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Wicking Bed DIY Kits

We have been watching with keen interest the momentum this wonderful technology is gaining with gardeners who are environmentally conscious. The 'Wicking' system is designed for climates who experience erratic rainfall, which in Australia at present is an understatement! To catch the rain when it falls and then to store it for the dry periods.

How it works

The wicking bed system is a way of growing plants in which water wicks up from an artificially created water reservoir. A impervious liner is used to contain the water, as rain falls, any excess will drain through to fill the reservoir. A PVC pipe is used to replenish the water to the reservoir by hand if needed. A 300mm dense medium such as scoria fills the reservoir and becomes saturated and sits within the water reservoir. This acts as a supporting base for the soil to be placed above it. At this 300mm level an overflow outlet is fitted to move any excess water out of the reservoir and stop potential flooding. A layer of geo-textile is place on top of the scoria and up the sides of the bed to stop any soil contaminating the reservoir and blocking the PVC pipe. The soil is then placed above the geo-textile and planted as a normal garden bed. Fill the reservoir by hand and from this point the roots of the plant draw water upwards from the reservoir.

Benefits of the Raised Wicking Bed system

  • Reduces water usage by up to 50% while increasing plant growth
  • Little or no water evaporation with efficient water use.
  • Watering not effected by windy conditions
  • The conditions inside the wicking bed provide conditions in which micro biological activity can flourish and help regenerate the soil giving you better soil.
  • Faster growing and healthier vegetables
  • Can leave your self watering bed whilst on holidays or long absences
  • Can be used as a rain garden and plumbed into a small roof area ie. garden shed, cubby house.
  • Absolutely no digging required to make the reservoir

Brief history the Wicking Bed

Colin Austin was a successful Western Australian businessman who became increasingly concerned about environmental issues.

In the late seventies Australia suffered a series of dramatic dust storms losing millions of tons of top soil.  He saw the loss of top soil as a major threat and started a series of experiments to learn how to regenerated soil. His research activities lead to an invitation by World Vision to go to Africa to see if he could work out a way that local people could grow successful crops in areas that experience periodic droughts and erratic rainfall.

Colin Austin developed a unique system called the 'wicking bed' which essentially stored the rain water when it fell and was able to harvest it and store it for plants to use over periods of drought. This has enabled many villages to successfully plant, grow and harvest vital crops.

 

Testing our new Wicking bed

We have been testing our Wicking kit for a few months now with the assistance of Bulleen Art and Garden and SGA accredited Landscaper Edible Eden Designs. We have had huge success and have been able to test some new theories. (But more on that later). Below are some installation shots.

Step One - Fitting the Liner

 

Step Two - Installing the overflow fitting

 

 

Step Three - Fitting the PVC pipe and filling reservoir with screenings

 

 

Step Four - Fitting the Geo-textile above the reservoir

 

 

Step Five - Finally filling the Wicking Bed with Veggie Mix

 

 

Step Six - Making sure the Geo-textile is 'tucked in' around the pipe

 

 

Step Seven - Tapping on the rubber edging to hold liner and Geo-textile

 

 

End Result - A bed ready to supply us an abundance of fresh vegetables