Seed Swaps

Soil Block--Capillary Mat Trial

28 Feb 2012
Cloudy 0°C / 32°F

I had to pot up the rest of the coleus so I could utilize the capillary mat for the small soil blocks. This should stop them from drying out. I also potted up the basil and parsley.

The hub says he will make me a 2×2×2 block, but I am starting to have my doubts that the soil blocks are going to work for me in the long run.

I’m not giving up on the soil blocks……yet.

As I have been itching so sow something, anything…..I have resorted to saving the seed from store-bought lemons, mandarin oranges and pineapple. I know that the odds of getting fruit are slim to none, leaning heavily to the “none” side. Cheap sowing thrills for me!

The “plant shuffle” is in full swing as I pot stuff up. Thank goodness I have the rack in the kitchen!

Main photo—small blocks on capillary mat



Interesting photo, especially on Flickr where you can zoom in.

Those 5 black squares are some sort of blocks of soil. What holds them together?

The dark grey mat is something to transport water around. I see a clear tube with water in it and a red cap. What keeps the water from running out into the capillary mat?

I see 12 shadows or depressions or something under the capillary mat. What are they?

And what material is the capillary mat made of?

Posted on 29 Feb 12 (about 6 years ago)

Your coleus looks great – mine are just wee little things still! I recognize the lee valley seed starter! I got a few for Christmas – do you like them?

Posted on 01 Mar 12 (about 6 years ago)

interesting. I have not seen anything like the mat/set up before.
Your coleous is looking good. I have saved a lot more of it this year than I usually do. Some is potted up and some is still in water. As I am breaking off pieces, I am just sticking them in containers of water on the window sill. They will probably go right from there into the garden.

Posted on 01 Mar 12 (about 6 years ago)

@JimMarconnet: yes, those 5 black squares are exactly that—blocks of soil. They are held together by the consistency of the soil (not too wet or dry).

The dark grey mat is the capillary mat. The clear tube with the red cap tells me the water level in the bottom tray. The water doesn’t run out into the capillary mat, but rather the capillary mat wraps around and is folded over and the extra material is submerged in the water in the bottom tray. The material draws the water up, keeping the soil blocks from drying out.

The dark shadows you see are circles from the other soil I had on it. (I didn’t do the best job cleaning off the mat!) I do not know what the capillary mat is made of, but I plan on looking into this as I would like to make my own.

The whole system you see there is actually a 4 part seed starting tray. Along with the bottom tray that holds the water, it comes with the capillary mat, another part (not shown) that has 24 cells, and a clear plastic dome. As nickyn mentioned, you can get them from Lee Valley.

Posted on 01 Mar 12 (about 6 years ago)

@nickyn: I have 2 of those Lee Valley seed starters that I got brand-new-never-used from a thrift store for 2 bucks each—score! Anyways, yes I do like them alot They actually make perfect soil blocks because, as you know, the underside of the part with the capillary mat on it has the tubes to push out the cells.
I considered using these cells as the first stage for my little soil blocks, (instead of the ice cube tray). When I figure out how to get a 1×1×1 chuck out of them, I may use them as my stage 2.

@glgardener: Lee Valley is where you can get the seed starting set up from. I am just using the bottom 2 pieces. If I get a chance, I will post photos of the actual set-up. I am using it a different way than originally intended.
I plan on pinching back these coleus at the end of the season to grow indoors over winter. I had intended on doing that last year with the coleus I started, but we were moving and I had too much going on!

Posted on 01 Mar 12 (about 6 years ago)

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