I can get 40 blocks in the large flat, and 15 on the tray. The block maker is a small Tupperware container, a threaded rod, a nut and an acorn nut to hold the Plexiglas square on the pusher end, and a handle for comfort. I get the potting mix quite wet, then push it into the block maker with my thumbs until it's well packed, then push down on the plunger to release the block. I rinse out the block maker after every 6-8 blocks to keep it working smoothly.
I bought several of these white trays at the dollar store last year. They are perfect for 15 soil blocks and the plastic dome that comes with salad mixes. They have just enough lip that I can use bottom watering on the blocks, and they are sturdy enough not to bend when I move them from one place to another. I have enough trays and flats, and enough room in my mini-greenhouse, to hold 304 blocks. That means I only have to make 257 more!
The soil blocks are sturdy, and can be moved around if needed. I plant one seed per block, and if some don't germinate I just recycle the block and try again. I normally plant at least twice as many blocks as I'll need, to compensate for possible poor germination. If I can't find room in my garden for all that do grow, I can usually find someone to take them off my hands. After I place a seed in the indentation in the block, I cover it with vermiculite. I use a spray bottle to water the tiny seedlings, and switch to bottom watering after they begin getting their true leaves. I won't use any fertilizer on the seedlings, as there is added fertilizer in the potting mix. I nearly killed all my tomato plants last year by giving them extra fertilizer!
It's trying to rain this morning, but I did get quite a bit done so far. The east garden has been cleaned up, old marigolds and tomato plants removed, tomato cages cleaned and put away, radishes planted and a new bed in the making.
It's too bad I didn't take a better photo of the bed along the left (east) fence. It was overrun with dead tomato and marigold plants, and full of leaves and an unpruned rose. Actually, it's too bad I didn't take a photo of this entire garden area before I worked on it yesterday, as it was really a mess. Anyway all the leaves were raked out and tossed over the fence to be mowed and bagged, the rose was pruned, all of the dead marigolds (these were HUGE!) and the tomato plants were pulled and bagged, and the tomato cages were cleaned and stored.
Last year bed #7 held the potatoes. This year I plan on using it for lettuce, which really doesn't need such a deep bed, so I pulled off the top frame, and I'll make a second lettuce bed!
Earlier this morning, I made three seed strips (seeds glued to toilet tissue) of Champion, Cherry Belle and Sparkler radishes. I decided to use these as row markers in bed #7, where I'll be planting lettuce seedlings later. The wind was blowing pretty hard, and the glue wasn't quite dry when I planted the radishes, but it was beginning to sprinkle so I thought I'd better hurry and get them in the ground. Luckily I didn't have any problems! It's now lunch time, and the raindrops are only teasing me. Please, please....I need rain!