Succession Planting in Soil Blocks

…Locally Grown…Sustainable…Freshly Picked… Chemical-Free…

After such a snowy and cold winter, it has been heartwarming for us to return home from our winter travels and begin making plans for the spring.  Even through our gardens are under snow at the moment, and it will be weeks before we will sink our hands into the soil; now is the time to start planting seeds. There is so much beauty and joy with starting seeds.   It’s like a declaration of hope for the coming spring, a trust that the natural rhythms of our Southeast Alaska winter landscape really will end, and a re-connection to one of the things that we love to do most- grow the freshest, healthiest produce found in Southeast Alaska.

Always willing to try something new, we recently began using an ingenious seed-starting method that allows us to make soil blocks out of a compost/kelp based soil that we make ourselves. We were attracted to making soil blocks because young seedlings grown in this manner don’t suffer from “transplant shock” when they are later put into ground. Another great thing about making our own soil blocks is that it eliminates the expense, waste, shipping and storage issues associated with plastic pots.

Here at Sunny Slope Farm succession planting allows us to make the best use of our high tunnel growing space and it helps us to provide our CSA customers with longer availability and diversity of fresh vegetables during the growing season by making efficient use of space and timing. For instance, for us to grow fresh basil, beets, mustard greens and broccoli all summer long, we need to seed 20 these plants every two weeks throughout the season. Succession planting will extend our window of harvest so we don’t have to eat the entire crop of lettuce in two weeks.

Today we watched a soft blanket of snow slowly cover the ground outside the window as we planted basil, parsley, leeks, onions, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, and fennel seeds. Of this group, all but the squash was planted in 20-cell soil blocks, which measure 3/4″ by 3/4″ in size. Soon these seemingly lifeless seeds will have sprouted into vigorous healthy plants that will be transplanted into 2″ blocks. This time of year, always gives us so much hope. Happy planting!