Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wicking Gardens

Some times I wonder if writing a weekly newsletter is a wise use of my time. I enjoy the variety but there's no measurable return on my investment. And then I get some gems!  Direct communication with gardeners and garden retailers produces an idea or challenge every now and then that I am sure would never otherwise come up.  I received this enquiry:

hi there,
just looked over your website. keen on purchasing a few of them (Magic Square Gardens), delivered and fully planted ... weighing up cost considerations BUT also ... wondering if you're able to set up a wicking bed system in them?? ...
look forwarding to hearing from you.
(Aj's website is worth a look, PD)

Wicking beds!  I hadn't even heard of wicking beds until 12 months ago when the Chelsea Heights Earth Carers asked for some plants to fill their one built into an old trailer.  The concept is simple, very effective and used extensively in the horticulture industry.  In its simplest form the wicking bed is going on a holiday and leaving your pot plants sitting on one end of a towel with the other end in a bucket of water or the bath. "Capillary action" draws the water up the towel to the pot plants. The growing media in the pot draws water up into the root zone by the same process.

Potted plant growers have been playing with this process for years now and there are many systems in use through the industry, some of them very technically advanced. The horticultural benefits are the reductions in water and nutrient use plus reduced disease risk because the foliage remains drier. The environmental benefits are obvious.

Take a look at Colin Austin's web site for details on wicking beds.  I have researched the wicking concept enough (asked the Earth Carers about their set up) to have decided that it suits our Magic Square Gardens perfectly and provides a passive water management option that sits comfortably beside the active, solar pump version offered by Waterwand.  Waterwand will hold significantly more water as it's clever reservoir is an open space as distinct to the sand filled bed used for wicking gardens.  

I'm keen to get feedback from anyone who has used a wicking bed system.  Please let me know why they are great, or otherwise.  I have to get cracking and put something together for Aj. 

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