While it looks like I have just baked 400 of the world's most delicious and personally sized chocolate cakes, they are actually soil blocks. Last summer Garth and I ordered this soil block maker after reading Elliott Coleman's book, The New Organic Grower. In it he describes the process of making soil blocks and gives a recipe for turning out these nutrient dense little squares. There are many compelling reasons for starting seeds this way. The blocks create ideal conditions for germination. They are very good at retaining moisture, yet incapable of becoming so moist that you worry your seeds might drown. They also enable you to start seeds without an assortment of #5 plastic containers. The roots of plants in plastic containers will often outgrow their small confines and begin strangling themselves by running their roots around in circles. When the time comes to transplant them, they can suffer transplant shock after having 1/2 their roots ripped off in the process of untangling them. This stunted period of growth can negate the time you gained from starting your seeds early. When the roots of seeds in soil blocks have grown to the edges they sense the air and sunlight and they don't get all up in a jambles, so to speak. Transplanting them is gentle on the seedling because the entire block is submerged in the soil without any disturbance to the roots or shoot. Beyond these practical considerations the blocks are fabulously attractive, as you can plainly tell. Before we start seeding them though, we are going to plant the 35 apple trees that just came. They too are fabulously attractive.