Today's gift: Soil blocker
Soil blockers have been used for a long time, with some sources dating them to 2,000 years ago. They're used in modern-day agriculture and are available in smaller sizes for home use.
Here's how they work: Moisten potting mix until it's the consistency of oatmeal, press the soil blocker into the soil and give it a twist to fill its chambers. Squeeze the spring-loaded level to release blocks and plant a seed in each hole. It's easy and fun, and it eliminates the need for plastic cell packs or seed pots. The soil is compressed so tightly that it won't fall apart as seedlings grow. What's more, because there is no pot surrounding the soil, plants will not become root bound, as they simply stop growing when they reach the outer edges of the cube. I like Jason Beam's Mini 2-inch Potting Blocks, which allow gardeners to make four soil blocks at a time. $29.95 at pottingblocks.com.