Wicking Beds 101

Written By Little Veggie Patch Co - October 01 2019


Bill Hawkes
March 15 2020

I need to know if sand for my wicker planter boxes is better than gravel? I should imagine that sand would be much better because of its density for capillary action. Am I on track?
Thank you..

Peter Marsh
November 21 2019

Hi, we liked the idea of wicking beds but thought of building ones that were high enough to easily work when we were older and more frail. This meant about 850mm high on an IBC with a lid cut down about 150mm. Usually people cut an IBC in half to get two 500mm high units. Anyway, we now had tall units and had about 600mm to fill with the water reservoir and wicking material. Because scoria is quite expensive, we wanted an alternative method to create the water space. We decided on using upturned milk crates, cut to fill the bottom and covered with a layer of geotextile. Hessian bands were run over several ribs to promote wicking within the middle of the crates. A thin layer of scoria was placed on top of the geotextile {100mm} and a second later of geotextile added to prevent mixing of the soil with the scoria. Adding 300mm of soil and we were ready for action.

I laid three IBC’s together and plumbed them so that all three share one inlet and one outlet. This sounds complicated in construction but in use will make life very simple.

The progress has been nothing but stunning. Plant growth has been far better than expected. Tomatoes were planted late October and my guess is that we will have some around Christmas. In the ground, the best we can get is Tomatoes around mid February.

I can’t praise the concept of wicking beds enough but suggest you think outside the box {no pun intended} to get something even better, just like we did. Happy gardening.

October 25 2019

Hi there, thanks for your informative article. I was especially interested in the point about turning the soil over prior to new planting. In my beds I have had a lot of settling of the soil and the level keeps sinking lower. Do you recommend keeping to the rule of 30cm of scoria and then 30 cm of soil which I have read is the outer limit of wicking ability? Thanks again, Carolyn

Marzia Magris
October 25 2019

Can you tailor the size to a longer rectangular bed rather than square?

October 25 2019

Hi, I was looking into your wicking beds and have a question on the liner. What do you use to line the wicking bed ? Is it a special kind of plastic? And if so, where do you get it from?

Thank you

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