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 Post subject: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 08:00 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I didn't see a Wicking Bed thread on a quick search so I thought I should start one.

For Mother's day we set up a couple raised wicking beds at the Cook's parent's place. Here are some pictures I too yesterday when we went to visit. Even with the extreme heat we had been having the tomatoes are producing and the cucumbers have been doing well along with everything else.

I do have those beds set up with automatic irrigation since I know they wouldn't stay happy otherwise.


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Wicking beeds surviving the heat (Medium).JPG
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vines from wicking beds (Medium).JPG
vines from wicking beds (Medium).JPG [ 101.46 KiB | Viewed 7722 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 10:56 
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These are mine, I first heard of them through TCLynx so cheers :cheers:

There were last filled with water 3 weeks ago and are still full, although it is winter and the plants are small so I assume they will use more water in summer.

I used recycled jarrah boards for the walls (free), lined with recycled carpet (free), then thick builders plastic 3.6 wide ($1 per meter), the reservoir was made using multiple lengths of 90mm and 50mm recycled PVC pipe (free) with slots cut into the underside and biscuits of hay to bulk it up (free/home grown). To separate the dirt from the reservoir I put recycled shade cloth (free) over the top of the pipe and hay. Bulk head fittings were bought for around $7 so all up a very inexpensive vegie garden and as you can see they seem to work so well I am building more.

The soil is a combination of about 50% top soil from my block as over burden from other earth works I was doing, 20% dirt/compost from the floor of the chicken run, 20% bought vegie mix soil, and 10% mushroom compost.


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SDC11177%20%28Medium%29.JPG
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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 14:48 
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Simo, they look realy great.

IMO I think a wicking bed is needed because every plant is not AP friendly,

http://www.aquaponics.net.au/forum/show ... cking+beds You will find a lot of BYAP members here too. Fish&Food has a great knowledge of these, as with most things. You tried that van out yet Milne?

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 15:02 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Agreed wicking beds are a good occupant to ap

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 20:37 
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My new project includes a set of wicking beds on one side of the greenhouse (the other side has the same number of beds but AP system).

A length of 90mm pipe (with 4 x 25mm holes 300mm apart cut along offset bottom) fitted with standpipe lays along the centre of the bed. This was covered with ~50mm of sugar cane mulch (SCM). I then experimented with the three beds: the far bed has a ~150mm layer of mixture sandy loam, SCM. B&B and chook manure, then covered with SCM; Centre bed is same mixture but uses garden mulch (GM) instead of SCM, covered with GM; Front bed is same as centre bed but covered with SCM/GM mixture.

At front of beds is a stack of four tyres that I'm going to use to plant spuds. Fill first tyre with SCM and plant seedlings. As plants reach height, add another tyre(s) and SCM. When ready to harvest, kick the whole lot over and pickup new crop of spuds.

Mal


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File comment: Building up the layers ....
tn_P1000264.JPG
tn_P1000264.JPG [ 131.84 KiB | Viewed 7628 times ]
File comment: My wicking beds ... including worm station on 3 beds.
tn_P1000278.JPG
tn_P1000278.JPG [ 109.59 KiB | Viewed 7617 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 4th, '10, 20:56 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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It has come to my attention that not everyone understands what wicking beds are. Here is the explanation I gave when one person asked me.

Quote:
I had to do some re-search myself when people started talking about them.
They are really just a method of making a planter that holds some extra water in the bottom for the plants.

Some people make them really fancy with piping running down in the bottom and inspection ports and some sort of fabric to keep the dirt from getting down in the bottom while others are really nothing more than a planting pot with the holes part way up the side of the pot instead of in the bottom.

There are also versions of wicking beds used in the ground. Some where the are simply sunk in the ground and the plants are planted directly in the bed rather like the above ground versions. Then there is the open wicking bed where the top edge of the liner is below the soil so that plants growing next to the wicking bed can access the moisture held down in the liner. This open method might be put to good use between rows of trees or bushes.

Mine are really just those water tanks cut in half and I put drainage holes about half way up on either end so the bottom 4 inches hold water. I filled the bottom of those beds with wood chips and then I simply put a mix of good potting mix and mushroom compost. There is a little section of drainage pipe sticking straight down in the middle of each bed so you can peek in and see if there is still water in the bottom or if it is drying out and needs to be watered again.

Hope that explains things a bit. It really isn't anything all that revolutionary, just some one has put a name to it and been marketing things like earth boxes that use similar methods so wicking beds have now become kinda a buz word.


If anyone else wants to expand on this explanation please do.

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 5th, '10, 05:10 
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I think you have nailed it pretty well

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 5th, '10, 11:45 
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Yep, a bit like a standard plant pot, with a saucer, except you make the saucer under the plant pot much deeper...

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 16th, '10, 07:13 
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Toying with the idea of a flood & drain wicking bed. Have to keep it under cover so rain does not leech the soil into the water. The idea is to F&D the gravel in the base. AP water is kept seperated but allowed to wick up into the soil or peat. Just like sitting a pot plant into a GB so it gets watered.

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 16th, '10, 09:26 
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I had an idea for a wicking bed. Let me know what you think please.

Using an old bath, a deep one.

Putting gravel in the bottom third like I have seen on certain web sites.

Using similar to the standpipe and cover in AP systems, just without the little hole near the bottom and shorter to come to the top of the gravel layer only.
When I was recently at Milnes (food&Fish) he showed me his standpipe. It was fixed at the bottom to an old plug with the centre cut out. This sat nicely in the baths drain hole and could be pulled out at any time for complete drainage.

So when water level fills to the top of the gravel layer any more will flow over the short standpipe and out of the drain.

You would top up with water by putting you hose to the side of the standpipe but inside the larger cover pipe which extends to the top of the surface soil. Or if that was too tricky, cap that pipe and put a filler pipe at the other end of the bath.

putting the weed mat or equivilent over the gravel and topping with your prefered soil.

Voila wicking bed in a bath!

Dale

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '10, 09:39 
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Here is a wicking bed I made out of one of the old lumber/liner beds I pulled out (was leaking some) Instead of simply ripping it apart and tossing it. I decided to put it to use as a wicking bed until if falls apart.

it is shallow (only about 6" deep) I simply put a 2" layer of wood chips/leaves in the bottom then we dumped a layer of mushroom compost over that and some potting soil we had around.
Attachment:
Wicking bed from old leaky grow bed (Medium).JPG
Wicking bed from old leaky grow bed (Medium).JPG [ 135.27 KiB | Viewed 7381 times ]


no fancy pipes or drains in it. I just screwed a fitting into the bulkhead that was left over from using it as a grow bed so that the bottom 1 1/2" doesn't drain. I also don't bother with any sort of weed barrier between the wood chips and soil in my wicking beds. I definitely don't waste gravel in them. I would rather let wood chips rot down in the bottom of them to become compost. Wood chips are free here, gravel is costly.

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '10, 10:04 
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Would this work in a half blue barrel
Please excuse the child like graphic :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '10, 10:17 
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I don't see why not

though I would personally use a large amount of compost mixed into the sandy loam. (Actually most of my wicking beds and plant containers are filled almost completely with compost and mulch and little/no actual soil. I just try to put the coarsest stuff on the bottom to allow the best drainage water resivuar. But I'm in a hot wet climate where mulch turns into rich planting media very quickly and if you don't keep adding compost and mulch to the soil you get plain sand pretty quickly since the microbes and bugs are really fast and active here and gobble down all the rich, rotting organic matter at an alarming rate.)

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '10, 10:33 
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Thanks, I have a compost bin in which the compost is nearly broken down but still has a lot of straw in it. I turned it on the weekend and found lots of worms in it which is good.
I could mix some of this with the loam.
Planning on these barrel beds being potato beds

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 Post subject: Re: Wicking Beds
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '10, 10:39 
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Heck, potato beds, I'd probably use only a small amount of compost/loam at the level where you plant the potato starts and then just top up with lots of straw and only a little compost and skip most of the dirt. Then next season the straw will be breaking down and you can mix in more compost/dirt after you harvest the potato crop. Growing potatoes while you compost the straw. But if you do it that way you might need to feed the plants with extra nutrients since the straw won't have much.

Anyway, don't take too much of my advise about potato growing though as my climate isn't very good for it and we have only been marginally successful growing spuds.

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