Living soil blocks for starting seeds

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


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 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 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.

Next page: “Multi-unit” soil blockers

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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

10 Responses to The DIY Soil Block Maker: 7 Plans

  1. Jason Beam says:

    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 are the lowest price in the business, including shipping. They have a money back guarantee and a website dedicated to soil block success.

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

  3. Eco Guy says:

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

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  6. 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: (feel free to add to your list if you like!) :-)

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