Save Water with Wicking Beds

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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.

wickingbeds2The 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.

wickingbeds3 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.

Spring Into Action!

Element Eco-Design Workshop

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It has been a busy month for us at Element Eco-Design. Inspired by the arrival of blossoms, buds and bees we have kicked off the 2012 planting season with 2 Introduction to Permaculture Design courses and a design for a 1.5 Acre Demonstration Garden at our local Okanagan College Campus. We also found time to make cold frames and start a bunch of veggies for the upcoming growing season.

Element Eco-Design Workshop

Our travels started by heading south, down the Okanagan Valley to Naramata, BC where we hosted our first Introduction to Permaculture Design course of the year. The beautiful Naramata Centre was the perfect setting for the course, surrounded by fruit trees and native plant gardens. The students were enthusiastic, the food was fantastic and the final design projects were some of the most innovative I have seen! To top the event off our group recieved a private tour of Dianne Ransom’s permaculture garden(Redbird Gardenworks). Dianne’s yard featured rain barrels, sheet mulched beds, raised beds, fruit tree guilds, urban chickens, native plant gardens and more!

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At the end of the month we traveled to Hazelton, BC. Despite being located in Northern BC, Hazelton boasts a zone 3-4 growing zone where many fruit trees can be grown as well as wild hazelnuts! Course organizer Chris Timms was inspired after attending our Intro course one year ago. He is now in the midst of creating a Permaculture network in Northern BC and establishing a 160 acre demonstration farm in the middle of the Hazeltons all while maintaining a demanding full time job! This nearly sold out course drew in a diverse set of students ranging from seasoned horticulturalists, natural builders, home gardeners and farmers. The skill sets, sustainable local projects and enthusiasm was astounding and made for a high energy course. Highlights included a hands-on water harvesting layout exercise, homemade nettle soup, great discussion and the creation of a new Permaculture Network! Best of luck everyone.

Hazelton Intro to Permaculture

A new look for 2012

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Our Sign

Element Eco-Design is a Permaculture Design and Education company proudly nestled in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia providing full design and implementation services. Element Eco-Design is owned and operated by Certified Permaculture Designers Gordon Hiebert and Jana Macnab.

Permaculture Design is a framework for designing sustainable human environments. Our designs are built around Permaculture Ethics: Care of Earth, Care of People and Return of Surplus. We use these ethics, Permaculture principles and Nature as our guide to create systems that mimic natural ecosystems; we work to bring nature to you. For more information on Permaculture click here.

Element Eco-Design consults on all areas of the built human environment. Our specialties lie in edible landscapes, agricultural systems and water harvesting for temperate climates. There is no area too big or too small for us to utilize Permaculture Design; we work on all properties from urban to rural. See our full list ofservices here.

At Element Eco-Design, Permaculture is far more than a system for growing food; it is a way of life. Permaculture not only addresses the built environment, it engages the social aspect of Culture as well. As such, we are dedicated to building a more resilient community by strengthening relationships valley wide. Hosting/attending gatherings, skill building events and discussion groups have been a great way for us to meet new members in our community. These venues are great for creating open space where community members can interact with each other to learn, share and grow with each other.

Moving into our second year of operation we would like to thank all of our friends, family and clients who have supported us in the past year and made our dream become a reality. Thank you to all the resident of Vernon who have greeted two kids from Northern BC with open arms and have made us feel at home. We look forward to many years of serving the Okanagan Valley as we move towards a sustainable future.

Warmest thanks,

Gordon Hiebert & Jana Macnab