Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

After having no luck with my other beds I decided that perhaps wicking beds are the better solution for my neglectful gardening habits. I decided to modify regular wicking beds and put in a reservoir to save money on media and increase water retention in the system.

I'm currently waiting for my seedlings to sprout so I can put them in. I'm also looking for a cheap supplier of black bird mesh because the possums and bush turkeys are my constant nemesis. Bunnings only seem to have the white. Being at the front of the house I think the black mesh will look a lot nicer.

Full details on the build here.

This shows how the water flows through the reservoir. The light blue is the water movement up the wicking media as it seeps through the geofabric.

Note: I am aware that white mesh is better for birds but it's location is in an area which isn't really a bird flightpath (Except marauding turkeys looking to dig). I use white netting throughout the back beds because it's much more open and a lot of birds congregate there.

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Comment by Cres on July 4, 2016 at 18:41

Hi Fisher ,
Sorry about the delay in answering. I'm not always on here.
So far no issues whatsoever. I have noticed about a 5-10cm drop in total height from top of the soil to the top lip of the IBC. I put it down to breakdown of the compost and the worms doing their work and just topped it up with manure/compost to the top of the bed. I've done this twice in 12months. I could be some perlite settlement but nothing of significance. (I doubt you'd get much though unless you're stamping on or constantly compacting the soil for some reason).

The drainage is perfectly fine. For perspective, I gave a friend one of the IBC halves and his bed sits on an apartment balcony in full sun with no shroud. This excessive light allows algae to bloom in his lower perlite layer. His reservoir is just AG Pipe covered in shadecloth and his overflow is narrower than mine (12-20mm dia irrigation hose). He's had no issues with blockages as yet although I still hassle him to shroud his bed. We did flood his wicking bed recently to drown the ants that had set up house in there. When we unkinked the overflow it drained just fine.

At around $30/bag it's infinitely cheaper and lighter than pebbles/scoria. Worst case scenario for you is that if you decide to use scoria in a year or so, you simply empty the perlite and topsoil into containers/tarp. Mix the two together and use as the new topsoil that can be added on top of your scoria setup. Perlite is often a large component of horticultural growing mixes so wouldn't be wasted if it became part of your new topsoil.

Comment by Fisher on May 24, 2016 at 20:26

Hey Cres I'm interested in how your Perlite as the bottom layer wicking medium has worked out. Has the Perlite degraded/turned into dust or have you had any problems with blockages down there?

I'm considering using it instead of the usual pebbles/scoria etc but would be interested to see how you've ventured.


Comment by Elaine de Saxe on August 17, 2014 at 20:45

There's a new member on BLF who might have the netting you are looking for. See

Comment by Cres on August 17, 2014 at 19:21

They look partly submerged because I live on a steep block of land. To make a flat bit of area I had to cut into the hillside. So no there's no reason. I mention it briefly on the second link to my site where if you have a flat bit of land just plonk it down and go.

Comment by Susan on August 13, 2014 at 20:59

Are they buried in the ground? Is there a reason for this? I'm curious as it is completely new set up to what I've seen before.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on August 7, 2014 at 16:36

Cool! They should work a treat. There are so many variations on the theme and they all work. This is one post about converting above-ground to wicking beds and this one is about putting together a commercial wb kit. There is a Wicking Bed Group on BLF you may be interested in joining.

In the absence of black bird netting perhaps some green plastic trellising might do the job. It used to be available in rolls of 10m plus but now is only in cut lengths at hardware stores. Or black shadecloth, 30 percent is available now at hardware stores and if it's similar to my 30pc, it's black.

Comment by Cres on August 7, 2014 at 13:49

Sorry I took it offline for a sec while I did some editing and forgot to put it back.

Comment by Lissa on August 7, 2014 at 5:36
I can't seem to see your blog post Cres. Is it still there?

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