Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Plant A Mini SIP (aka Portable Micro Garden)

Learn how to make an excellent Portable Microgarden from the nice folks at Inside Urban Green. They advised us on retrofitting our plastic spinach boxes into traveling mini SIPs like this one so we could take them on our road adventure and eat fresh greens.

Check out the travel SIPs post to learn how to make one from stuff you already have or can garbage pick. The bottle provides a reservoir for water and oxygen. You don't need that black HDPE pipe--we had some left over and used it. You could use a second water bottle for the water fill tube.

These microgardens are perfect for those of us living in the northern hemisphere right now as spring tenuously approaches. Chicago weather can be fickle: 28 degrees F today and last week 65.

We planted some cool-loving lettuces and greens in our mini SIPs and set 'em on the outside windowsill facing south. If temps plummet, we just lift them inside and shut the window. Click to see these are bungee corded so they don't drop on unsuspecting perambulators below ("Knocked out by kale!").

Here's how to plant your mini SIP...
I'm putting in young plants Bruce started under lights, but these containers also work well for direct-seeding, especially if you keep them on a warming mat in the strengthening spring light. We'll discuss that in next post.

1--Fill with damp potting mix and add a handful of organic fertilizer.

2--Mix the fert in with your hands and top up the boxes with plain potting mix.

3--Plant, water the plants once top-down, and then water through the fill tube into the H2O-oxygen reservoir (aka, the buried water bottle). You don't need to water until it comes out the overflow tube--just enough so the box has some weight). Here we planted some miner's lettuce and Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled cress.

Click to enlarge. These will look a lot better once they settle in and get some legs...and leaves! You will get an amazing amount of salad out of these just by clipping the small leaves that develop. Salads forevah.

Here are the tiny determinate tomatoes Debbie brought us in a yogurt cup during our seed swap Feb 12.

They loved growing up in this mini SIP on a heating mat, drawing the water they needed from the bottom. Gonna get these into some larger grow pots soon.


Carol said...

Is that a horizontal bottle in there?

H2 said...

Hi Carol:
Yes--could even be a smaller bottle. Here's the how-to...