Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Ps.  This is a work in progress, updates will follow

This blog will be about my conversion of all of my traditional garden beds into wicking beds.  A shout out to Elaine's blog which got me thinking about the idea and Rob's you tube videos which really sold me on them.  I originally bought two 90 L x 45 h x 45 wide back in 4th week of December and placed them out in the front garden. This side faces north, so they get full sun all afternoon and figured that this would be a good trial position because if I could get stuff to grow here, it should work anywhere. 

The reason for the trial is because this has been the first summer that I have tried to keep up with the garden and it was HARD!! I ran out of tank water at the beginning of December and was using mains water (shhhhh... don't tell BCC :) but that wasn't the worst of my problem.  I just could not find enough time to get out there and water everything and do all the maintenance tasks as well.  Watering was taking me about 40 minutes every 2nd day and with 3 kids, animals and a full time job, it was getting too much but I was unwilling to invest so much money (and effort) in the conversion process if I wasn't sure the results would be worthwhile.  Below shows the bed 3 weeks  and 6 weeks(now) after planting and as you can see, the results are amazing!!!  The plants are so healthy,  I sometimes get home at 2 pm and there is absolutely no wilting of leaves.  Best of all, I fill these with water every 10 days or so.  That's it!! I put a hose down the fill pipe, walk away, do some weeding, come back in 5 min and done for another 10 days!

-> See the little melons developing..... If all the female flowers turn into  fruit, I will end up with about 16 melons from 2 plants!

My first cucumber has appeared and is nearly full grown.  There are loads of female melon flowers developing.  Another advantage that I hadn't thought of is less powdery mildew.  The Charentais melons are very susceptible to mildew.  So far, I haven't seen any signs of it.... whether its not watering from above or that by having constant water, it is healthier and therefor more resistant, who knows.

So, out to the back garden..... I have a total of 8 beds which I want to convert.  I have started on the first 4.  One major expense is the buying of the beds.  I found 180cm x 90 cm x 40 cm high beds at bunnings for $99 each.  By the time i buy sand ($32 ea), plastic ($6 ea) and slotted AG pipe ($33 ea) it's quite an expensive project.  I originally had timber planks lining each garden bed so when I get on to the other beds, I'm planning to try to make 40 cm high boxes out of the waste planks from the garden for the remaining 4 beds.  This does of course depend on my ability to wield tools successfully which remains to be seen :) 

-> These are the 3 already done.  I've cleared the space for the fourth but a) ran out of equipment & b) procrastinating till next weekend to get it done.  Into these I've planted 1) broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and green been seeds 2) zucchini, corn, shallots and coriander 3) Tomato's, white eggplant (only seedling that you can see) capsicum and silverbeet.

-> These are the remaining beds to be done.  I am reluctant to start these until my other beds are productive.  The 2 tomato varieties have kept me in tomato's for the last 6 months and silver beet is growing everywhere.  For that alone I want to wait until I can at least replace my supply.  They also have 2 eggplants and 3 capsicums that are doing great.

-> And this is the left over timber for converting the other four.

So my plan is to keep updating this blog as I go so I can keep track of any success/failures with the wicking beds and for anyone else who might be thinking about doing it can at least look at this and see if its worth it.  I am convinced it is but "the proof is in the pudding" as they say and you can judge for yourselves as this progresses. :)

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Comment by Lissa on February 5, 2014 at 6:14

Sounds like it's working well for you Susan. If I ever feel fit enough and have enough spare time on my hands I will (possibly) consider going to the trouble of digging out my three big beds and converting them.

I can't see the pics you refer to. Have they gone?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 5, 2014 at 5:41

Cool! You can buy a huge roll of slotted pipe, it's flexible and black and around 50mm in diameter. You can use just ordinary el cheepo potting mix for the reservoir, cheaper to buy and lighter to handle than sand.

You might like to put a link to this post on the Wicking Beds group, that way it doesn't get out of sight over time.

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