Wicking Beds are just wonderful to grow out crops that fruit or bear their crop underground. Potato, carrot, onion and the like.
What is a Wicking Bed, and what has that to do with Aquaponics?
A wicking vegetable garden bed system is an easy to build vegetable growing system developed in Australia by Colin Austin, an Australian who looked at solutions to growing food systems in desert communities. The fact that it works so well for the lazy gardener is a bonus! Wicking Beds are essentially an enclosed water reservoir that allows the vegetables to be watered from below the plant’s root zone. Its an ideal way to grow root crops.
But don’t think wicking beds are only for root crops, the work great to grow any plant, either edible or decorative, fruit trees or vegetables.
Normally the wicking bed system is powered by rainwater. But adding nutrient rich fish water from your Aquaponics system will turbo charge your wicking bed even more. The fish water is fed once a week in summer through a slotted pipe that allows the water to flow down and slowly “wick” it’s way up by capillary action and feed the plant roots from the bottom up. It’s an ideal solution if you live in a hot dry environment like we do – with lots of sandy soil where nutrients are easily leeched away. Its also a good way to grow root crops like potatoes and carrots in a more conventional system rather than Aquaponics which is more suited to above ground growing plants where the crop is above the ground. The really good thing is that wicking beds only need watering once a week in high summer and once a month in winter. Just look down the filler pipe. If you can see some water it is fine. No water visible, then you need to add some in the next little while.
Use can use your own blend of composted material to fill your Wicking Bed. Make sure the material is able to “wick” the moisture up from below. Your own carefully made compost mix is the ideal. You can also elect to use a very good quality commercially available compost or potting mix. The ideal depth for the grow bed is close to 300 mm or 1 foot.
We incorporate wicking beds into our Aquaponics systems such as the Indy 23 Fish Garden.
Wicking beds are just great for growing root or tuber type crops
Potato (sweet and English style)Perfect companion to your Aquaponic System
Water wise. Only water used is that used by the plants.Works best if under cover of some sort. Avoids the leaching of nutrients. Long service life.
Low maintenance form of gardening
LEFT:- Example of a domestic size wicking bed made from timber and lined with a food safe liner.
Works very well but performs much better under cover. This preserves the nutrients in the wicking bed and avoids them being leached out by the rain.