Thursday, November 07, 2013

How to avoid having to water your veggie garden

I've been meaning to get into the wicking bed thing for a while.  I also wanted to find a use for our old bathtub since I realised that aquaponics is probably just a little too much commitment for me.

Plenty of great ideas were forthcoming by googling "bathtub wicking bed".  Our bathtub is quite shallow, so I needed to make sure the gravel reservoir part of the wicking bed wasn't too deep.  Around 30cm of soil seems to be good according to blogs etc, but the whole bathtub was 30cm deep in this case.

First I set up the overflow through the plug hole with a small piece of pvc pipe siliconed in.  Then I created a watering pipe / distribution pipe combo with some more PVC pipe.  Once that was siliconed in place I used a couple of bags worth of drainage gravel in the bottom to create the reservoir.  I then used some weed mat on top of that, followed by some sand, and some more weed mat.  I'm not sure if that was all overkill - as I've read in a few places that you can really do the same thing just by filling the whole thing up with soil.

After the second weed mat layer I filled the tub up with mulch and good quality soil, heaping it up in the bathtub to maximise the depth.

The worm pipe was an afterthought.  Again, plenty of info with a bit of googling.  Basically, just drill some holes in a PVC pipe and stick it in the bed.  Add some composting worms and drop some scraps in there once in a while and they will distribute their worm poo goodness all over the garden!

The watering hole (vertical) with distribution pipe coming out of it (horizontal):


Looking down the watering pipe you can see the overflow pipe poking up out of the plug hole:

 A closer shot of the distribution pipe:

A look into the worm pipe:

Photo of the freshly set up wicking bed:

Around 4 weeks later - I've only watered it once!  It rained once and it gets a little bit of overflow from watering the pots above it: 

Finally, a diagram of the whole thing:

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