Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Just a preliminary post to ask if there's enough interest on BLF to have a dedicated section (a Group seems to fit the bill) on Wicking beds. Or bins or buckets or self-watering pots, call them what you will.

The original popularising of the self-watering-pot-on-steroids idea was Colin Austin's. Go to his Waterright site for a great deal of information. He's re-organising the site just now and navigation can be a touch tricky. But there are links and sites by people who are experimenting with them all over the world.

I recall 'self-watering pots' back in the early '80s. They didn't have the overflow hole that they have now and couldn't be left out in all weathers. The overflow hole is the absolute trick to these beds (read 'pots'. 'bins', 'buckets' or any other container).

From around 4 years experience with variations on the wicking bed theme, I can say without doubt that plants do not drown in wicking beds. My observations have lead me to conclude that the reverse is true: plants die in pots with too many drainage holes. Even in this area of Queensland's rainiest times, no plant has rotted in my wicking beds but plenty had died in ordinary above-ground beds especially on the slope and with tree-roots invading.

I may fancy myself as the Queen of Wicking Beds ;-) the reality is I'm keen to hear from others on this forum who have had or do have or are even thinking about wicking beds. An exchange of information is what this site is all about.

A search of this site for 'wicking' yields 25 pages of info and will give links to several posts and many photos and comments about the subject.

As no one system is perfect, there's times when wicking beds will be appropriate and times when they would not suit the circumstances.

And to answer Rob's comment about organic material rotting in the water reservoir: strictly the answer is "I do not know" - I've used the potting mix and for the first time coarse coir in the reservoir. Other people will have other experiences. I believe that you do not need a 'wick' as such as the mix above the reservoir does the wicking by capilliary action. Anyone with the proper scientific terminology, please explain exactly how it works! I know it does but not the 'why'.

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Comment by Jane on November 11, 2013 at 18:39

will be listning in to learn more as I have not tried wicking beds, rather spoilt by a large dam used for irrigation.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on November 11, 2013 at 14:36

The Group is up and running Valerie-Anne!

Comment by Valerie on November 11, 2013 at 13:32
We have just finished building and filling ours. Pics to be posted soon. There are a few decisions to be made along the way so planning is always good. Shoveling over a ton of gravel is not something I want to do again too soon. Cross fingers we made the right decisions. A group sounds really good!
Comment by Andrew Cumberland on November 10, 2013 at 20:59

I was hoping you'd say that Elaine. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on November 10, 2013 at 20:43

Aquaponics and Wicking Beds are both variations on the 'almost-closed-system' type of growing, something fairly new to we old-fashioned gardeners ;-) OK, there's some interest so we'll go ahead and see how it goes.

Comment by Liz Pardede on November 10, 2013 at 19:30
I would also be interested - we are completing starting afresh next year so if I can learn these things ahead of time... All the better
Comment by Andrew Cumberland on November 10, 2013 at 18:03

I'd join.  Now that I have seen how much better the aquaponic stuff grows, I've become interested in converting my normal vege patch to wicking. 

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