Gardening Homesteading Tools

Seeds and a sickle

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Spring is well under way—who am I kidding? It's almost summer! And so I'm just getting around to document a few of the scenes from our garden. Our season started out so warm and dry, and then a spate of very cool, wet days have slowed us (and plants) in May. Early spring is one of the most exciting times of year. The weeds are small, the air is clean, and all the preparation holds promise. 

Case in point: seed starting. I borrowed my friend's Soil Blocker, which I used to eye with suspicion (how can it cost $30?) until I used it for the first time last year. Johnny's makes it, and it's as bomber as any tool I've ever used. Its simplicity is what I love most. I already had plenty of plastic trays, so all that little hands and I had to do was work potting mix and water into a mush until it felt spongey wet. Then, we pushed the blocker down and wiggled. It takes a little practice, but you learn to lift up carefully to make fantastically solid pure soil blocks—ready for seeding.

The idea is that you needn't buy any kind of peat or newspaper or plastic seedling pots ever again. And the air that surrounds each block "air prunes" the roots of the growing plants, so the seedlings' roots stop and patiently wait until you plant them. Then, they experience less transplant shock than other seedlings. I love the idea, but I love making them even more. 


I was also itching to mow down the plump, green winter rye I planted last fall in several beds where I'll plant bigger plants, including tomatoes and cukes. I wrote about my plan a while back. The idea is to leave the stubble in place to hold the ground, which is handy on my terraced beds. Then, the green stalks left behind become the straw mulch for the plants to come. It's genius!


So is this old sickle. I found two in our stash, and I've never, ever had a use for them—until now. This was the best looking of the two, and I didn't even bother to sharpen it. But I must say that using a sickle to quickly level sturdy stems is about as fun a task as I can imagine.


I've decided that a little garden prep—and a confident stroke now and then—really pays off.


  1. I have been using soil blocks for several years now and love them! The seedlings grow healthier and they don’t get transplant shock. I used my own organic compost this year instead of buying blocking mix and the seedlings grew even better! Soil block makers are well worth the money!

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