Living The DIY Soil Block Maker: 7 Plans

Published on January 24th, 2013 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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The DIY Soil Block Maker: 7 Plans

soil blocks for starting seeds

Image credit: dontodd via photopin cc

I’ll admit it: until last week, I didn’t know about the concept of starting seeds in soil blocks (instead of containers). Mother Nature Network made the introduction, and my initial response was, shall we say, positive. After just a little poking around, I discovered two things: 1. you certainly can buy a soil block maker (or “blocker”) for a relatively reasonable price (and, yes, that’s an affiliate link), and 2. lots of people have created plans for making blockers, often from reused materials.

So, go ahead and spend that $30 if you’d like… or get creative with one of these ideas for making your own soil blocker.

1. Turn a Soup Can into a Soil Block Maker

Opened up a can of soup or beans lately? Then you’ve got the first material needed for this DIY blocker. You can probably rustle up the other materials around the house, also.

 2. The Medicine Bottle Block Maker

Need something smaller? Pill bottles can work – just make sure to wash them out well beforehand. JBest at the Helpful Gardener forums shares his plan (along with before and after pics). Another one for which you may have the materials laying around the house.

3. The PVC Pipe Blocker

No doubt – PVC is nasty stuff. But, as I understand it, it does the most harm after disposal. So, while you may initially think “I don’t want to use that stuff  in combination with food production,” this plan from Steve Howard at FarmCastNetwork.com might be a more sustainable option than tossing out that used PVC pipe (where it can leach into soil and water).

4. The Soda Can Soil Blocker

Like previous plans, this one from DaveNJ at Instructables makes good use of materials you might otherwise throw out. Additionally, Dave walks you through the whole process of making soil blocks – there’s also a recipe for potting mix here.

5. The Hardware Store Plan

Finally, this last plan for single block maker from PottingBlocks.com takes all of its materials from the local hardware and/or building supplies store – but it’s still cheaper than buying a blocker. A little more PVC here – if you’ve got ideas for alternative materials, share them.

soup can soil block maker

Image credit: jbest123

6. The Soup Can Multi-Blocker

Of course, you’ve probably already noticed the main difference between the product you can purchase, and many of these DIY plans: the one you buy lets you make multiple blocks. This hasn’t gotten away from the DIYers completely, though: jbest123 (whom I’ve got a sneaking suspicion is our jbest above) share photos of his multi-block maker that uses soup cans (that’s one of them above). The instructions are largely lacking, so you may want to spend some time with our last plan for pointers.

7. The Super-Deluxe DIY Soil Blocker

If you want a soil blocker that looks good while pumping out multiple blocks for starting those seeds, here’s your plan. Instructables member spike3579 provides a very thorough nine-step walkthrough (via Treehugger)

Ready to build a soil block maker? Know of another plan that you like? Share your thoughts with us.

UPDATE: Reader Matthew Farnell has created his own soil-blocking system with materials he found around the house.  I’ll have to find out the size of the salt box he uses for the larger blocker; overall, though, a really interesting approach:

Still want to use pots? Why not make your own?



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



  • http://www.pottingblocks.com Jason Beam

    This is a great article, Jeff. The biggest issue with buying the real Ladbrooke Soil Blocker for 30 bucks is that it lasts forever. Zinc coated steel with only one moving part engineered by a reliable British firm. Not much money to spend on a tool that will never break, not even rust for decades, and works day in and day out. Soil Block Maker Tools by Pottingblocks.com are the lowest price in the business, including shipping. They have a money back guarantee and a website dedicated to soil block success.

    • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      Thanks so much for the input, Jason – that’s all good to know. And $30 really isn’t a bad price – I just know that many of our readers would like the DIY options…

  • http://www.ambius.com Sean Heffernan

    Thanks for sharing. Who knew you could use a soup can to make a soil blocker? Neat.

  • http://www.imgoingeco.com Eco Guy

    I like the PVC template! Easy to make several at once. Would be easy for the kids to do too!

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  • http://www.farnellfamily.com Matthew Farnell

    I made my own soil block system after looking at some of these ideas. Here is a video of my system, made with a pop can, closet rod, salt container, and a block of wood: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=bpNr5T4IJ-g&show_mt=1 (feel free to add to your list if you like!) :-)

    • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      Matthew – that’s not the right link for your video; the right one should have the word “watch” in the URL… I’d love to see what you came up with!

      • http://www.farnellfamily.com Matthew Farnell
        • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

          Matt – This is great – thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely add this to the post…

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