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Wicking beds-best option?

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  • #253823
    porgey
    Member

    Wicking beds seem like a great idea but are they cheaper & use less water?

    If you build two raised beds from the same materials but fill one completely with a soil mix & dripline on top and the other with a wicking bed set up which is more frugal. Certainly the initial cost saving of the dripline option is far superior. From my veggie garden experience dripline uses very little water and its direct flow onto the soil wastes no water (unlike sprays). Add to this the application of mulch on top & plant growth and there is very little evaporative loss.

    Wicking beds are no doubt superior in that there is no evaporative loss but considering there greater cost and the fact that dripline evaporative loss is miniscule, to me wicking beds are not as great as there proponents advocate.

    What are peoples thoughts on this matter?

    #483931
    calliecat
    Participant

    going to test it with the gravity fed hose and will let you know what I think – could be another option for me but not sure

    the water has to travel at least 40mtrs, plus uphill to the top of the bed

    well there you go, didn’t even try before, just assumed it wouldn’t work – it works fine, so might just get them all out of retirement

    gee, between the post this morning and this one, I’m feeling more and more stupid as the day goes on

    #483932
    Fishfood
    Member

    Wicking beds constructed properly there is no evaporation also there is water there when the plants need it not when you think they need it using a drip line the top few inches gets wet and evaporates

    Unless you are there all the time how do you know when the plants need water

    With wicking beds you only need to check every few days just look down the pipe

    do your self a favour and construct one wicking bed then do one exactley the same same dirt everything except the plastic bottom

    #483933
    karyn26
    Member

    I find the wicking bedds work best for me. I do shift work so I dont have to remind hubby to water the veg though I do have a ground veg patch and I need to remind him to water that one or he can over-water.

    I have even gone away and the wicking beds didnt need looking after.

    Guess it’s what suits/works for one may night be suitable for another.

    We reused materials we already had or paid a couple of bucks for some old fridges from the tip we make our own compost.

    the first wicking beds we had to buy the plastic and the piping,

    Our water bill has been less than normal also but then it has rained a lot,so this summer willbe the test of the wicking beds.

    As for watering it doesnt need to be done as often.

    #483934
    calliecat
    Participant

    I still think wicking beds are the way to go, but with all my tubs now full, don’t want to disturb them so will use the dripper lines till they are empty and then I can turn them into wicking beds

    that is if I can find some hardy plastic, the guy at Mitre 10 here, looked at me funny when I asked for builders plastic,

    maybe they use a different name for it

    #483935
    Judi B
    Keymaster

    I want to try wicking beds because we have shocking clay soil and any moisture gets sucked straight down and sent to China :laugh: I have cracks in the ground here that go for several metres and up to a metre deep in places and they can be 5cm wide so any water that is on the suface just vanishes.

    I have the plastic but can’t decide what to put under the plastic to stop spiders cutting holes in it….. I might try some corro iron:unsure:

    calliecat DH bought it to put under the concrete so I have to sneak a bit off.

    #483936
    calliecat
    Participant

    yeah, I asked for builders plastic, got a funny look and he then said well plastic is plastic and they use this for concrete, – you’d think he would realise it means the same thing, but couldn’t get the rest of the stuff,so no point getting that

    all I get from there is funny looks whenever I ask for something – and everyone on here has the things I’m asking for, so can’t be that hard LOL

    haven’t even mentioned the stoppers for the ends yet

    #483937
    Hayley
    Member

    we didn’t do the full on ‘proper’ wicking beds, but they work just as well! We got old apple crates for free, lined with plastic, filled with a mix of stones, straw, compost, chook yard scrapings and dirt from other parts of the garden. So the only cost was the transport of the crates and the plastic liner.

    We did it because the area the vegie garden is in has nearby pine trees, which suck everything out of the soil; so we definitely needed a barrier. Working wonderfully!

    #483938
    karyn26
    Member

    JudyB we put carpet underlay under our plastic incase there were any stones we missed, a forage at the tip got us that,old carpet would also work.

    calliecat aske for thick plastic and if they still dont know then go some where else,

    dont know where we got ours ,do you have a bunnings they may have what you want.

    For stoppers we just put a small jar over the end of the pipe and silastic to stop any leaks.Works fine.

    #483939
    calliecat
    Participant

    nearest bunnings is 150ks away, and thanks for the jars tip 🙂

    #483940
    karyn26
    Member

    Your welcome calliecat ,when huby went for the stoppers they wanted a stupid amount of money for them, so being the ever clever penny pincher he is he dreamed up the jars.That’s why he does the shopping and I dont.

    calliecat do you have access to the local tip or somewhere you can source old fridges/freezers you dont need plastic if you fill up the holes inside or as bluezbandit has done still lines them with plastic but you dont need the heavy duty stuff.

    if you dont like the look of them fridges screen them off.

    good luck with whatever you decide.

    #483941
    Wombat
    Member

    Wicking beds do seem to work well, but at the moment we are getting so much rain I can just drop a seed on top of the ground and by lunch time we have a plant!:laugh:

    Nev

    #483942
    calliecat
    Participant

    karyn26 post=297165 wrote: Your welcome calliecat ,when huby went for the stoppers they wanted a stupid amount of money for them, so being the ever clever penny pincher he is he dreamed up the jars.That’s why he does the shopping and I dont.

    calliecat do you have access to the local tip or somewhere you can source old fridges/freezers you dont need plastic if you fill up the holes inside or as bluezbandit has done still lines them with plastic but you dont need the heavy duty stuff.

    if you dont like the look of them fridges screen them off.

    good luck with whatever you decide.

    I’ve got 6 bath tubs, so fridges wouldn’t bother me LOL

    but the tip is 6ks away, and don’t have any means of getting them here, but the bath tubs are ample for me at the moment,

    it’s just that I ask for things that I hear about on here, and get nothing but funny looks from the ‘guys’ in the shop LOL

    sure they think I’m just some stupid women talking thru a hole in her head 😆

    at one time they asked what it was all for, I told them wicking beds ………… well – the looks I got then :laugh: :laugh:

    #483943
    porgey
    Member

    I think the idea behind wicking beds is great. The best feature being that you can ‘set and forget’ the water, for a few days at least. Add a ball cock from an old dunny and you can lay back in your shaddie summer hammock, stroll along the beach, go to work, stay away for a long weekend, shag your sheila, and generally not concern yourself with the thought that your veggies might be drying out. Add to this the fact that there is no evaporative loss like from overhead watering and you are on a winner.

    If you make it yourself from free or cheap parts then its a real dandy. However, the dripline that I use is cheaper ($10 per 5 square meter bed), can be laid directly onto the soil with no deep digging or exertion, carries surface applied manures & compost into the soil and losses a miniscule amount of water to evaporation. In addition you can keep complete (rain dependent) control of your water application thus assisting with beneficial deep root growth and all the advantages that entails.

    But surface and covered dripline can be a pain in the ring ding as you have to work around it and its prone to puncture/severing which can waste water & veggies if left unchecked. Repairs do require new parts and can be annoying.

    Therefore I find the advantages & disadvantages of both dripline and wicking beds to nullify each other making it a dead heat and more over thinking from an indecisive porgey. But as I love making things for nothing from scrounged “waste” my next garden bed will certainly be a wicking bed especially for shallow rooted veggies where the reservoir is close to the soil surface.

    #483944

    Being in Perth the biggest advantage in wicking beds is that the water and all nutrients that move through the soil are recycled in the system instead of leaching out into the very porous sand below.

    This is soil specific but Wicking beds are very effective for Perth sandy soil, it is far better than drip irrigation as the water still just drains away if you do a lot or drys out in 1 day if you do a small amount.

    There are disadvantages, your long rooted veges dont turn out so well, carrots, parsnips, mangawurstle, burdock, etc. But it is easy enough to save these for the beds that are deeper with drip irrigation or do some lasagne raised beds for these that are also very good at holding water and nutrients.

    So my opinion is they can be watered once a week in summer, they recycle your nutrients and water, you can add a worm farm for extra biology, you can use compost worms as the bed is always wet and fertile, and when you want to you can leave the top of the beds unmulched and given it is wet all the time you get lots of free selfseeding plants to plant out or remove as you wish. This self seeding will not occurs in a drip system and the surface of the soil drys out and the seedlings die.

    Anyway just my 5c as always its about experimentation, easiest raised beds in have seen 8 stakes, 1 sheet of old shadecloth made into a hammock on the stakes, line with a small dam of 200micron plastic, add you pipe, and water holding medium then pile in the soil. Note this drys out much faster and is better for less dry higher rainfall areas, especially tropics and areas will clay soil/poor drainage.

    On the question of plastic, as for 200micron thickness, or go to a rural supplier and ask for dam liner, it is expensive but will last years and is less prone to puncture.

    Cheers,

    Charles Otway

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