We just finished installing five big and beautiful Wicking Beds for a client in Salmon Arm. These water smart raised beds were designed extra tall with a false bottom to reduce the need for bending over while the clients tend their veggies. So what are Wicking beds you ask?
Wicking beds are a great way to capture and store rain water to irrigate your raised beds from below the soil as they can be filled with a hose or connected right to your downspout. Wicking beds are raised beds with waterproof reservoir in the bottom 2/3 of the bed. The bed has a perforated pipe installed in the bottom of the bed, this pipe is covered with a fine gravel up to 10” deep. A layer of landscape fabric works to separate the gravel from the planting soil, the raised bed is filled with soil then planted out as usual.
The soil will act as a wick and draw the water up from the bottom, reducing evaporation and frequency of watering. Each bed is equipped with an overflow to ensure the soil and plants do not get over watered. The overflow can be directed to other beds or fruit trees, but when connected in series like we have done here, these beds can distribute water efficiently to a large number of beds while reducing overall irrigation demands. In times of little rain the beds can easily be filled from a garden hose or rain tank.
The beds pictured here are quite large but wicking beds can easily be scaled to almost any size. We have even seen folks who live in apartments craft wicking beds out of five gallon buckets! What a great way to conserve water and grow great organic veggies at home.
I also can’t help but mention that these amazing custom made beds were constructed out of 100 year old recycled fir timbers that were salvaged from the old Enderby High School, not only do our clients have these great, new, water smart veggie beds but they can now say they hold a little piece of the area’s history too.