Planter boxes and raised planters are getting more popular by the day, but the downfall of raised beds is their requirement for heavy amounts of water. A raised wicking bed on the other hand is super water efficient and your plants will love you for it!
Wicking garden beds store water within their base so the soil can absorb what it needs while eliminating runoff or evaporation, they also catch and retain water when it rains. Wicking beds really come into their own in drought conditions thanks to their water catching and retention capabilities, but they are equally useful for low maintenance gardeners as they can be filled up and then left for a period of time with no further watering required.
Here's a simple way to make a wicking garden bed at home.
- Buy or build a raised garden bed then line with thick plastic. Apple crates and IBC containers make great raised garden bed structures.
- Lay PVC pipe across the base of your bed. This needs holes drilled into it to allow water flow. Connect the pipe at a right angled bend and continue to the top of the bed. Alternatively Agpipe with holes in it will work too.
- Fill to 30-40cm from the top with Scorria (stones). Be careful when filling the bed not to tear the plastic. Drill through the side of the bed and insert a piece of pipe as an overflow to allow excess water to drain off just above the level of Scorria.
- Add a layer of geotech fabric to prevent the soil from muddying the water.
- Fill to the top with good quality veggie growing soil then fill the bed with water down the protruding pipe until water is coming out of the overflow.
- Plant out the bed with your favourite herbs or veg. Remember to mulch. The beds will then ‘wick’ water from the reservoir at the base of the bed and will only need filling when the water has all been used up (regularity of refilling will depend on the size of your planter, weather conditions and what you're growing).
And there you have it, a simple, yet super water efficient garden bed!