Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Saving Seeds, Replanting SIPs, World Made By Hand

Yesterday in the blast furnace that is Chicago this week I got myself up to the roof early. I wanted to do two things (three including watering) before 10:
  • Pull plants that had gone to seed and harvest the seed
  • Replant those now-empty SIPs
Here's a bad photo of the baby bok choy we planted on St Patrick's Day (3.17).

We enjoyed a lot of green from this one.

Once I'd pulled the plant, clipped the stem, and stuffed its top into a paper bag, I culled the crusty old fertilizer from around the SIP edges and tossed it into my bucket that comes downstairs to go into the composter.

The nice thing about mid-season SIP replanting is that you needn't dump out all the growing medium. Just re-dress the top for a new planting.

I topped up the potting mix
and added two cups of fresh fertilizer.

Then I flipped over the plastic shower cap
and retied it.

In this SIP, I planted all-season Romaine lettuce mix that Debbie (Kara's mom) gave me.

We'll see if it's truly all-season...

I also sprinkled on some of the bok choy seeds I'd just harvested.

See them here,
in their pods?

(click to big it up)

Finally, before heatstroke set in, I bagged up the IDed seed heads for the bok choy and cress. They need to dry out a bit more before the seeds are separated from the chaff. Two done. But it felt like something.

I just finished the James Howard Kunstler post-oil collapse novel World Made By Hand and there's little chance I'll ever again toss away perfectly good seed. I was struck, honestly, by how much we re-use, re-tool, and re-claim in our own day-to-day life. Without having to.

Here's a quick vid to set the scene for the book, an easy summer read that illuminates the very meaning of "local." Can any author truly imagine the fractures of a post-oil world? Unlikely, but Kunstler's fable was compelling enough to trigger changes in my own thinking after I put down the book.

From Orion Magazine...
Farmers have begun growing poppies, not for the drug trade, but to keep the local doctors stocked with powerful painkillers. The local dentist stays in business using a salvaged pulley drill, and patients bring in their old gold jewelry to use as cavity fillers in place of the high-tech composites used by dentists in ol’ 2007. The electricity doesn’t work anymore, but people in town still get water thanks to the gravity-fed reservoir ...

... the soft underbelly of Kunstler’s rage against what he perceives as America’s obliviousness is that he’s actually a true believer in humanity.


Ashley said...

Hi my name is Ashley and I tried SIP's without fertrilizer last year and it was a bust. So my question for you is what kind brand or kind of fertilizer do you use? And is it a different ratio for different plants.

H2 said...

Hi Ashley:
Yep, you gotta fed those plants. Because SIPs use a virtually sterile potting mix (so they can wick water) as opposed to composted material filled with nutrition, you need to add fertilizer.

See this post on how to set up the fertilizer ring:

I use Espoma Tomato Tone, an organic fertilizer, for tomatoes. For greens I use an organic balanced one, such as Garden Tone or Plant Tone. More at this link: