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Gardening the Wicking Bed Way

At home, community, food, garden

By Sue Slater, Birallee Park Neighbourhood House

Most of us have good intentions when planting a summer veggie garden. All those fresh tomatoes and salad greens, not to mention strawberries! We think we get everything right – the correct spot in the yard, the best quality soil, and the right plants for the season. But in time, we slowly let ourselves down, and our plants fail. We just don’t find the time to water the plants or we kill them with kindness and water them too much!  Sound familiar?

What if I said there was an age old remedy for this. Ever heard of wicking beds? These are basically giant self watering pots in the form of a small garden bed. They water plants from below rather than above, reducing evaporation and the likelihood of salty soil. They use capillary action to draw water up through the soil from a reservoir below – like putting a tissue into a glass of water and watching it climb upwards. Water wicks through the soil, with the plant roots drinking the water when they need to.

This type of planting has numerous benefits, not least of which it means they are self watering, with no need to water daily. Think of the water and time savings! In the hottest of summers, the wicking bed remains moist, delivering water where it is most useful, at the root zone. It also alleviates the risk of fungus developing on foliage.

This type of garden bed can be constructed using basic recycled materials, and are great for people with less mobility and strength.  So don’t let  lack of space or time deter you. Everyone can grow their own food in whatever space is available.  It’s a style of gardening that is surely the most socially, economically and environmentally responsible form of food production and sustainable living we can adopt.

As part of the Sustainable Living Festival, Birallee Park Neighbourhood House will be holding weekly workshops on the how-to of wicking beds – every Wednesday in November, 10.00-11.00am at 39 Emerald Avenue, Wodonga. Cost is $10.00 per person, with RSVPs to Birhouse@bigpond.net.au or 02 6059 2590. We have many such beds available for viewing onsite, with some available to take home on the day.

For more information about this and other Sustainable Living Festival events see: alburycity.nsw.gov.au/slf2016