What are Wicking Beds?

Picture credit: http://www.thedesertecho.com

Wicking beds. They seem to be the latest buzz in the gardening world. Great idea for conserving water in the summer months.

Know what they are?

I didn’t. Until very recently. Someone suggested we build our new garden beds as wicking beds, so I thought I had better find out what they were. You’ve probably already heard of them. If not, here’s my simple explanation.

Wicking beds are like a self-watering plant pot.

They water the plants from the bottom up.  It’s a system for lazy gardeners like me where you don’t have to water as often, and the water you do use is more effective.

From what I understand, the main gist of it is twofold –

1. There is a reservoir at the bottom of the garden bed to stop the water draining away – you could either line the bottom of the bed with black plastic or build the whole thing in a bathtub.

2. You need to get the water down there so it can wick up – often used is a pipe with holes in it, or ag pipe, along the bottom of the bed. The pipe will  have an elbow at the end, leading to the surface. This is what you pour water into.

This is the simple explanation, and there’s certainly a lot more to it – like having an overflow pipe so your wicking bed doesn’t turn into a swimming pool on extra rainy days. And why a layer of gravel on top of your pipe is useful, to give the soil a base on which to sit within the reservoir. And which way to face the holes in your pipe. (Do you know the answer to this already?).

We think it’s an idea of such wonderful efficiency that we’re going to dedicate some space to it in the magazine. Look out for a wicking bed article in Pip coming your way.

Do you have wicking beds at your place? How are they working for you?

We’d love to hear from you.

Emily Stokes

(PS The answer is – if you face the holes of your pipe downwards the roots of the plants cannot grow into the pipe!)

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