Building Wicking Beds

These are some photos from Wicking Beds made from a design at the Mornington Community Gardens, using old pallet crates. There are a couple of images missing for some steps in between, but we’ll add them as they are received, and you’ll get the whole picture.

Preparation of the ground is important with wicking beds; it needs lined (so water cant drain out) and level (so water doesn’t pool in a corner).  As with everything, spend the time getting that right and you’ll prevent all the possible problems.

This design uses those pallet crates that you see at the orchards in Harcourt, or at the markets, cut once down the vertical middle, and once through the horizontal middle, giving four beds. A front is screwed on (image 1). If you look closely you may be able to see drainage spouts in the image also. These are placed in regular intervals around the bed, just above the level of your water membrane, to allow excess water to leave the bed, and to allow friendly worms in.

The bed is lined with plastic sheeting, and then again up around 10cm (image 2). Ag pipe is laid snaked from corner to corner, with more plastic sheeting underneath the vertical part of the pipes to ensure water doesnt drip under the plastic sheeting (image 3)

Scoria rock is laid at bottom of bed (image 4 and 5) to to do two things; keep pipe in place and retain water.

A few steps are missing at the moment, but in words…. lay carpet over the rock and pipe, this will be your water reservoir to draw from.  Water in the carpet, and fill up your reservoir now. Next, put in your soil. Phillipa, who designed these beds, said the soil started visibly moistening almost immediately (image 6).

These beds can also be protected from frost or excess sun, but curling to conduit pipe over the bed, and overlaying plastic sheeting or shade cloth.

There are plenty of designs of Wicking Beds around the internet and in peoples heads, so if you have anything to share on the subject, please send a comment by clicking on the link below.

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4 comments

  1. Phillipa · November 10, 2009

    Hi Graham,

    just a short hello and to let you know that the
    wicking boxes are going really well.
    Its been 3 days in a row that Ive come home around the 3 o Clock mark
    to find all vegies in the wicking boxes looking very happy and not even close
    to wilting.However,the rest of the garden has been suffering and needed fast and plentiful
    rehydration.
    This early heat has really put the boxes to the test and it’s a 100% success so far.
    The boxes have been filled twice since they were made using somewhere between 2 – 4 buckets of water per box.

    I”ll have some more pics for you soon

    cheers , philippa

  2. Jon · January 15, 2010

    Hi there,
    I have a design (in my head!) of a wicking bed very similar to yours. Thanks for the ideas! I’m struggling to find a source for the crates. Have you got any ideas? (I live in Torquay, Victoria)
    Cheers,
    Jon

    • Graham · January 16, 2010

      Hi Jon
      We got ours from organic vegie grower in Ballarat, as a favour, but try any growers down there.
      There are lots up in Harcourt from the apple growers up there, so if you have anything similar down your way try that.
      The wineries too are a good place to try.

      Cheers,
      graham

  3. Ludovic · February 6, 2012

    Hi Graham,
    I’m looking at your picks…great idea for the design! I want to build wicking beds in my garden too. Any chance you could share plans?

    Thanks for your time.

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