September 8th, 2008
NOTE: I have moved this post to my other blog, Green-Change.com, as it fits in better with that blog’s theme of suburban sustainability. For futher updates check out Wicking Beds – Water Efficient Gardening.
A wicking garden bed uses a waterproof container or layer below the soil surface to form an underground reservoir of water. There is enough soil above the reservoir so that the plants don’t get “wet feet”. Plant roots then draw up this sub-surface water via capillary action.
Because they are watered from below, wicking beds lose very little water to evaporation. They are reportedly extremely water-efficient, and so are very well suited to low-rainfall areas (isn’t that most of Australia?!). You can also leave them for a week or two without any watering, and your plants will be fine.
This page aims to collect links to information on wicking beds:
- WaterRight Australia: Lots of really good info on wicking beds.
- Easy-Grow Vegetables: A spin-off site of WaterRight specifically about wicking bed technology.
- Scarecrow’s Garden: Documents one person’s experience and experiments with wicking beds in very dry inland Australia. There are several follow-up stories here documenting some great results.
- ALS Wicking Beds Forum Thread: Scarecrow (from the post above) answers lots of questions about wicking beds.
- Another ALS Thread: More info from Scarecrow.
- AusGarden Wicking Bed Forum Thread: Some more info and personal accounts.
- GardenGuides Photos: A good series of photos showing the construction of some wicking beds.
- CosmicConnection Forum Thread: Yet another forum thread, with some more good questions and answers by Scarecrow.
- Hills And Plains Seed Savers: Another post by Scarecrow, with some good photos and comparisons.
Wicking boxes are an adaptation of the wicking bed design to container gardening. Here are some links:
- Easy-Grow Boxes: A really good explanation of how to build wicking boxes from common materials like broccoli boxes, and getting worms to help you fertilise them.
- Scarecrow on Wicking Boxes: Again, using broccoli boxes.
- FoodNStuff: Another personal account, with follow-ups here and here.