Soil Cubes

Posted: June 26, 2011 in Gardening, Seeds

I plan to start most of the plants in my allotment next year in soil cubes. I’ve had great success with them in my small (and highly experimental) back garden this year.

A soil cube is exactly what it sounds like – a small cube of soil. You can buy tools to make soil cubes or you can be cheap like me and make your own. Given the choice I would probably buy one rather than make it. You basically need something which will lightly compact the soil so it holds it shape.

What makes a soil cube such a brilliant idea is that it almost totally eliminates transplant shock. This normally occurs when the roots are moved from one location to another. There is a certain amount of bashing around, another amount of nudging etc. Plants do not like this. Paul Wheaton postulates that if  a seedling which would normally develop a taproot is transplanted then the taproot will never develop (for certain values of never).

Starting seeds in a seed tray or plastic pot can (and mostly does) result in either a tightly bound root ball or circling roots. Both of these need some bashing about to fix which the seedling does not like. The ideal thing to do is to plant your seeds where you want them to end up. This isn’t always possible as they may need more heat, light etc than can be provided where you want them when you need to plant them to get the produce when you want it.

A seed cube sorts this out. You can start them where you want, when you want them and then never get transplant shock because the roots are never exposed. In the cube the roots never reach the surface. When you want to plant them on simply dig a small hole, pop in the cube and hey presto, job done.

A store bought one looks like this, nice, shiny etc. I made mine out of lego and it looks like this:

Soil Cuber - Home made

Lego FTW

Mine will do four cubes at a time but sometimes bits drop off. It took me about half an hour to make and has so far been in action for about a year.

All you need to do is mix up some soil/compost/whatever else, add a bit of water to it so it is the consistency of thick porridge and then add it to the large part at the top of the picture. Then put the lid on (the bit with the rocket motors on it) and compress the whole lots. At the bottom is a plunger which will push the cubes out nicely. One they have dried off a little bit you put a seed into the depression at the top, then fill in the rest with soil and water lightly.

Here are 12 I made earlier, already filled up with seeds (pumpkins, courgettes and cabbages in this example, although I imagine if you looked closely you’d be able to see that…)

Soil Cubes!!!


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