The concept of a self-watering or “wick” bed is simple. You need to place a watering vessel at the base and let nature do your gardening for you!
I’ve been researching some wicking beds for a while now, and seen lots of varieties that use crazy pipes and special contains and all that. I stumbled across a blog called therustedgarden and I was impressed with how he used an old towel to wick the water up from a reservoir to water the plants. I decided to just lay a hessian sack along the base, and let the soil do all the work for me (because that’s how I roll, OK?) and hessian is a cheap material that will absorb some liquid.
1. You won’t need to water from the top-down – just fill the base
2. There’s less evaporation, as you don’t top-water.
3. You don’t need to water every day, so it saves water
4. Constant supply of water means less plant stress!
Deep tubs = more root growth
Black tubs = absorbs more heat
Clear tubs = algae may be an issue in reservoir
Go heavy duty – don’t use a flimsy box
1 large plastic tub, with a lid
Gravel, to fill 1/4 of the container
1 thin piece of PVC pipe
PVC corner piece (optional)
Soil, to fill the container
2. About 1/4 of the way up, drill a small hole to allow any excess water to leak out. We don’t want our plants getting flooded on a rainy day!
3. Fill the base of your container with gravel up to around 1/4 full, adding enough gravel to cover the pipe opening.
4. Cover the gravel with the hessian sack. This will absorb water up into the soil, without letting the soil fall into the well-drained gravel.
5. Fill the containers with soil, taking care that the PVC pipe remains upright.
6. Add your plants, and water from up top to start them off. After about a week, your plants should be wicking all by themselves, and watering will be done by topping up via the PVC tube.
I will post updates as my babies grow! I have one pot (pictured) with corn and beans. Another with chilli and capsicum. A third has a bunch of different sunflowers. They’re great around the border of my rental garden!