After such a snowy and cold winter it was heartwarming to start some vegetable seeds
this week. Using soil blocks, I started the following seeds indoors:
“Black Seeded Simpson” leaf lettuce
“Little Gem” romaine small headed lettuce
“Galia” curly endive (also known as frissee)
“Zefa Fino” bulb fennel
All four of these varieties thrive in the cool temperatures of Spring in zone 6a.
I can’t say enough about “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce. It is easy to
grow, tastes great and has a pleasing texture.
“Little Gem” romaine produces small heads of delicious lettuce. It does well in all
three growing seasons, so I will start more seeds every three weeks. Seeds can be purchased from”The Cook’s Garden” seed company.
Always willing to try something new, I began using soil blocks five years ago. I was
attracted by the claim that young seedlings grown in soil blocks don’t suffer from
“transplant shock”. I’ve discovered that this claim is true. Seedlings do seem to
make the adjustment to living in the garden better than those grown in other containers.
This is especially true of lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, bulb fennel and frissee.
Of this group, I start all but the fennel in the 20 cell blocks, which measure
3/4″ X 3/4″ in size. When each seedling emerges, I then make 2″ blocks using
the 3/4″ square insert which makes an indentation that will accept the 3/4″ blocks.
You can’t use just any soil for the blocks. I use a special formulation called
“512 Mix” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Johnny’s also publishes a recipe for soil
block mix on their website Johnnyseeds.com ,for those who prefer to mix their own.
I use a mason’s trowel to mix the soil with water and to work it into the proper
thickness and texture for block making. Through trial and error I have discovered
that the 2″ blocks work better with a dryer mix and the 3/4″ blocks with a
The herb seed disks that were started in January are doing very well and are ready to be moved to the kitchen.
Two weeks ago, I started leeks seeds. They are now almost ready for transplanting.
HOW ARE THE CHICKENS?
Our flock of three birds has been a great joy to us. Our chickens have done a
remarkable job of coping with the cold and the snow. They are averaging a little
better than two eggs a day. We’ve had periods where we will get three eggs a day
for two or three consecutive days. I try to let them out of their pen once a day
for a half hour or so. They are happiest when free to peck around.
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Winter drives a man back upon himself, and tests his powers of self-entertainment.”
All the best,