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Lots Happening; Nothing Being Said About It!

May 10, 2011

Ought to be punishable by …. at least something, huh!?

On April 19th, we were blessed with a group of students from UB’s  Nutrition and Environment Class which came and helped us clean out some of last year’s growth in the hoophouse.  They also helped me plant some basil and tomato seeds in little ¾” blocks.

Consequently, I thought I might share a bit on how we start our plants in the house.  We learned of a seed-starting method from Eliot Coleman ( which greatly reduces transplant shock and produces terrific, strong, healthy seedlings that we tried for the first time last year.  We had amazing pepper and tomato transplants last year!  The method involves making soil blocks by compressing a moistened soil mixture with soil block forms, or blockers.  The blocks are made in three different sizes, ¾” blocks, 2″ blocks, and 4″ blocks.  Last year, we created our own soil mix to use with the blockers which worked well, but was a little tricky to get consistently just right, balancing the peat, compost, minerals and water.  This year, we bought soil from Vermont Compost Company ( ) specifically formulated to work with the soil blockers.

We start out with  ¾” blocks.  The seeds are dropped on top of the block, ideally in the little indentation created for the seed.  We have a spray bottle that waters the blocks without washing the soil or seed away.

After the seed germinates, but before there are any true leaves (the first two leaves that show up aren’t true leaves), the block is ready to be dropped inside a 2″ block formed with a special ¾” hole in the center.  The young plant will spend a couple weeks in this size block until it needs to be transplanted into a 4″ block, or hardened off and planted outside in its permanent home.

Using this method works well for most of our plants.  A view of our plant table upstairs under the lights shows a portion of the plants we have started so far.  We have discovered that covering the little ¾” blocks until the seeds have begun growing improves germination, especially for peppers.  There are some seeds I don’t have good success using this method with – parsley is one.  I start parsley in jiffy pots.  I start large seeds, such as squash and cucumbers,  in 3″ peat pots.

Hurray for the sunshine!


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenda permalink
    May 11, 2011 6:08 am

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing how to properly start seedlings. Love to hear what is happening on Wilson Street!

    • wilsonstreeturbanfarm permalink
      May 11, 2011 12:06 pm

      Thanks for reading the blog. I don’t know that there is a “proper” or “improper” way to start seedlings. This just works well for us. Are you folks putting in a garden this year?

  2. Leslie Porto permalink
    May 20, 2011 2:05 pm

    Hi Janice,
    Thanks for the seedling article. It’s always nice to hear about your progress and I’m looking forward to the first friuts of labor. I just recruited another interested family to come by the farm and check it out.
    Next you’ll be writing about how you’re collecting all this rain water for future irragation. There has to be a good way to retain it all.
    Blessings to you all for a productive year!
    Leslie Porto

  3. wilsonstreeturbanfarm permalink
    June 2, 2011 8:58 am

    If your comment is missing, it’s because things were getting very off-topic in a non-constructive way. All I meant about the title of this post was that I was getting lazy about chronicling the activities of the farm. The news of the farm will grow at whatever pace it grows. I’m not complaining that it’s not getting out. I appreciate BFA, otherwise I wouldn’t have it linked here. I also appreciate your support, CA. I already have something on Facebook; the two are connected. Now, let’s get along! 🙂

  4. Chris Arbo permalink
    June 2, 2011 12:45 pm

    One more thing, please: In your Links column here, you might want to change your “Wilson Street Urban Farm” link to more readily ID it as Facebook and place it at the top of “Links”. Otherwise, this WordPress account is fine now.

    As for your actual Facebook account, I see that it already does link back to this WordPress.

    ON TOPIC: For those who want to start from scratch instead of purchasing seedlings, I like the way you carefully explain how that is done.

    This spring, we had a nice happening in our veggie garden of store-bought seedings. This is the first time in over 40 years of gardening that after being planted into our garden, nothing went into shock from the transplant!


  1. Farm Report: Lots Happening; Nothing Being Said About It! | Broadway Fillmore Alive - The Online Voice of Buffalo's Historic Polonia

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