Soil blocks are a method to grow seedling plants. They remove the need for a container--such as pots--and allow the plants to germinate in a small space. Seed blocks are also useful for transplanting plants, with little to no transplant shock. It saves time, space and money. Making a soil blocker is an easy project.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2 inch inside diameter PVC pipe
- 3/4 inch wood dowel
- circle cutter for use in drill press only
- 3/4 inch forstner drill bit
- carpet tape
- hand saw
- 3/4 inch wood screws
- 3/4 inch thick wood scrap
- wax (candle)
Cut out three flat wooden discs from your scrap piece of wood. The first one, the top disc, goes in the top of the plunger and won't move. It can be exactly the same size as the inside diameter of the PVC pipe (2 inches). The other two discs (the plunger and the handle disc) must be slightly smaller in diameter because the wood will get wet and possibly swell. It might also swell after sealing it, so to make it work, cut out the disc to about 1 3/4 inch to 1 7/8 inch in diameter. Use the circle cutter in the drill press to accomplish this step.
Mark each of the three discs with a pencil mark cross in their exact centre. Use a ruler for this.
Replace the circle cutter on the drill press with a 3/4 inch drill bit. Then, place the discs, one at a time, directly under the drill bit, making sure that when they are drilled through, the hole will be directly in the centre. Secure the discs in a vice or with tape.
Drill the plunger and the top disc all the way through with the 3/4 inch drill bit. Drill the handle disc to 1/4 inch deep. Do not drill the handle disc all the way through.
Use the hand saw to cut the PVC pipe down to 3 1/2 inches long, and cut the dowel rod to 6 inches long.
Glue the dowel rod into the handle disc and allow it to dry. While drying, glue the top disc into the PVC pipe. Make sure that it is flush with the top of the PVC pipe. Make sure it fits properly before gluing. Sand or cut down the disc if needed to fit it into the PVC pipe. Once it's in place and dry, use wood screws to secure the top disc in place, securing it further.
Seal everything with polyurethane--coating everything three to four times. Allow the device to dry.
Slide the open end of the dowel rod into the hole in the top disc. Push the dowel rod all the way through until the handle disc is flush with the top disc. Turn the device over, and place the dowel into the hole in the plunger disc. Make the end of the dowel rod flush with the bottom of the plunger disc. Secure it there with wood glue and a wood screw, allowing them to dry.
Try it out. Move the handle up and down. If it is not smooth enough, add candle wax to the plunger disc and allow to dry. This will make the movement smoother and easier on you. Then, add your preferred soil block soil mix, and make some soil blocks.
Tips and warnings
- This method of making a soil blocker can be done easily with different size PVC pipe and dowel rods. Simply change the measurements. It is recommended that you transplant your seedlings to bigger soil blocks periodically, anyway--so making multiple sizes of soil blockers can help with this.
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