It’s been a couple of weeks now since Jake and I started our first wicking bed out of an old bath tub. I’ve read about it quite a lot – a very efficient means of keeping your plants well watered. The strawberries and chamomile are doing very well, to the point we’re going to have to thin them out a little! The picture gallery down the bottom shows the process we went through in setting this one up. Once we had gathered our supplies, it took Jake and I less than 1 hour to put together, including planting. Click here for step-by-step instructions on putting it all together.
What’s a wicking bed? Wicking, as the name suggests, draws (wicks) the water up from below, just like those self-watering pots you can buy at the garden centres. On paper the benefits of having self-watering garden beds is a win-win situation. So why would you not do it? Is there anything to be gained over installing a regular drip system or micro-sprays throughout your garden? Well in my humble opinion a wick system will win out every time and here’s why. $$$$ and ongoing maintenance… oh wait, there is no ongoing maintenance! Once the install is done, that’s it, nothing to do except monitor your water levels.
For a new garden bed, the effort involved is fairly minimal, but retro-fitting an existing bed would take a bit more work. I believe that the work involved would reap it’s rewards ten-fold come your first hot, dry summer.
One of the great things I love about this system is the simplicity and the fact that you can use a variety of items, new or old, mish-mash different things together and you won’t see it. The only bit you see is the single pipe you see coming up through the surface of the bed. This pipe serves two purposes, firstly it’s the means by which you water your bed and secondly it provides you with a visual access point to monitor the water level of your garden bed.
Child’s Play Permaculture has another good explanation of how it all works and this is basically what I followed for our bath-tub.
Depending upon the success of this one, we plan on adding more around the property for other perennial veges.