Making a Wicking Bed Bath: Water Wise Gardening Part 4
In the last few weeks I've been preparing for a dry summer. Seems crazy given all the unusual rain we have had over the last few days but the dry weather WILL come.
You might have caught these posts, but if you haven't, scroll back through my feed for the posts on ollas and wicking beds. They've been wildly successful so far.
After making my IBC beds, and a wicking bed from an old trough, I thought I'd do one with the last remaining vessel in my garden - an old bathtub - so I could use up the last of the gravel. I also wanted to be able to plant a few herbs that really like water, and never survive hotter weather, such as Vietnamese mint.
Here is how I did it - it's super simple.
- Drill a hole through the bath to fit your tank fitting. Mine was 20mm. This was the hardest bit for me, which involved getting my husband away from his landrover to do it for me. I can't always be trusted to drill holes.
- Line the bath with plastic (or seal up the plughole - we chose the plastic)
- Poke a hole through to fit the tank fitting.
- Silicon in place, and insert a piece of pipe so you can adjust the water level
- Find a piece of hose or pipe which will allow water into the reservoir - hold in place with a brick so the open part of pipe will sit against the corner and reach above the essential soil level.
- Line the bath with plastic (alternatively, make the plughole water tight!)
- Fill the bath with gravel up to the 200 mm mark.
- Place a piece of geofabric, weed matting or shadecloth on top of the gravel (this will help prevent the soil moving into the reservoir, but the water will still wick up through it).
- Fill with compost - around 250 mm is ample and the water won't wick much higher than that.
- Fill the water reservoir with water through the exposed pipe until the water runs out the outlet pipe.
- Cover the water inlet pipe with a can or a jar to stop mosquitoes breeding in there
- Plant your plants!
I chose to plant strawberries in the trough wicking bed, but they aren't doing as well as expected - lots of growth, but the leave are rather yellowy despite fertiliser. However, the self seeded pumpkins are the basil are doing brilliantly, as is the Vietnamese Mint, and I've barely had to fill up the water reservoir at all.
Really happy with this project, and keeping an eye out for more baths!
Would you give this project a go?
Have you ever experimented with a wicking system?