sip/swcs: what medium to use and why?
I've been lurking these forums for about a week now, and have been researching subirrigation planters (sips), or self watering containers (swc).
I'm still in the planning/research phase, and haven't purchased anything other than an 18 gallon tote from Lowe's that says weather and crack proof with lifetime warranty, and a collection of plastic 500mL or/and 20oz water bottles from Nestle/Zypherhills. I plan on using acryllic yarn as wicks. Reason why I haven't started is because I've been reading about issues with SWCs and they either haven't been answered, or their answers raise more questions.
#1. I read somewhere that for container plants, you don't need the micro/bacterial ecosystem (in a soil environment)? I thought the bacteria was required for a nice relationship to continue providing food to the plant, as well as to help break down "slow release" fertilizers and any other materials in the pot.
#2. Assuming I could get the potting mix to not be too wet, are there any advantages of using potting mix other than being able to use any type of fertilizer (slow release I'm assuming)? Are any other SWC mediums (nonsoil mixtures, etc) able to use slow release fertilizers? NOTE: MiracleGro Continue Release instructions says to use their water soluble product for containers... I ask because that's something I already have on hand. I know that water soluble is the way to go.
#3. SWCs and potting mix have issues with being too wet. I've read that adding perlite to potting mix is like adding perlite to pudding. I've also read that it's possible to grow things in pure perlite, although I haven't found any instructions on how that works. I assume to just have the plant growing in it as if it is soil, and only use water soluble fertilizer?
#4. I read a thread about PWT (Perched Water Table) in SWCs and normal containers, and that a wick/toothpick/etc could lower PWT. If my SWC is up a decent height from the reservoir, couldn't I use 2 wicks? One long that reaches to the reservoir, and a shorter one half height to drain the water from the SWC back to the reservoir? It sounds plausible, but I'm sure I'm missing something.
#5. Why do people use soilless mixtures rather than pure perlite? Other than the cost.
#6. How well would a SWC of nonsoil (or potting mix if it does happen to matter. I assume potting mix would do well) live/react/whatever if it was then transplanted into the ground. Or converted into a traditional top watering container, or had it's medium replaced. Example: You grow something and give it to a friend.
That's about it for my questions. As you could probably tell I'm new-ish to gardening.