are planted in the mm.
My tomato plants that I started in them this yr. look much better than they did last yr. And no transplant shock.
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Post  Goosegirl on 2/9/2013, 8:07 am

Love the measuring cup idea - it's giving me more ideas..... thinking

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Post  Lavender Debs on 2/9/2013, 9:37 am

I did not even know this product existed. I’m still using water displacement to measure peanut butter. I LOVE my soil blocker but mine came from Johnny's, It looks different than the block maker Kim has. It has ALWAYS been easy to use. (in my seldom humble opinion)

What I love about Kim's idea is the larger, deeper size that I think may be possible for larger seed and tap roots on sprouts like Fava beans or sweet peas. Thanks Kim! I saw your facebook post but had not had time to really look at it yet.

Making a tray full of cubes is like kneading bread, there is a rhythm to it. It goes fast. I LOVE Bea's series but I'm putting my video from season 3 up. It is too long so you will want to use your mouse to skip through the dull parts. At the start of the video there is a side by side pic of kale started in a soil cube and the same seed started in sterol starting mix in a peat pot. The difference is dramatic. There is also a bit on getting pea inoculant into the divot of the cubes. SPOILER: Watch Bea's videos for a real education about the product, mine is too homespun to really learn anything.

Kudos to Kim and Bea! (and thanks Rooster for finding the links to Bea's)
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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/9/2013, 10:27 am

Debs, your videos are always great and very informative too!

I love creative ideas. Kim got a product that just didn't perform up to expectations, and had the genius idea to try something out of the cupboard. Who da thunk it? It may not be the most cost effective solution but how many folks have these in their cupboards that may possibly never get used.

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Post  llama momma on 2/9/2013, 10:43 am

Debs and/or Bea, or Anyone

Thanks so much for all your info. Question: do you find in your experience that one heat is mat enough to get everything going? Or do you wish you had 2 of them. I've got the supplies ready to go but only one heat mat.
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Post  Lavender Debs on 2/9/2013, 11:01 am

@llama momma wrote:...snip.... Question: do you find in your experience that one heat is mat enough to get everything going? Or do you wish you had 2 of them. I've got the supplies ready to go but only one heat mat.
No experience here. My heat mat is new this year. I got it to "save money" by growing my own onion plants. (save money....haha!) I've been determined to stay low tech, no lights, no heat mat BUT after dropping $40 dollars on one heat mat because the only one I could find unless I went to Amazon, was a ricky-ticky "greenhouse" with a heat mat. (I'm told the mat alone goes for $25 + S&H at Amazon). It is still winter in the PNW even if we have seductive spring-like days now and then. HOWEVER, just yesterday I caught myself thinking, "I wish I had one more heat-mat. Sooooo
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Post  llama momma on 2/9/2013, 11:11 am

Thanks LD! Just found a 6 ft. rope light I had on hand and could probably make that into a heat mat for one tray, if needed. Someone shared a video of a fellow using 18 ft rope lights for two trays. Hmm, guess I'd be taking a chance it is a little short and a little less heat..


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Post  Turan on 2/9/2013, 11:31 am

In a pinch a tomato paste can also makes a good soil blocker. Just cut out both ends and use one as the follower.

Last year I improvised a big block maker to put the 2" blocks into. When I dropped the smaller block into the space for it all looked well but the plants did not take off like I expected (this was okra which hates transplanting). When I went to plant in the garden I discovered that the roots never made it into the bigger block. Some how there was not a good fusion even though they physically touched. Now I am wondering if there is a trick when dropping the starts into the cubic divot? Maybe scoring the bottom? Has anyone had such troubles with the 3/4" cubes going into the 2" blocks?

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Post  quiltbea on 2/9/2013, 12:30 pm

Turan.....when I drop my 3/4" blocks into the 2 inchers, I push the block down gently to be sure its bottom is touching, and push a bit of soil over the cracks around the top to fill in any empty spaces then water from the top. I don't want any air pockets to stop root movement. Other waterings are done from the bottom in the tray.
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Post  Turan on 2/9/2013, 12:40 pm

thanks

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Post  littlejo on 2/9/2013, 1:43 pm

I don't have a heat mat, 'yet' You'all make me think I need 1 or 2. So far the only things that are not germinating are eggplant, and I guess they require more heat than I have at the moment.
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Post  quiltbea on 2/9/2013, 2:16 pm

littlejo....Eggplant likes 85*F to germinate so boost your heat.
It also likes nites in the 60s when you transplant them outdoors.

I only have one heat mat. I find that's enough for me. I start seeds depending on when they need to go outdoors so I start with leeks, corn mache, spinach, pansies.
When they germinate, they are immediately put under the lights. That leaves room on the mat for more like Brussels sprouts, and the greens; bekana, mizuna, Arugula.
Followed by the cole crops; cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.
I don't start all my seeds at the same time.
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When the little soil blocks, now under the lights, produce their first true leaves I up-pot them to larger pots.
My tomatoes and peppers don't get started until weeks later since they are warm-weather crops and won't be transplanted til after the last frost.

Yup, I find that one heat mat works its magic for me.
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Post  llama momma on 2/9/2013, 2:33 pm

Thank you re: heat mat answer. I was over thinking things probably.
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Post  TN_GARDENER on 2/10/2013, 9:31 am

@littlejo wrote:I don't have a heat mat, 'yet' You'all make me think I need 1 or 2. So far the only things that are not germinating are eggplant, and I guess they require more heat than I have at the moment.
Jo

Use a set of Christmas string lights or lamp bulb socket. Put the light under a cake pan and set your seed cups on the pan.

Another warm place to think about is on your computer or DVR.

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