ʜᴏᴡ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇ ᴀ ᴀᴘᴘʟᴇ ᴄʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴡɪᴄᴋɪɴɢ ʙᴇᴅ ꜰᴏʀ (ᴀʟᴍᴏꜱᴛ) ꜰʀᴇᴇ!

The wicking beds have been so successful over the last two years that I just HAVE to make more of them where I can. You can read my earlier posts on wicking beds [here() where I detail making them out of water storage containers. I've also made them in bath tubs and metal troughs. In this post, I describe making one out of an old apple crate which sometimes you can find for free. We had one lying around behind the shed, so I decided I'd give this a go, though we're a bit broke at the moment and I can't really afford materials!

Firstly, I lined the crate with plastic doubled over. It has to be very thick plastic otherwise one pinprick can make the whole exercise pointless, draining any water out from the bottom reservoir. I then lined it with cardboard. This will rot away, but it stops the harder materials piercing the plastic to begin with.

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Normally, you'd use about 200 mm of gravel in the bottom as a water reservoir. Whilst it seems weird to use gravel, the gaps in between hold the water, and the soil 'wicks' the water up from below, soaking it up like a sponge to feed the plants moisture. This time I couldn't afford the gravel, and we couldn't source any free stuff. What I did have is a pile of broken bricks, so I thought that if i stacked them on their side, the water would still flow between them and form the water reservoir. Wicking beds are not an artform - they're largely experimental and as yet no one has found the be and all end all perfect formula. Thus, I had faith that this experiment was going to work, as it was following the basic premise of providing a water reservoir at the bottom. Like a self watering plant pot.

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Next was to put a tank outlet in, siliconing it on one side to seal it. It will have an elbow and a pipe attached to it like the photo on the right. This is to help adjust the water level. In dry weather, you want the water to stay in, but in wet weather, you want to be able to drain it out.

Now here's where thing get a little crazy. Have you heard of huegelculture? It involved piling up rotting wood which acts as a sponge to hold water, with the added benefit of adding mycellium to the mix. Given the height of the bricks wasn't going to make the reservoir as deep as I wanted it, I thought that the added wood would provide the extra moisture the plants might need. I'll fill this up with soil, then compost. I have a *half* rotted pile that I'll let sit for the rest of winter and spring in situ in the crate for the worms to break down.

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This is all experimental, but it should provide a water wise plant bed which I hope to grow herbs in that struggle in the Australian summer heat. I have nothing to lose but time and some hard work - and everything to gain when herbs and vegetables thrive in the heat of summer by having a moisture source underneath them. Here's hoping!

With Love,

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Hugelkultur wicking bed, huh? That could be an interesting comparison with standard ones. I recently watched a video on a guy who does the hugelkultur approach with standard raised planters and found that worked week for him. Not sure which state he was in, though. Would it work in our dry, blistering summers, I wonder.

I dont know, or with our wood? Most of the stuff I've thrown in is eucalypt or Wattle, but it's damp and shroomy so I reckon it shpuld be okay. There's not much info on Aussie wicking/hugelculture so it's all an experiment. No doubt I'll let you know come summer. I'm pleased to throw a half done compost pile in there so I can have room for more. More compost!!!

What's an apple crate?! Never seen one... Matter of fact, I've never seen a metal trough... I suppose the kind USofA folk just toss around the place constantly? I've also never seen a bath tub laying about, discarded. What I would really like is a tutorial or a how to in a third world country :D Where there are NO treasure troves, "dips", "dumps", "contractor sites", etc. Where each pallet is a target of fierce competition by several groups that hoard and then sell them on outrageous prices. Where each piece of scrap wood is used for heating. Where the only wild fruit left "un-foraged" are the totally inedible ones.

I enjoy watching this family https://www.facebook.com/artistasfamily/ but if you watch their videos or their features in several films, you hear a constant stream of entitlement. Their whole scheme would instantly fall apart in a country such as ours. "We found that by the side of the road", "we got that from the tip", "our house was made from scrap materials from other building sites", "we forage this and that", etc, etc, etc.

It's a source of constant wonder to me how much folks in better off countries must have to just throw away so much valuable stuff.

Thanks for your comment, putting everything in perspective. HIVE does that. But we try our best - it's not our fault we live in entitled, throw away societies, and we try our best to redress the balance by repurposing what's discarded and spreading awareness of the idiocy of consumerism..I know that family, they do good work.

I'm not in US by the way. I'm in Australia. Funnily enough, they dont live far from me!!!

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That's really innovative! I reckon you could probably use an old wooden palette in a similar manner... or perhaps not one but two stacked, with one of the bases removed. Man I cannot wait to get stuck into the garden again... am so sick of having frozen toes and living indoors lol. !tip

Ps. Your first post reference link is not working, just so you are aware.

Oh yeah I saw that.. I must have got distracted by gardening and forhot to add it. If you are interested I can hunt it down for you later.

Oh it must be tough being indoors all the time. After being trapped in hotel quarantine with no fresh air or natural light I am adverse to being inside at all!!!!

May you get gardening soon. Thanks for stopping by!

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If you are interested I can hunt it down for you later.

Yeah that would be great :)

Oh it must be tough being indoors all the time. After being trapped in hotel quarantine with no fresh air or natural light I am adverse to being inside at all!!!!

I can think of two words... it blows! haha! As for your experience, I imagine I would feel very much the same!

Cool beans! Thanks :)

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Also made some wicking beds recently. They're doing great, so much green for so little effort. Except a rat is eating the broccoli. But only the broccoli, so no broccoli. It's great it doesn't eat kale, coriander, basil, rocket or chilli. Lol

Hahaha a picky rat! I can see they wouldn't eat chilli but the once. Did you post about the wicking beds?

I have not posted about them no. I just used old sleepers that were used for a traditional garden bed then lined the bottom with builder's plastic, I filled half up with sand and covered that layer with old clothes cut up, then put manure and dark soil on top for the planting. Everything seems really happy.

I did not put a tap on mine to empty it entirely, I realise this may be a dilemma, but a dilemma to be faced for another day.

Anyways, happy gardening!

Wow, that sounds like a great idea, using sleepers! They jsut replaced the sleepers on the railway line behind mine with concrete ones, but they took the wood ones away fast - last time they left them, the entire town came and stole them all haha.

Yeah, see how you go with no tap. I heard that in teh winter it gets a bit smelly if you don't drain it but you may find that's not the case.

Yeah, I'll see what happens.

This looks like effort well invested @riverflows! You cite it being experimental, but seems like your wicked bed is based upon "tried and true" technology. Looks like what we have in our backyard, which are called Earth boxes. In the summer heat we are having, we have to add water twice a day - once in the morning and once later in the afternoon.

Hope it produces an abundance of herbs for you!


P.S. Your link, in the beginning, tied to other posts you had in mind in support of this one is unfinished ...

Thanks for the link heads up. I must redress it.. I was pulled back into the garden!! Have you posted about the Earth beds? How do they work? I found the other wicking beds only need watering once a week, even in hot weather. I love them!! In fact in summer I don't bother with the rest of the beds, just let them rest and let the chooks pick them over..

  ·  last month (edited)

No, I have not written about them. Here is a link to their website, as it is a product you buy. We've had two of them for years and they are very effective for small spaces. Once built, you simply stick your hose in a tube, which directs the water into the reservoir down underneath the plants. Then water is wicked up into the soil, as you show ...

Yours here in this post is much more resourceful. Amazing if you only need water them once a week! 👏

Funny, as you were mentioning the gravel and bricks I thought I wonder if you could do that with a hugelkultur type setup. Then along comes @riverflows and bam! hugelwickingbed.

@nateonsteemit I did think of you the entire time I was making this!!! Boo-ya!

This is a great idea in an arid climate - so useful! (I do worry about the chemicals from the wood crate and the plastic leaching into the veggies tho!). Def NOT in option here in the tropical world - one rain deluge and you'd have a mud bath. Constantly amazed how much we have to create LOCAL solutions and support each other in those. Great post for dry climate zones, @riverflows.

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Yes, I worry about the chemicals in the plastic too. Even your plastic bottles for the mini green houses you made recently will leech plastics into the soil - but they are far riskier than LDPE in builder's plastic, which is more heat stable than a plastic bottle. As far as I have read, LDPE is safely used for food storage and is not known for chemical leeching, I imagine it's safe for the garden too, and by all accounts and online research, I think it's a good choice. The wood crate is also hard wood and not chemically treated - so many people used treated pine for garden beds which is a no no! There is also the plastic barrier between the wood crate and soil, so no leeching is possible in that regard.

I did think of this solution for hot and arid climates, but as you know, Victoria can get quite wet. Did you notice the tank outlet? That allows for excess water to flush out of the bed in the rainy season or wet weather. With an elbow and a hose on it, you can adjust the water level. When the pipe is facing up, the water will completely stay in the bed. Want to flush the water out of salts and refresh, or allow it to simply continuously drain? Simply point the house down. You also need a bit of mesh (a stocking will do or cloth) to stop mosquitos finding their way down the pipe and to breed.

Be amazing for you to give one of these a go in the hot and dry season, @artemislives, and see how it goes. There's many things you can improvise with for a free solution - I've seen wicking beds made of all sorts of things. They have been used to great success in central Australia - would love to hear of anyone using them in Asia.