Wicking Bed Gardening for Drought Gardening

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    14-Aug-2015

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  1. 1. WickingBeds byTravisMitchell Ifyougardeninraisedbedsyou'veprobablyspentalotoftimewateringandthisyearprobablyevenmorethan usual.Raisedbedsofferthegardeneramyriadofadvantagesbutbeingwaterwiseisnotamongthem.Sowhat isthewaterconscioussquarefootgardendevoteetodo?Onesolutioniswickingbeds.Wickingbedstake advantageofsoil'sabilitytowickwaterupthroughcapillaryaction;thesameprocessthatoccurswhenyou sticktheendofaKleenexorpapertowelinwater.Inawickingbedthereisawaterreservoirunderneathin contactwithyoursoilorpottingmix,whichallowswateringofthegardenfrombelow. ApopularexampleofawickingbedsystemistheEarthBox,buttherearemanyDIYexamplesandnoreasonto limityourselfonlytocontainers.AttheDowntownFarmersGardenweareinthemiddleofreplacinga traditionalraisedbedwithawickingsystem.Thespecificationsforconstructingawickingbedvary,buta universalprincipleisthatwatercanonlywickeffectivelyuptoonefoot.Thedesignwesettledonstartswitha one-footdeephole,fourbyeightfeetwide,inwhichourtwo-foottallframewillrest.Next,alayerofweed barrierorgroundcloth(wemayaddsheetmetal,thickerclothorplywoodbelowthistoblockrootsfroma neighboringoaktree)islaidonthegroundanduptheedgestosmoothoutthesurfacefortheliner.Pondliners wereabitpriceysowedecidedon6milconstructionplasticsheetingwhichwewilldoublelayerincaseof punctures.Asix-inchlayerofgravel,orstonesalongwiththewateringpipeislaiddownwhichwillcomprisethe waterreservoir.Anotherlayerofgroundclothislaidatoptopreventsoilfromenteringthereservoirandthe sixinchesofsoil,whichwillactasthewickinglayer. Abovethewickinglayerdrainageholesareplacedtoallowescapeofexcesswater.InFlorid,heavyrainfallis commonplace,sowewillbedrillingampledrainageholestopreventflooding.Thenextlayerisshadeclothor anotherveryporousfabrictoallowwickingbutdiscouragerootsfromenteringwheretheyarelikelytoget drowned.Finally,theremainderofthebedisfilledwithsoil,inourcaseamixtureoftheGM2mixfromSoil EnrichmentProducts,andsomenativesoilwedisplaceddiggingourhole.Thesesystemsaregrowingin popularity,especiallyinaridregions,butarestillnewandlongtermseffectstothesoilandtheirdurabilityare notwelldocumented.ToseeamoredetailedaccountofthewickingbedattheDowntownFarmersGardenand followourothergardeningadventuresgotodowntownfarmersgarden.blogspot.comorfriendusonFacebook. http://www.sgaonline.org.au/?page_id=5533 http://permaculture.org.au/2011/06/20/from-the-bottom-up-a-diy-guide-to-wicking-beds/ http://www.theruralindependent.com/garden-projects/wicking-beds

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