Years Ago I Used A Homemade Block (Module) Marker To Space Several Million Lettuce Outdoors. It Ensured Each Plant Had Enough Space To Grow But No Space Was Wasted. Here’s How I Did It.

Essentially this tool is a Module Marker, Seedbed Marker or Block Marker depending on how you use it. Mine was mounted on the three point linkage of my tractor which used a 48inch centres wheel spacing. With this spacing I could mark up beds across my field which contained four rows of letter per bed.

The idea behind this device is tha tit sets up a bed when driven in one direction and a parallel bed when driven back with one wheel in a previous wheeling. Repeat as many times a necessary and the result is a field full of closely spaced plants in parallel beds. Its extremely time and space efficient.

How to Build a Block Marker

The tool is based on a cylindrical roller.In the video below it is constructed of wire mesh. Mine was made of L shaped angled iron welded onto a couple of discs that shared a common axle.

Around the cylinder a series of blocks were mounted, one per row, and as the roller rotated each block created a depression in which a plant could be put. Planting was by hand after the bed was marked up.

Here’s the clever bit.

The circumference of the disc was 40inches. That means around a 40 inch circumference we could put four blocks spaced at ten inches apart, ten blocks at four inches apart, eight at five inch, five at eight inch etc. you decide on the spacings as multiples within the 40inches.

For distances between the rows we could use as many sets of markers as we wanted. They were made of spring steel and held in a circle by a single nut and bolt to form a circular ring around the central “cage”. By loosening the bolt we could remove them or move them sideways. That meant we could create four rows .. or more .. or less.

Veg beds create by block marker type machine.

The image shows a bed with four rows of plants in a bed. These plants look like swedes but the principle is the same as we used for lettuce.

Plantings Staggered in the Rows

To maximise space it makes sense to stagger the rows so we are planting on the diagonal rather than on the square. To do this the bands of blocks are staggered on the roller. Simples

Block Markers In Greenhouses and Polytunnels

We didn’t use tractors in all our glass clad greenhouses and polytunnels as they wasn’t enough turning space. But we did use block markers.

The way we did it was to remove the rotors from the rotavotor and replace them with a block marker cage. We can then use these “wheels” to move up and down the bays and leave a block mark in which to drop a soil block or veg module. It’s very quick and simple.

If you don’t have a rotovator capable of this you could build a pedestrian marker like in the next video. They seem incapable of moving it in a straight line, but with a bit of practice it shouldn’t one hard.

Do you need a block marker?

Unless you are growing large volumes of veg, probably not. But it’s good to see how inventive someone with a hacksaw, some scrap steel and a welder can be! I enjoyed making these devices and he’d a small factory in my packing shed turning them out in winter.

Row & Block Marker – The Video

This video shows a pedestrian operated marker and it’s being used to mark rows rather than block holes. But the principle is the same.

Here’s a variation on the same theme. A Spikey roller aka Lantern wheel marker …

If you need more detail on the construction of any component in my design please contact me.

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