Wicking Bed Planter

Like the idea of a flourishing container of vegies without having to water them constantly? A wicking bed might be for you.

Wicking beds are a clever way to water plants from below, providing constant damp conditions. These self-watering systems allow water stored in the base to ‘wick’ up through the soil. Having water readily available at the roots helps healthy plant growth and reduces mildew and fungal problems on foliage.

You can buy wicking bed planters as kits, or with a bit of know-how and the right materials you can make your own. Small wicking beds are portable, so they’re ideal if you’re a tenant.

If you want to make your own, you’ll need:

  • waterproof container with about a 20cm space for a water reservoir
  • wicking medium like perlite, sand, gravel or scoria
  • a length of plastic polypipe tube taller than the container
  • geotextile fabric or shadecloth cut to the diameter of container that separates the water and wicking medium but let’s water pass through
  • a small length of thin pipe
  • free-draining potting mix about 30cm deep.

Materials needed to build your own wicking bed planter.

How to assemble:

  • fill the bottom of the container with wicking medium
  • stand the polypipe tube vertically in the corner of container
  • drill or punch a hole through your container on the opposite side, level with the top of the wicking medium and insert the thin pipe drain horizontally
  • cover the wicking medium with your fabric layer, cutting out a hole for the horizontal pipe
  • fill the rest of the container with potting mix
  • plant your herbs or vegies
  • use the vertical tube to add water to your container from time to time.

Wicking systems are perfect for growing seasonal vegies and herbs. Now is a good time to plant pak choy, mizuma, baby spinach, lettuce and rocket.

Put the system on a flat surface in a warm, sunny position then add the water to the reservoir. Top up the water as needed, only fertilise occasionally, and enjoy your fresh, homegrown produce.

You can also join our wicking gardens for small spaces workshop with an expert horticultural tutor and build your own. You’ll take home your own wicking container garden filled with six edible plants and the knowledge to make your plants thrive.

Belinda Thackeray

This advice was provided by Belinda Thackeray. As our City Farm project manager, Belinda develops spaces and programs to connect urban people with agriculture. She spends her spare time at home growing an abundance of food for her family.

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