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  • Making and Using SIPs for Fig Culture.

    SIPs (Sub-Irrigated Planters) can be constructed from almost any container. More than a decade ago my first exposure to SIPs and the 5 gallon bucket SIPs was the earth Box and "Earth Box Clone" (Homemade Earth Box SIPs), http://www.postoilsolutions.org/documents/Earthbox.pdf

    There are several plans and videos of their construction and use, a few are listed below;
    http://earthbox.com/earthbox-systems.html (SIP diagram)
    http://earthbox.com/earthbox-pdf/EB-...IONS_NEW-2.pdf (Assembly and Planting instructions)
    http://earthbox.com/approved-for-earthbox (Tested/Approved Commercial Potting mixes)
    http://earthbox.com/videos (videos)
    http://www.instructables.com/id/how-...-box/?ALLSTEPS (Earth box Clone SIP)
    http://www.insideurbangreen.org/earthtainer/ (Earth box Clone SIP)


    For fig culture 5 gallon buckets, 25 gallon planters, 30 gallon and 55 gallon barrels have been modified for use as sips.
    F. Bennett , First pic - May 7th... Second pic -July 16th... 70 days.
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    Bills Figs, 4 years old or older trees have between 200 and 300 figs on them during a growing season.
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    There are several plans and videos of their construction and use, a few are listed below;
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant-...57626178492637 (1/2 barrel SIPs)
    http://figs4fun.com/bills_figs.html (Bill's Figs SIPs)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRfetf4u5Cw (Bill's Figs Video)
    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=6256837 (5 gallon SIP)
    http://alaskagrowbuckets.com/ (simple 5 gallon SIP)
    http://www.globalbuckets.org/ (2 - 5 gallon bucket SIP)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w96SAjpnlGY (30 and 55 gallon Barrel SIPs)
    https://youtu.be/wGF72sOwgJI ( 1/2 - 55 gallon Barrel SIPs)
    https://youtu.be/VPxj8e2r7H0 ( 1/2 - 55 gallon Barrel SIPs with air pruning)
    Last edited by AscPete; 05-16-2015, 11:29 AM. Reason: added Links...
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

  • #2
    Great! What come to mind here is you start rooted cuttings in 5gal and then at some point pot up to 25gal.

    Do you mix water soluable fert with the reservoir water?
    Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b

    Comment


  • #3
    I saw Bills "SIP's" a couple years ago and modified the application slightly to accommidate some nicer looking pots for the front porch. Using the offset from the bottom method with a standard, large glazed ceramic pot and calculating the offset to the burlap just above the level of a large plastic drip pan. It allows me the opportunity to water them each morning on the porch with minimal overflow and a nice looking pot to boot. keeps the "family" happy.

    Also, I've taken 4 gallon square pvc pots and modified them to accomidate fig sip's....seem to be working nicely with a couple in their second year....the squares pack nicely together when in the shade structure with no wasted space. they hold a little over 2 gallons of liquid and are watered with 1 1/2" pvc risers.

    I'm using a hydro food blend to keep them happy....alls well so far. I have a couple covered with black plastic and the remainder have no covers.

    Costco has the 1/2 barrel looking tubs periodically for about $18.00...my thanks to Bill for that lead.
    Last edited by rusty hooks; 05-17-2015, 03:04 AM.
    Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra

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    • #4
      Thanks Pete for compiling all this great information!
      Phil
      Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        You're welcome.

    • #5
      Just an update of my ongoing SIP fabrication. Currently have over 30 barrels cut, but only have 5 - 30 gallon 1/2 barrel SIPs completed. Each SIP requires over 12 Gallons of potting mix, so I've instead focused on bare rooting and up-potting existing 1 and 5 gallon trees.

      The photos are of the fabrication platform (pallet with 1/3 sheet of plywood) and the cutting bench (firewood rack) used to measure and cut the barrels. The measuring guide (Kitty Litter container) is the correct height for both the blue 30 gallon barrels (highest level) and the standard white 30 gallon barrels (lowest level).

      The Sawzall with a metal cutting blade makes quick and easy work of cutting the barrels.
      You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 8 photos.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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      • drphil69
        drphil69 commented
        Editing a comment
        That "fig" in the 3rd pic looks a lot like a blueberry bush...

    • #6
      Thank you Pete for the detail illustration on these! Man I can’t thank you enough! I’m still repotting 30 or so of my container trees using those 55g barrels. I was wondering how your setup was designed for cutting barrels. Using Bill’s method for SIPs really does save a lot of time on the back end! The prep work is what’s so hard and time consuming. I still have not perfected a method for marking my barrels. I need to make a jig that holes one barrel--looking at your setup gives me an idea!

      Today, I just drilled a hole inside my wooden 2x4 shelf , stick a sharpie inside and placed the barrel on a lazy susan and twirled the barrel around. It’s pretty straight but I don’t like it.

      I cut my barrel with a SawMaxx. The only downside to using a SawMaxx is, the darn thing gets extremely hot in no time. But it cuts the barrel like cutting hot butter. I'll post some pictures of my set when I'm done. thanks again!
      Dennis
      Charlotte, NC /Zone 8a

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        You're welcome.
        Once I have all the bugs worked out of the Pot Mover Platform Dolly I'll post better pictures of it with a build sequence. Its surprisingly easy and fast, no lifting. In use its very similar to this pot mover, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns2o...=youtu.be&t=21

      • rusty hooks
        rusty hooks commented
        Editing a comment
        I can't wait to see that Pete....that's the item that's been holding me back...or MY BACK....at 70, with a bad back, the last thing I want to do is throw it out again. That mini fork lift is just the ticket....now on to securing some good tires.

        Thanks so much...

        WOW.....354 pounds sterling.......maybe it's silver plated...time to get out the welder

    • #7
      Pete, do roots grow in the landscape drain pipe and eventually clog the system? I assume there is weep hole drilled in the side of the pot at or near the top of the drain pipe. Is soil poured on top of drain pipe for wicking?

      I priced 30 gal drums at a local feed store @ $20 ea. Is that about what you are having to pay?
      Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b

      Comment


      • #8
        Ross,
        Thats also one of the reasons that I haven't been in a rush to switch to larger containers. I'm currently able to man handle the half barrels but realize that this will not always the case. My original Dolly design was based on the alumacart (4 wheel), http://alumacart.net/the-alumacart-a...ons-and-carts/ , but with the front drive / pivot wheels placed at exact center of platform for a shallower loading ramp angle. Removing the two rear wheels actually made the dolly / cart easier to load and handle. The total material cost of the prototype is less than $60.00, but I'm still working out a simpler handle configuration. The 2 wheels are 10" diameter and cost $6.00 each from Harbor Freight.



        Jerry,
        Yes roots will eventually grow down into the "Reservoir", but the fig trees should be root pruned every 2 - 3 years anyway. Yes most SIP designs have an overflow to keep the water level below the bottom of the planter (aeration platform). Potting mix (not soil) is placed on spun landscape fabric that is used to form the Aeration Platform (bottom of the planter).
        I was able to get all my plastic barrels for free, over 4 dozen of the pictured blue barrels and almost 4 dozen assorted white 30 and 55 gallon barrels. The blue barrels had a salt solution and the white barrels had various soap and Glycol solutions. They are all #2 HDPE, its inert and non porous, so they are easily rinsed clear then washed with soap and water.

        They are sometime available at Car Washes and on sites like Craigslist.
        Last edited by AscPete; 05-27-2015, 10:54 PM. Reason: added comment and corrected typo.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

        Comment


        • rusty hooks
          rusty hooks commented
          Editing a comment
          heres a better look at the underside and adjustability mechanics of the mover

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k4duz4Izn0

          I have the technology available to accomplish this task....the time is another issue

        • jmaler
          jmaler commented
          Editing a comment
          Pete, you are not placing 1/2 the barrel inside the other 1f2 to form the planter on the landscape drain pipe but rather using the fabric to seperate potting mix from water in the reservoir? The weight of the potting mix pushes the fabric into the water to start the wicking action, right?

      • #9
        Jerry,
        I am only using 1/2 barrel per SIP. The drain pipe forms both the Reservoir and the support of the Aeration Platform. A soil wick is placed in the open spaces at the center of the reservoir. The wick is contained by a landscape fabric "pocket". The links in the Opening Post (OP) has several videos on the construction of barrel SIPs and the videos of Earth boxes has all the info on how they actually work. I posted my 30 gallon barrel SIP build last year, http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....1&postcount=25 but have revised it to reduce the planter size by ~ 10 gallons (to the current 1/2 barrels SIPs) instead of only 1 SIP per barrel there are now 2 per barrel.


        Ross,
        The website has some of the videos,http://www.fresh-group.com/heavy-pot-mover/4587790387 which includes that one, but the reason for my design approach was to utilize readily available materials and minimum specialized skills to fabricate this dolly. It definitely would be easier to fabricate with a welder, 3/4" or 1-1/2 welded angle iron frame for the plywood or steel platform, angle iron brackets for the axle mounts, 5/8" or 3/4" axle and wheels and a welded handle since it really doesn't need to be as "adjustable" as the commercial model. BTW the 24" by 36" size is a 'Standard' size and can also transport up to six 5 gallon buckets or six 7 gallon nursery Pots.
        Click image for larger version

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        As I mentioned in another topic the design is actually an existing commercially available product, A Low Tilt Bed Nursery Cart, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...0391#post20391. The original non adjustable Heavy Pot Mover was this (pictured) design, which would be much easier (simpler) to fabricate with a welder.
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        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          Ross,
          Here's a 2009 video of the fixed platform Heavy Pot Mover in action, https://youtu.be/FxZzVXsRZOA?t=132
          and instead of using force to tilt the platform level (like a regular hand truck) they have revised the loading to "walking" the pot to the center line above the wheels in all the newer videos, it works in actual practice and reduces the effort to load the pots on to the platform. Also the diamond plate deck surface would interfere with the pot sliding on and off the the platform.
          Last edited by AscPete; 05-27-2015, 10:57 PM.

      • #10
        The pot mover designs look interesting.
        Can you work on an elevator next so I can get pots bigger that 5g SIPs up and down my basement steps every spring and fall?
        Ed
        SW PA zone 6a

        Comment


      • #11
        Pete, one has to consider moving a large pot and can be very painful if tried moving one alone. I considered making one but I really don't have the time. Plus I got 50 or 60 trees that need to be repotted!!! So, I bought this one from harbor frieght a few months ago:
        http://www.harborfreight.com/extra-w...uck-66171.html

        It's do for now!
        Dennis
        Charlotte, NC /Zone 8a

        Comment


        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          My reason for building the pot mover was because I planned on moving them alone. I did look at that hand truck and the smaller "Big Wheeled" hand truck without the extension. The hand trucks work well, but they need much more force to pivot them when loaded and to balance the load compared to the platform dollies and tilt bed dollies. Also the simple design (a modified Platform Cart) takes only an hour or two to assemble.

      • #12
        Photo updates of the pot mover made for the 15 gallon SIPs (1/2 - 30 gallon barrels). The handles are still under test, but the wheel barrow style handles the most weight with the least effort, it can be used to move a 30 gallon barrel with 30 gallons of water easily over loose 3/4" gravel.
        You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 6 photos.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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        • #13
          I'm watching...I've been busy

          Nice, simple design....and it works...

          now...to re-pot them.....
          Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            I've been a little busy also and haven't had time to setup and test "real" wheel barrow handles, which would make for an even simpler build.

          • rusty hooks
            rusty hooks commented
            Editing a comment
            I like the balancing act...it takes the pressure off of our backs...a little "strap wrap" with a small boat winch could be worked into the stand for assistance in moving bigger pots into compliance....resistance is futile, "electrical", even better

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Don't plan on having any single pot heavier that ~150 lbs fully loaded, so have not planned on any heavy duty assist. They will also only travel ~ 100 feet maximum between storage and growing locations.

        • #14
          I've had some success this season transitioning 1 gallon plants into 5 gallon single bucket SIPs.
          The fabrication of these Single bucket SIPs was inspired by Alaska Grow buckets, http://www.alaskagrowbuckets.com/ in 2013, http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....55&postcount=9 except that there's only one row of 8 - 3/4 inch hole on the side of the bucket. The current and final modification was to simplify the build, it eliminates the reusable shopping bag and uses a piece of spun landscape fabric to screen the vent/drain holes to deter mosquitos and other insects. The potting mix used was Pine Bark Mulch - Peat - Calcined Clay (2-4-1 ratio). There was healthier root and vegetative growth throughout the season by all the fig cultivars in these single bucket SIPs.

          Easy SIP Build Instructions:

          The Colander SIP or 1 Bucket Easy SIP uses a 10" diameter Colander to form the Reservoir and Aeration Platform. The Spun Landscape Fabric forms a Pot Liner for root pruning, reducing root circling and the drain / vent screens. The planters soil volume is 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 gallons depending on the buckets used.

          Assembly and Planting steps:
          1. Approximately 4 inches up from bottom of bucket drill four to eight 3/4" holes equally spaced around the bucket. Carefully remove the handles of the 10" diameter colander with scissors, shears or saw. Check colander for fit inside bottom of bucket. Cut a 12 inch wide strip of spun landscape fabric (3 ft or 4 ft wide).

          2. Roll the landscape fabric into a tube and place inside the bucket, expand the tube until its flush to the side of the bucket. Place colander upside down inside the bottom of bucket, the colander locks the fabric in place at the bottom.

          3. Fill the bottom 6 inches of the bucket with potting mix (~ 2 inches higher that the bottom of the colander or aeration platform), place the 1 gallon plug (rootball) in the center then fill to the top with potting mix.
          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 11 photos.
          Last edited by AscPete; 11-15-2015, 04:14 PM. Reason: Added EasySIP build
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Jim,
            Yes, the build time and costs have been reduced, but only slightly.

            The multiple drain holes add improved aeration and increased 'air root pruning'. You could still add one hole as the drain overflow hole slightly below the 'ring' of holes, creating aeration holes and one drain/overflow hole, which can be connected to other SIPs for the 'common fill'

            Most SIPs have only one hole, but its been my experience that the added aeration increases root growth and overall vigor of the young fig trees.

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Jim,
            The following PDF shows the Alaska Grow Bucket installation and assembly, http://static1.squarespace.com/stati...OW+BUCKETS.pdf

            Their Picture Gallery, http://www.alaskagrowbuckets.com/grow-bucket-gallery/

            The float reservoir bucket can be tied directly into a faucet for fully automated watering of the SIPs. The fill connection (tubes) also function as the drain tubes for flushing and or draining (and draining for winter storage).

          • moonlight
            moonlight commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks AcsPete I don't thing it gets easier then that ! 🤔
            I am definitely doing that 🌱

        • #15
          A simple root pruning SIP
          https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...53932631384779

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for sharing you SIP design and build.

        • #16
          I made 4 half 55 gallon barrels in to sips just as an experiment and I really like them. Great growth and no issues. I plan on doing about 40 more that I can put down by the lake in an area that occasionally floods with water. Will set them up on cement blocks so as long as the water does not rise too high they will be unharmed by standing water.
          Plant sales are closed until further notice.

          Comment


          • Taverna78
            Taverna78 commented
            Editing a comment
            You have construction photo of pot on how you make?

        • #17
          Here is my implementation of AscPete's

          5-gallon 'upside down colander' SIP

          Materials Used:

          - 5 gallon food grade bucket (local hardware store; $7)
          - 10" colander, flipped upside down (I found a bulk source in Toronto for the perfect colanders 10", no handles, lots of small holes, and inexpensive; $1.50)
          - landscape fabric/cloth bag* (to line the inside of the bucket so that potting medium doesn't fall out the aeration holes drilled into the bucket; Dollar Store; $0.50)
          - Hose/Tube/Pipe (to be used as watering tube, I used flexible hose purchased at Home Depot; $2)
          - Garden wire (optional, I used it to secure the landscape fabric that I folder over the bucket to form a skirt, and to secure the tube prior to filling with potting mix; $0.10)

          Update:
          * As noted by AscPete landscape fabric should be "spun" to get root pruning benefits


          Method:

          1. Drill 8 larger holes (e.g. 1/2" drill bit) into the bucket 1/2" to 1" BELOW from where the top of the colander would sit when it is upside down inside the bucket. It is IMPORTANT to have an air gap between the top of the water reservoir and the top of you colander so that not all the soil area is sitting in water. The height of the lowest hole will be determine the size of the air gap between the reservoir and the top of the colander, as well as the water reservoir volume. You can always drill a lower hole, but it's not easy to plug one drilled too low. See my photos showing colander and water reservoir.

          TIP: An easy measuring guide is to put the colander beside the bucket on the same surface, place a marker or a sharp flat object on top of the colander when flipped over, and draw/etch a line into the bucket at the height of the colander.

          TIP: To drill clean holes into plastic, use a "step drill bit".


          2. Line the inside of the bucket with landscape fabric formed into a tube (or use a fabric bag) to prevent potting mix from draining out aeration holes. My landscape fabric was at least twice the height of the 14" tall 5 gallon bucket, so I was able to fold over the fabric so that it was lining the inside and outside of the bucket to form a skirt.


          3. Place the colander upside-down in the bottom of the bucket. If you're using a fabric bag, then the colander will be inside /over top of the bag and the potting mix will go directly on top of the colander and be in contact with it to allow roots to penetrate it to access the water reservoir.


          4. [Optional] Cut hose/pipe/tubing to height an inch or two higher than the intended height of the potting mix, and then also cut an angled notch (e.g. ~45' degree ) at the bottom to fit snugly against colander and to prevent blockage. I placed mine inside the potting area, but it can also be placed on the other side of the fabric between it and the inside of the bucket.


          5. Fill the bucket with a SIP appropriate PRE-MOISTENED potting mix, packing the mix densely into the area around the colander to form the wick but not compressing the remainder of the mix above the colander. See here for more details on SIP appropriate potting mixes: https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-h...ng-mix-recipes.

          TIP: The mix should be wet and pre-moistened to start wicking properly.


          6. Fill up the water reservoir with the watering tube (or top water) until water begins to drain out the aeration holes.
          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 13 photos.
          Last edited by FigsNorth; 05-29-2019, 10:48 AM.
          Archie (now in Winnipeg, MB! Wait, what? I'm in Zone 3?!)

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for sharing the photos and info on your sip build...

            The only issue that may cause some problem is the type of fabric liner in the SIP, it should be the Spun Landscape Fabric with random fibers. The perforated or woven type fabrics do not “Root Prune” nor prevent roots circling. The Landscape Fabric shopping bags are also not Spun Fabric and colander perforations should not be covered with poly, part of the design is that the roots will grow down into the reservoir, increasing feeder roots.

          • FigsNorth
            FigsNorth commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the feedback @AscPete.

            Landscape fabric: Good point. Yes, I don't think mine is "spun". I just used what I had available and mostly just to keep the mix from falling out the aeration holes and to cover the white exterior of the buckets. If I don't get root pruning then I'm probably not worse off than a conventional pot right? I will need to root prune.

            Aside, your spun lining looks very thin. Have you actually noticed it was able to root prune yet? And is it only the spun consistency that deters root circling or can thickness play a part even with non-spun fabric?

            Fabric bags: The fabric bags I have are quite thick and when combined with the landscape fabric I would hope they would contribute to root pruning. If I'm understanding correctly, I think the fabric just needs to create a suitable buffer between the plastic container wall and the potting mix so that the side wall is drier and doesn't retain suspended water, no?

            Colander Perforations: By poly do you mean landscape fabric? I don't think my colanders perforations are covered by anything. They are in direct contact with the potting mix and they have lots of small holes which will allow roots to penetrate. Are you seeing something different in my photos?

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            FigsNorth ,
            You're welcome.

            The spun fabric captures root tips which are then "air pruned" at the air gap that is formed between the fabric and bucket wall;
            https://treebag.com/potprunerdifference/

            Yes, the potting mix can be placed directly on the colander without any landscape fabric / poly covering the holes.The photos were OK, I misread the text in # 2... Sorry.

            The buckets can be used and will work without the landscape fabric liners (Root Pruner / Screens), but the reservoirs may quickly become mosquito breeding grounds.
            Last edited by AscPete; 05-29-2019, 10:37 AM.

        • #18
          Hi Everyone,

          I really appreciate this post on SIP's. I am making some 5 gallon SIP's and was thinking to add an inch or two of sand (really quartz filtration media since I have some) above the colander to add some weight to the bucket. Then I will fill the rest with peat/coir/perlite media mix.


          The sand will prevent the water from wicking up into the media, correct?

          Is that a problem?

          Stefan
          Virginia, Zone 6b

          Comment


          • FigsNorth
            FigsNorth commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, I think the sand might be a problem for wicking and it'll reduce your reservoir area. However I will defer to AscPete on
            the specifics. In any event, I also don't think you'll need it for ballast. If you keep the SIP topped up with water, you'll likely have sufficient weight. If you do add sand, I would do it underneath the colander so that the colander is sitting upside down on top of the bed of sand and adjust your aeration holes accordingly. This way you can pack the colander sides with potting mix like recommended.

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Grower ,
            Adding Sand will change the wicking ability / characteristic of the SIP. There is no way to predict how the SIP will perform with your proposed modifications, but you can perform tests of your design change. Good luck.

            Most SIPs are designed on the same principles as Earthbox;
            https://earthbox.com/how-earthbox-works/root-veg
            https://youtu.be/p2a3PK1SBvg

        • #19
          Thanks FigsNorth, yes I forgot the water would add weight.

          I might try a few and see how it goes but not bet the whole ranch on it.
          Virginia, Zone 6b

          Comment


          • FigsNorth
            FigsNorth commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, good idea to go slow and test. I think you'll have success if you follow designs that have worked for others. One important factor for the SIPs is your potting mix so just make sure you use a mix that is recommended or being used by others for SIPs (e.g. mostly peat moss based) and don't use heavy garden soil, compost, etc.

            Feel free to post here as you go and solicit feedback beforehand if you're unsure of any modifications you're considering. I'm sure others have thought through the same issues and can share their experience.
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