Soil Blocking: A Greener Approach to Garden Starters

By bernheim

The Edible Garden at Bernheim

As Bernheim’s Edible Garden Steward, I’ve recently embarked on a journey to reduce plastic waste in the garden, and soil blocking has emerged as a game-changer in this endeavor! By transitioning away from traditional plastic pots and trays, we are minimizing our environmental footprint and discovering a myriad of benefits that soil blocks bring to the gardening practice.

First and foremost, soil blocking significantly reduces plastic waste, a pressing concern for those of us who grow large quantities of plants. While some plastic trays or sheets are still necessary, eliminating the need for individual cell trays or pots greatly reduces plastic consumption. I hope this small change will have a profound impact on our gardening ethos, aligning our practices more closely with sustainability and eco-consciousness.

Soil blocks in Bernheim’s greenhouse

Additionally, soil blocking offers space efficiency, a perk for hobby gardeners and larger-scale growers alike. With the ability to fit hundreds of soil blocks in a compact area, we are maximizing our gardening space and production capacity. This intensive seed-starting method has allowed us to cultivate a variety of plants, from flowers to vegetables, in even the smallest of garden plots.

Beyond environmental considerations, soil blocking has transformed the way we nurture seedlings, promoting quicker growth and fostering excellent root health. The unique air pruning process encourages vigorous root development, resulting in sturdy and resilient seedlings ready for transplanting. Plus, the ease of transplanting soil block seedlings eliminates the tedious process of removing plants from cell trays, making gardening more enjoyable and efficient.

As my garden steward journey evolves, I’m excited to continue exploring innovative practices like soil blocking that not only benefit the garden but also contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet. With each soil block planted, I’m reminded of the power we hold as gardeners to cultivate beauty and abundance while treading lightly on the earth.

Nursey Manager, Casey Hammett interacting with visitors at RESTORE 2023

For a chance to see the soil blocking process in person, and even take one home for yourself, I will be hosting a Soil Blocking Presentation at this year’s RESTORE event, taking place on April 20th, 2024. We will be giving away mini soil blocks sowed with a butterfly and hummingbird mix, a perfect and necessary addition to any garden!

Hope to see you there!

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