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Sunday, August 28, 2016



DIY SIPs For Seed Starters

Acronyms are great, aren't they?  Great for everyone that throws them around with great glibness!  Personally, I'm not a big fan of acronyms, they are difficult for me to remember what they mean and then when multiple meanings of an acronyms are involved the context and meaning must be remembered.  Phooey.

So, what is a DIY SIP?  It is a "do it yourself, sub irrigation planter".  Sub irrigation is ideal because it allows the soil to wick moisture from the water reservoir below as the plant needs them. With the tempermental seeds we've started, it is probably the most ideal solution for starting seeds that require a lot of moisture, but can easily become waterlogged and rot.

Simple SIP Mechanics

Many people have crafted all sorts of great ways to make a sub irrigation planter.  It has worked really well for many people and their plants and personally something similar to the diagram to the right was the most successful starter for my one surviving avocado tree, as noted in the diary entry of July 28, 2014: 1803 Days To Fresh Fruit..

In all versions there is some way of creating a place for a water reservoir at the bottom of the pot and a way for the water to get wicked up into the soil.  I currently have an old wine bottle cut in half and inverted to wick water up into the reservoir for another avocado pit that developing great root structure so far.

Seed SIPs

I like the SIPs and wanted to use it for all the little tropical seeds we're trying to start.  The Jackfruit seeds have become very green, two of the lychee seeds split, a rambutan seed needed quick starting and some of the longen seeds have been soaked for a few days.  The construction of the Seed SIP is really simple and transitions from water soaking to SIP really easily.

The materials needed are:

  1. Little desert or shot cups
  2. Leca clay
  3. Left over tulle fabric
  4. Potting Soil
  5. Label marker
  6. Seeds

Lets Get Started On The SIPs

Little desert or shot cup with Leca clay

We're using the same little cups  that we had in the windowsill to soak all the seeds.  The Leca clay was put in the bottom to help retain moisture and work similar to broken clay or stones used for drainage in larger planters.
We had some soaked in a weak solution of miracle grow and then dried out.  They may expand a little as the water is soaked in.

Tulle fabric layered on
We have TONS of tulle fabric that was purchased for making our own bee hats (to be detailed at a later time).  The tulle fabric will help keep the large pieces of the potting soil above the water reservoir, but some smaller particles will filter through, for sure.  

We want loose aerated soil so letting the smaller particles drop through isn't a major problem, so the tulle fabric will work fine and we don't have to worry about using weed blocker or other fabrics used for larger pots.  We also are keeping a stainless steel chop stick on hand to poke down the sides here and there.

After the tulle layer, we add the potting soil.  It should be put in loosely and not packed down.  Not all the way, but at a place estimated to accommodate the proper seed depth for the particular seed being planted.  

Jackfruit seed, soaked for a week
For the jackfruit, it was about an inch below the lip of the cup.  The jackfruit seed was put in and some soil put on top of the seed.  Then after all the seeds are set up, they look like the bunch of cups in the window sill (as displayed in the lead photo.)

On a side-note, the jackfruit seed was interesting to see after a week.  It looks like it is splitting to form the leaf or something.  Time to plant it before it collects bacteria and rots.  For some reason, it seems beneficial to plant these tropical seeds on the side and not with any particular end pointing downward, so each and every seed was laid flat.

Cross our fingers, hope for some delicious fruits in the next five years or so!

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