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Guide to Wicking Beds: SGA

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 25th, 2010

Source: cuttings, the Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA) newsletter

From “Fully Wick Mate – Wicking Beds Explained“:

What Is a Wicking Bed and Why Would I Want One?

So, what in the world is a wicking bed? Well, as I explained to a colleague of mine, it’s essentially a giant “self watering pot” in the form of a garden bed. Okay, there is a fair bit more to it then that, but the idea is a garden bed designed to draw water up from a reservoir below, hence “wicking” through the soil directly to the roots. A system devised by Australian engineer Colin Austin, wicking garden beds (and wicking worm beds) are gaining popularity as a wonderfully water wise garden bed alternative.

Drawing water from a reservoir below the growing medium, wicking beds operate on the concept of capillary action, with the soil and plant roots drawing this water upwards as required. Essentially, this means that a properly constructed and maintained wicking bed should have nice, moist soil most of the time, with the roots accessing the water as they require it.

Wicking beds have a number of benefits, both environmentally and horticulturally. Firstly, it’s a fab set up for thirsty gardens (like vegie patches) in areas that have lower rainfall, or are affected by water restrictions. Wicking beds also deliver the water were it’s needed (the plant roots), which minimises water wastage, and can also help to reduce the risk of funky fungal foliage issues. Also, wicking beds are said to be more effective at sequestering atmospheric carbon then many other traditional types of garden bed set ups, meaning it’s a win for us, and the planet.”

Read the full article from the SGA to find out more – including diagrams and feedback in the comments section.  Also check out Sustainable Cities Net for container & vertical gardening in Mexico City.

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