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Soil Blocks vs. Peat Pots
Due to transplant shock, little healthy plants and seedlings can very quickly turn withered once moved from container to soil. This is where the use of peat pots and soil blocks comes in.
Because the entire pot may be dropped into the ground with the plant in peat pots, it results in transplant shock. During the transplantation procedure, this decreases the danger of root damage. The biodegradable container will decompose in the soil, enabling your plants to grow without being hampered by root impediments. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and in addition to being environmentally friendly and quite practical, they also provide a nice organic aesthetic to your patio.
Molded dirt in a single block is what soil blocks are. These blocks double as both a container and a growth medium. They're simple and quick to prepare. Blockers are available in multiple sizes. The 2" block is suitable for most seeds. Small seeds such as celery, parsley, and peppers can be started in 3/4" blocks, but eggplant should be transferred into 2" blocks as soon as the plant appears.
Peat Pots Explained
For those of you who do not know, peat is partially decomposed plant debris found in moist environments like marshes and swamps. Plants begin to decay when they die and fall to the ground. These bogs produce peat, which is used for a variety of purposes.
Peat may help enhance soil structure and retain moisture as an agricultural commodity. Although it does not deliver nutrients to the soil, it may store nutrients, which means that as a short-term growth medium, it will keep seeds wet and nutrient-rich.
Manufacturers of peat pots soak vast volumes of peat material in water, turning it into a thick, sludgy substance. For stiffness, wood pulp is used. The ingredients are mixed to create a peat slurry, which is then pressed into the desired pot shape. This compacts the moss and wood pulp while also squeezing out surplus moisture.
The pot is finished once it has been properly dried. Although the wood pulp keeps the pots stiff, they will ultimately lose their form; therefore, it is not a long-term solution to maintain your plants in these pots.
Planting peat pots in the ground is another option, especially if you're using plants that don't want their roots disturbed. The roots should stay undisturbed while the containers degrade. However, be aware that some crops may get root bound if the pots do not disintegrate entirely.
You may either bury the entire pot or take off the rim of the container to plant them deeper in the dirt. The latter is required to avoid root entanglement and to guarantee that the plant receives water and that the pot does not wick it away. After that, if there are any leftovers, you can put them in a plant bed or compost pile.
Easy to Use
Peat pots may be placed right into the ground. This is especially beneficial for vegetables that dislike being transplanted. Parsnips, carrots, and corn, for example, thrive in these containers.
Prevents Transplant Shock
Root development isn't hampered when using peat pots. The lack of a physical barrier will prevent the roots from twisting along the edges of the wall. This usually happens when the plant's root system grows so large that it begins to fill out the pot. As a result, the roots stop developing and branch out instead. This might indicate more robust growth or air pruning.
Peat pots can survive anywhere from months to a year. The faster they decompose, the more certain you may be that the pot is produced from biodegradable materials. As a result, some peat pots may dissolve before the conclusion of the growing season.
On the other hand, Peat pots are a wonderful option for container gardening. Even though they are biodegradable, they are big and thick enough to sustain the growth of a plant. Because the pots will simply become part of the soil, they are great containers for transplants and repotting to avoid shock.
Why Use Peat Pots?
Gardeners most commonly use peat pots for transplanting seedlings. If the weather outdoors is still not conducive to plant growth, peat pots and a greenhouse can be used to buy you some time until the weather improves. You may even keep the plants growing indoors and blend the peat pots into the garden bed.
Another use for peat pots is to start plants until they are large enough to be planted in the ground. Plants can be grown in peat pots for a month or two before being transplanted to the ground for this purpose. Cucumbers, squash, and melons are examples of plants that benefit from peat pots since they are susceptible to transplant shock.
A soil block compresses a mixture of soil and water into a cube, which is then used to start seeds indoors. A little divot is indented at the top of the soil block by the soil block maker, into which you can put a seed. The seed remains exposed and grows in its original location.
While soil blocking has several advantages, the main reason for blocking seedlings before transplanting is to keep roots from surrounding the container during development. Instead, the roots halt at the block's boundaries, ready to be transplanted into a bigger soil medium. Soil blocks prevent root stress when transplantation into the garden (or a container), resulting in healthier seedlings and plants.
Using a mixture of Perlite, soil, sand, and compost is the key to success with soil blocks. The peat is the most significant component of this mixture; its fibrous quality is employed to bind the material together and preserve moisture. You may make your own combination or purchase a ready-made soil block mix.
Strong Root Systems
Seedlings cultivated on dirt blocks develop more robust root systems than those raised in containers. The increased oxygen to the roots and the dirt block's natural ability to "prune" roots account for this. When transplanting in the garden, the soil block provides an advantage.
Because there is less root disturbance, the plant is able to establish itself quickly and isn't as prone to transplant shock. This is because the root surface area has risen, and the roots have been air pruned.
Less Transplant Shock
With a soil block, even plants that don't fare well when transplanted can thrive. The concept is that the air prunes the roots. The roots cease developing once they contact the air unless the plants are transferred into the garden or moved up to the next size soil block. This keeps the plant from becoming root-bound.
Because the plant isn't root bound, the roots don't need to be interfered with when it's time to transplant. This reduces transplant shock, allowing your plants to keep up with the rest of the world.
Ease of Use
A pair of soil blocks and several trays don't take up much room! If you live in a limited space, keeping a large number of seedling trays might be difficult. If you don't have enough shelf space in the greenhouse to store trays, you probably don't have enough shelf space. Period.
In comparison to standard seedling trays, you can insert a lot more little soil blocks in this tray. I know how strong the wind can be in our location! Beautifully ordered trays can rapidly get dispersed across the yard, but soil blocks are substantial and will not budge.
How to Use Soil Blocks
It's easy to use soil blocks, but remember to maintain them moist at all times. Keep in mind that the substance they use is more absorbent, so make sure the plant is still getting adequate water through its roots. To compensate for the block's absorptive characteristics, spray many times and use a wet potting mix.
The most significant downside of utilizing dirt blocks is the initial expense. You'll want to be able to transplant from smaller blocks to larger blocks if you want to gain the most advantage. You'll need to make your own potting soil from scratch.
You'll need to get a solid irrigation system in place. Watering has two issues: (1) spraying the blocks with a hand sprayer is time-consuming and may result in fungal illness, and (2) pouring water into the tray using a watering can may erode the blocks. It appears that putting the blocks on a mesh screen and bottom-watering them is the best solution in this regard.