Aussies Living Simply

wicking beds

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
  • Author
  • #244937

    Somewhere I have seen a detailed description with very clear photos of the making of wicking beds. The ones I saw had edgings made of sleepers, not wire or iron or bales. I’ve googled and searched every Oz garden site I can find to no avail. It wasn’t Scarecrow’s thread or log on these beds, tho hers are good. I thought for sure it must have been on ALS – where else would one get such clear information? – but can’t find it again. Can anyone help?


    Check Here Wicking Beds


    Hi maddyr :wave:

    Scarecrow’s blog has a step by step tutorial here if you click me

    Hope this helps, coz she rocks :metal:

    wickingly yours

    Doc πŸ˜‰


    Thanks all, but unfortunately I have seen these and they are not the ones I saw a couple of months ago, and which I am now looking for. Oh what it is to lose your mind as you gain the years!! Have no idea where I saw those pics.


    there was a discussion on wicking beds at Earth Garden forum πŸ˜‰ maybe it was there



    No, that’s not it but thank you, Ggang. It must have been in a magazine, but not Warm Earth as the photos were in colour. Darn it!! I don’t do frustration well.


    I’ve read some about wicking beds but am not sure how it really works.

    Does keeping plastic sheet under really helps? Does it means it works like a pond, but filled with earth? It would cost a lot of money putting lining in the beds? What difference does it make with putting dripping/seeping lines and using this method?

    Thanks… :hug:


    Hi Darls

    These are some notes that I hope will help you with your questions…

    The plastic sheet below the ground is to keep the water in a ‘pool’ that’s only 10 – 15 cms deep.

    I use sand in this layer.

    Roots of plants don’t grow in this layer because they don’t like being that wet.

    The idea is that it provides water to the growing area by a wicking process…water seeps upwards to the root zone and then this area dries out allowing oxygen to reach the roots of the plants.

    The idea is similar to the ‘self-watering pots’ but on a larger scale.

    It hasn’t cost us much money to put the five new beds in this year…just a bit of hard work…digging out the ‘pool’ area. We live on rock here. :noapprove:

    The plastic is just a black plastic from the hardware store at $2-3 per metre.

    The plastic drainage pipe worked out at $1.50 per metre but there are other ways to get the water down to the ‘pool’ area…like plastic bottles that reach down through the growing area.

    The difference with this system is that it waters from beneath…the very top layer remains dry with a mulch layer over it.

    The system maximises the use of water.

    I only need to fill the pipes once a week in the middle of our hot summers and have only filled them once over winter…any rain that falls stays within the system.

    There’s no danger of flooding in wetter areas because the water only stays within the plastic lined ‘pool’ area, the rest drains away.

    All water that is put into the bed is used by the plants…little evaporates…you only use what the plants transpire.

    Compost earthworms live within the growing medium (around 30-50cms ideally).

    These worms are fed in-situ and keep the area well nourished and aerated.

    Tree roots are also excluded from the growing areas..the main reason I have used this method, my fruit trees and local gums trees were stealing all the water I was using in the veg garden.

    I have found most plants grow much better on this system.

    On this thread I had a photo comparing the growth of Zucchini plants last year.

    I’m still experimenting with which veg grow well in the system.

    Why not start with a box system to get the feel of the system.

    Hi Maddyr

    I have seen articles in a few magazines and books (EG Home Farmer) lately if that helps but the Waterright people have put a couple of videos on YouTube recently that might be helpful:

    Introduction to Wicking Beds

    Wicking Beds and Global Warming


    Scarecrow, are you using shadecloth over the wicking beds too, or can they tolerate the full-on summer sun?


    Ok in keeping with ccBear’s signature, what is a wicking bed and what is it used for? This is from a learner gardener. 😐

    Cheers Tina


    Thanks for that, Scarecrow. That’s quite informative than some other sites offers.

    1. How much does lining need to cover from bottom to up? Or is it just to cover the bottom not the side?

    2. It would work better with corrugated iron than with brick walls? We plan to have brick walls for garden beds due to size and shape.

    3. We get quite enough rains (already over 1,000m by Aug – of course I’d rather share them with all over australia πŸ˜‰ ) so would it be bit more for those of drier areas? Or it applies to all areas – just musing…

    4. How deep does the ‘bottom’ part of the bed need to be buried – like you said you had to dig in – and how high is quite enough?

    Sorry many questions, it was something I wondered for a while so grabbing this opportunity to ask questions so I understand better.

    Sorry Maddyr for jumping in πŸ˜€

    Thanks! :hug:


    Good I like to have questions to answer…better than my babbling on with stuff that people don’t want to hear. :geek:

    Hi Tina

    If you have time please check out the Waterright site especially This Page on the History of wicking beds. They were started in Ethiopia so maybe they are better for dry areas (Darls Q3) but I think everyone should be making the best use of the water they get.

    Hi Creeker

    I do use shadecloth over the beds up here…I will be trialling some beds in a shade house setup with 50% shadecloth this year in an effort to keep the grasshoppers (and birds…chooks) out!

    Otherwise these beds have been put under trees (old Almonds and Gum trees) in areas where I previously couldn’t get anything to grow. As just about all my veg beds are shaded in summer I can’t really answer about the full sun aspect but the boxes and beds I’ve grown through winter have been in full sun.

    I think that the evaporative effects of full sun could perhaps lead to a salt build up and the heat may upset the system (worms etc).

    Hi Darls

    Q1.10-15cms seems to be deep enough for the ‘pool’ section. This also happens to be about as far down as I can easily dig…so I am raising the beds. The plastic goes on the bottom and up the sides to form this ‘pool’.

    Q2. Brick walls would be fine, you would need to add a drainage hole or two to allow the ‘pool’ to overflow in times of heavy rain (wow 1000mm so far this year…we’ve had 120mm πŸ™ )

    Q3. See Tina’s answer above…some folks have added charcoal to the bottom ‘wet’ layer in areas with higher rainfall. This could prevent that layer becoming ‘sour’.

    Q4. The ‘pool’ area could be put straight on the surface as long as it could be contained to hold the water.

    If they are made entirely ‘in-ground’ the excess water will still over-flow from the ‘pool’ area and into the surrounding soil or the beds can be set up to drain into another bed.

    Yes sorry for the hijack Maddyr but at least the thread’s called ‘wicking beds’ πŸ˜‰ should make future searches easy!

    More questions Please! πŸ˜€ Or am I confusing every one????


    don’t apologise! this is not hijacking, it’s excellent info, esp colin austin’s videos


    I am intending to build at least one wicking bed very very soon. I have lettuce growing in a Broccoli box that is a wicking box. I have been researching it quite a bit but have a question. If you use straw or such like in the pond part of the bed, does this breakdown over time and take away from the efficiency of the watering? :confused:


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.