January 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm #491209
I was inspired by your work on Wicking IBC Garden beds.
I have made a few IBC wicking beds – 7 of them are still to be filled with media – but one test bed has been up and running for a couple of months with a crop of corn in it.
I cut the top off the IBC leaving them about 65cm tall (from memory – im not at home right now to measure) and install a 90mm PVC pipe with elbow and end caps with slots along the underside made with a grinder as a filling pipe. Overflow is a 20mm hole at the height of the gravel.
The test bed has about 20cm of 20mm size gravel, then a layer of shade cloth, then about 40cm of fully composted fine screened cow manure, topped with a layer of lucerne hay as a mulch.
The corn is growing well – but when I try to dig into the soil between the corn under the lucerne hay mulch cover, the soil is very compacted and hard and a bit dry. I have added some composting worms hoping they might break up the soil a bit.
I think the problem is due to me using 100% composted cow manure as the growing medium. I expected it to stay nice and fluffy like it was when I made the garden bed. Instead it has gone hard as a rock.
I also notice that the top layer of the soil seems pretty dry – I am not sure if the water is wicking as well as it should. Perhaps I should have mixed in lucerne hay with the composted cow manure? I have plenty of used lucerne as my goats end up sleeping on top of what they don’t eat.
I have been offered as much raw horse manure mixed with straw bedding as I can take for free – and I am thinking this might be a better medium for future beds.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
The use of composted cow manure and the compaction I am seeing.
The use of 20mm gravel verses Sand for the water storage area.
The potential use of the horse manure mixed with straw bedding for a growing medium.
Thanks in advance for any help you can offer before I go filling 7 more beds with media.January 6, 2012 at 12:19 am #491210
I’m not fishfood and I could not fill his boots but I did read something interesting on another forum I think, about wicking beds.
These people used stones like you and a thing called geotextile cloth that went from the bottom of the bed between the plastic and the stones and up through the middle of the stones and on top of the stones, between the stones and the soil. The reason given was that the cloth would act as a wick should the water level fall below the soil level.
Now that makes sense to me, I have a few wicking beds and I have noticed the disconnection of the water wicking when it falls below the soil level. Also I had trouble with the soil compacting and settling and the roots of the tomatoes dropping into the water zone and then nearly dieing of water logging.
Hope this helps and good luck.
ps Hi Fishfood, nearly ready to get the aquaponics up and running.January 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm #491211
Thanks Dayla. Now that makes a lot of sense! Thanks! As for the compaction I think it is because the composted screened cow manure is too fine. It needs larger chunks of organic matter to open up the soil.January 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm #491212
Hi, all this talk of wicking beds made me come back and have a re-read of this post of mine. And I found I have no pictures!
So here are some of my wicking beds now and at a previous house I lived in.
this one is a garden bed wicking bed. I dug down to the clay which was about 10cm below ground level. Laid out black plastic, some aggi pipe and a bit of PVC to stick up for filling up. covered the pipe work with shadecloth or old net curtain. and filled up with the soil I dug out. this was about to the surrounding soil level. so 10cm deep. I put in some old roof tiles to make the edge. They worked really well and I think look quite good. Then back filled with good soil and stuff, which was about 30cm worth on top of the reservoir. It was a really good bed and hardly needed any care just harvesting and a bit of weeding. The excess water seeped out between the tiles and no tree roots got in. Unfortunately I had to leave that bed behind only 1 year after making it. Hope the next tenants are enjoying it.
Next we have some box wicking beds I made up as a way to take plants with me but also some of the good soil I had created, to my new house.
These 3 shots are made from those plastic boxes our council used to use for recyclables before changing to the big bins. Great boxes, uv stable but with holes in the bottom.
So I put a sheet of black plastic in the bottom to make the reservoir. in with some small size aggie pipe and a piece of pvc for filling up. cover with net curtain. These ones I put stones in, scoria type, light weight. Then covering with net curtain and backfill with good soil.
I cut a hole in the side down low for the overflow. They work well and I have grown leeks in most, I have 7. Now some herbs are having a go. I have blueberries in 3 and have done ok, best not to dig them up, they don’t like disturbance.
And last of all that I have photos of is this waterwell planter box I found on the rubbish pile.
With this one I put black plastic in and allowed the end of it to protrude through the overflow that was already in it. I put in the usual pipe work and stones and when it overfills it just flows out over the plastic. I put some net curtain to stop any soil washing out.
I also found a cute painted watering can which had lost its spout. lined it with some net to keep the soil in and voila instant wicking bed. I didn’t bother with the pipe work for this one so not strictly to order but it works and the tarragon in it loves the extra moisture.
I don’t have any photos of the ones I originally talk about but I brought the ibcs with me and so am in the process of setting them up again.
I have made other garden bed ones but had to leave them behind with out photos.
So I hope the photos have uploaded. Doesn’t seem to be anyway to check?
DaylaJanuary 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm #491213
serendipity – Blue Wren, is looking at wicking beds, so good that these have been bumped up again
hope the next tennants did appreciate all the work in those first beds Dayla 🙂January 23, 2012 at 8:55 pm #491214
Yes, just reading this thread and thinking what great timimg.Will have to find some of that geotextile stuff – who uses it/sells it? Is it a building material?January 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm #491215
Just get it at the hardware and its only about $2.50 a metre.
DebJanuary 26, 2012 at 8:43 am #491216
Thanks Deb ……..! I wasn’t expecting it to be that simple!! :tup:
All you wicking bed experts – and I have yet to check out scarecrow’s wisdom – what have you found is the best medium for the water holding bit?January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm #491217
I have raised wicking beds and I use course blue metal.
DebJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:22 am #491218
Hi Blue Wren, I’m just in the middle of making my first wicking bed & bought geofabric at Reece Plumbing in Kingaroy today. They have it in 600mm wide, 1200mm & 2 mt wide. The 2 metre is $5.50 mt. It is called Drain Mat on their listings. I will test out it’s wicking ability tonight when I get home & will post how it goes 🙂January 28, 2012 at 8:54 am #491219
Wez post=336833 wrote: Hi Blue Wren, I’m just in the middle of making my first wicking bed & bought geofabric at Reece Plumbing in Kingaroy today. They have it in 600mm wide, 1200mm & 2 mt wide. The 2 metre is $5.50 mt. It is called Drain Mat on their listings. I will test out it’s wicking ability tonight when I get home & will post how it goes 🙂
Thanks so much! I went to the wrong shops in Kingaroy! Have pmd you.January 28, 2012 at 9:50 am #491220
I think I worked out how to send a pm 🙂January 28, 2012 at 11:41 am #491221
well………din’t even know we had a reece plumbing LOLJanuary 28, 2012 at 11:47 am #491222
🙂 Out near car yard & Hardly Normal-only fairly new-but hold off cos I’m not sure it is actually wicking! It definitely lets water flow straight through & stops fines from getting through, but I had also thought to use a piece to get water wicking from the bottom-my test piece isn’t doing any such thing as yetJanuary 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm #491223
Somebody on here did use something to wick up I think.I have a thick felty but thin underlayish sort of blanket that I nearly threw out recently.I wonder if something like that would work as a barrier and wicker? It may be what removalists use? I’ll get my bit out and test it.
(Me too Callie! I asked DH where it was and of course he knew!!)
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