Large SIP/Wicking Bed for Trees

wetjackson(5)February 9, 2012

Since this is my first post, I would like to thank the contributors of this forum for their detailed and logical information. It is refreshing to see the "why it works" side of the conversation and I think this leads to continued improvement of the craft.

Now to my question, I am planning on planting fruit trees in containers, primarily because I expect to be moving within the next couple of years and don't want to keep putting off my hopes for an orchard.

I currently have no space constraints, live on 10 acres in the Southern WI, and don't anticipate space constraints in the future. I simply want to start the learning process and would like to take my efforts with me when I go.


My current thoughts revolve around semi-dwarf trees planted in IBC containers. With a 1:2 water to media ratio, this would still allow nearly 75 gallons of reservoir and a 150 gallon media bed. My thought is that this additional space would allow the tree to produce with maximum results.

I would be able to position the trees for ideal sunlight in the summer and then move them to a protected location in winter, possibly berming them or covering with mulch?

I don't see the size as a particular disadvantage since the IBC's are inexpensive and once the combined weight of the container/media/tree exceeds about 75lbs, I would rather move it with my Kubota than try to muscle it around.

I already scoured the forum and plan on using either the 511 mix or Gritty mix for the media, but am struggling with the watering method. I like the convenience of the SWC/SIP but am not sure that things will scale up nicely and have been reading quite a bit about the wicking bed concept.


Would filling the bottom 12" or so with large Scoria/Red Lava Rock, adding a breathable membrane, and then the media mix be the same as a standard reservoir, just with less holding capacity? I would still use a wicking chamber and overflow hole, just the large, porous rock would create the bottom shelf.

Is there any advantage of a container this size, since all of the nutrients will be supplied by fertilizer anyhow?

If I did this and had trouble controlling the moisture level, could I simply let it drain and use a drip line/timer or would I need to construct things differently from the beginning?

That is it for now, I will continue to search through the forums and gather information and was able to find all of the necessary ingredients for this mix in the Milwaukee area pretty easily. I can list where if anyone is interested.

Thanks again,,,

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Mike Larkin

Welcome Wet
I will be interested in finding from out from others how well fruit trees will grow in containers. I beleive anything is possible. Do you have a variety that you plan to plant Apple, pear, .....?
. Assume that the dwarf variety will work best - Eventually do you plan to move these trees to you next home?
Look forward to all the replies --
Best of Luck


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:21PM
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