1. The Practical Aquaponics discussion forum has been in operation for the last 5 years...

    We have enjoyed giving this service free of charge however ongoing increasing financial costs of running this service is making it increasingly difficult. Up until now we have resisted advertising as a means of a revenue stream to help run this forum but it has become inevitable that extra revenue is required to run this forum.

    We have introduced a donate button to help offset the cost of running this forum. It is completely voluntary, but if you would like to donate, all donations would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Murray..
    Dismiss Notice

Wicking beds just to clean up a few myths

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussion - Other gardening systems.' started by fishfood, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Hi i have been playing with wicking beds for the last few years and i thought i would share some of my findings
    I have had a total of 16 different beds
    1 you dont need gravel or any wicking stuff in the bottom dirt right to the bottom works just as well
    2 Its best to have a valve so if you need to you can completely drain your bed
    3 Its benefit if you have the capacity to be able to flood your bed to get rid of ant or slug infestations
    4 Wicking beds are just a super water efficient dirt garden they need crop rotation, regular liming, fertilizing ect
    5 Wicking beds are a great addition to an aquaponics system
    6 Theres no need to water down the hole i just water like a dirt garden
    7 This is just the start i will add to the list when i think of them if anybody has other findings please speak up
     
  2. tpilk

    tpilk Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    500
    Hi Fishfood,

    I began wicking container use last year and think they are great. AP water drives my containers as well. I have actually stopped adding GB's for more wicking containers, as it add's versatility in plant varieties and also allows for more aggressive bug control when it's really needed.

    Couple of things I'm curious about in your comments. It sounds like for day to day operation, your wicking container is managed just like a large flower pot with no drain (valve closed). I have used wicking materials, like a perlite/vermiculite mix at the bottom (sort of a resevoir) and though they are a pain at times, the advantage I've found is I can run off for several days or a week and not worry about things drying out. I'm curious if your top-watering in an all dirt container allows for this? Also, with valve closed, are you building up water in the bottom and what are the effects on the dirt? The wicking mix doesn't go foul in the same way or time frame dirt can in a non-drained container. What is your experience?
     
  3. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Ok for a start get 2 containers one your wicking material one dirt fill them the same with water seasol ect i think you will find the both react the same
    Normally the valve is open but the pipe is set in such a way that theres a reservior in the beds [100 mm]but with my setup with the milk crates theres also an air gap under the soil so realy theres just a 6 in block [wick] of soil in the water both sides
    with top watering it flushes the beds out into the sump to be used again
    There was one instant that i forgot to open the valve and the bed filled to 1 in from the soil top it did get a bit rank just let it into the sump to be used again diluted of course
    Also soon i am putting air stones in the bed reserviors to airate the water
     
  4. Jislizard

    Jislizard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    78
    Thanks for that.

    I am currently using gravel as the water reservoir but it takes up too much space. Although the plants are happy I am still having to water them everyother day which seems to be going against the reason for the wicking beds.

    I was thinking of pulling it out and replacing it with a void so I could hold a larger reservoir of water.

    If I put in a nice organic filled soil it will hold water but the reservoir volume would go down. How often do you water your beds?

    I have a valve on mine as they are all converted worm farms, I usually leave the valve open but it would be handy to flood it once in a while, I have a bucket under the tap and whenever it rains I get a lot of coloured water out the bottom collecting in the bucket. I just pour it back in when the water level drops.

    Watering down the hole is a pain but apparenlty it is meant to flush fresh air into the soil when you fill from below.

    If you think of any more tips...
     
  5. Sam Burton

    Sam Burton Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Messages:
    70
    I started years ago using Earthbox self watering containers. I have about 40 of them, give or take. Last year, I used AP water for a couple of them as an experiment and they worked a treat. Phenomenal results. The ones that worked best were coco peat rather than planting mix, but that's fairly expensive. This year, all my earth boxes will be connected to my AP systems and I am moving totally away from traditional beds to all wicking beds. The water savings is phenomenal.
     
  6. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Ah he has seen the light
     
  7. Gratilla

    Gratilla Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    406
    Erm, if you're watering a box full of dirt from the top and not wicking from the bottom, then you have a fancy "window box" and not a wicking bed.

    This is not a trivial distinction. There are good (scientifically-validated, see Colin Austin's site) reasons for wicking irrigation from below, not least of which are:

    1) Water Saving: ie not having to constantly rewater the top layer of grow medium, which has minimal impact on water uptake and is the first to dry out.
    2) Wicking irrigation from below does not encourage packing of the top soil making it difficult for air (esp O2/CO2) to penetrate.
    3) etc

    If you're having success without wicking then that's fine, but if your bed isn't wicking, it's not a wicking bed.
     
    toffee likes this.
  8. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Getting trivial over nothing
     
  9. dufflight

    dufflight Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    996
    I guess every time it rains all the wicking beds turn into window boxes.
     
  10. Gratilla

    Gratilla Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    406
    <Ho hum>

    The impact that (real) wicking bed systems have had on world agriculture is hardly trivial.

    Certainly a lot less trivial than say ..... aquaponics. Check it out.

    And oh, in some places it hardly rains for six months.
     
  11. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
    Messages:
    7,638
    Country:
    Australia
    State:
    Queensland
    City:
    Brisbane
    Hi Gratilla,
    Wicking beds are truly wonderful, but I would hardly describe Aquaponics as "trivial"
     
  12. Gratilla

    Gratilla Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    406
    Hi Murray,

    Agreed.

    And those that can appreciate the concept and benefits of wicking beds will have found a valuable partner to aquaponics.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  13. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
    Messages:
    7,638
    Country:
    Australia
    State:
    Queensland
    City:
    Brisbane
    My recent trip to India has highlighted just that. I was told there was mains power at the village, but when I arrived I found that it ran past the building but that is it. Even if it was actually connected it is only on for a few hours a day. Without a lot of expenditure on solar panels, battery banks etc I concluded that Aquaponics was, at this time, impossible for that project. So we have redirected our energies into Wicking Beds. A much more appropriate technology for those circumstances.
     
  14. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Trivial eh just google wicking beds in google images
     
  15. Gratilla

    Gratilla Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    406
    Truly amazing, isn't it.

    Do you now see the difference between wicking beds and what you described in your OP.
     
  16. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Yes i see the difference but i have done an experement 2 beds side by side one there idea one my way and i think i will stick to my way
    People can make up there own mind
    In other words what ever floats your boat
     
  17. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,239
    Its a bit like aquaponics theres the recomended way and theres hundreds of alternative ways of doing it its still called aquaponics
    Theres a new one here started 2500 liter fish tank gravety feed to a swirl filter gravety feed to grow beds then to sump via filter with cloth and brushes then pumped to 8 ft high to a bioball filter then drops to fish tank not the recomended way but its still Aquaponics
     
  18. dufflight

    dufflight Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    996
    I think people like to pigeon hole everything. I didn't know my old tubs with water storage underneath were wicking beds till i saw someone use the term. And if you go back enough it would of been known under different names. permaculture, organic, wicking beds and Ap are just new names on old ways of growing. And if the lines between them blur a little then that's a good thing.
     
  19. Gratilla

    Gratilla Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    406
    <sigh - this thread is dangerously getting sucked down the rabbit hole.>

    Dufflight <respectfully>, if you have wicking beds, but don't know you have wicking beds and correctly describe them as, "old tubs with water storage underneath", then you have successfully communicated and I have absolutely no problem with that.

    Dirt boxes watered from the top described (erroneously) as wicking beds (irrigated from beneath ie the complete opposite) are not minor blurs but anathema to the central concept and practice of wicking.

    Look at the thread title; look at the OP; I believe my first post hever so politely corrected the misconception(s).

     
    toffee likes this.
  20. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    5,879
    Country:
    Australia
    State:
    W.A.
    City:
    Perth
    I don’t know what you read Gratilla, but it’s my understanding after reading FF’s posts that his beds do wick (read post #3), but when the water reservoir in the bottom needs topping up he simply waters the GB’s from above rather than pouring the water down a pipe… much the same as would happen every time it rains… as Duff pointed out.

    Are you saying for it to be a wicking bed in the true sense of the word that a GB should be covered so as not to allow rain to contact the surface of the media?

    I think FF has been experimenting with wicking beds for long enough to determine what works best for him. If his beds wick from a reservoir in the bottom, but he tops up the reservoir by watering the GB’s from above, as opposed to pouring the water into the bottom reservoir through a pipe… then in my opinion they are still a wicking bed… they are just managed in a different way that works for him… much like two similar AP systems with gravel filled GB’s where one is run as flood and drain and the other as constant flood… they’re both still aquaponic systems…and if operated correctly, will both achieve similar results.

    I’m quite sure if FF had noticed any adverse effects due to watering from above that he would’ve stopped the practice and reverted back to adding the water directly to the reservoir.
     

Share This Page