Last month I attended a workshop on wicking beds at Purple Pear Farm on the outskirts of Maitland. Even though they grow vege for a living, to my relief, it seems they were experiencing the same lack of carrots as I was. The challenge, we were informed, is that carrots have a very particular need for constant soil moisture levels. At germination carrots don't forgive you if the sun drys out their soil between your scheduled daily watering. The answer, build a bed that's self watering. You can even go on holidays and your carrots will still be happy.
Introducing the wicking bed. Here's how you can build one from an old bath tub, or two...
|Wicking Bed Diagram: Construction can be from any waterproof vessel, such as an old water-tank, sink or in this case a bath tub. A water reservoir is created in the bottom with an overflow at right. The moisture naturally wicks up through the soil maintaining the soil at a constant moisture level. Perfect for growing carrots!|
|Step 1: Remove the drain hole and replace it in an inverted position. Build a frame for your vessel to sit on so that it sits at least 15cm above the ground to allow for drainage.|
|Step 4: Cut a length of geo textile to size and place in the bottom of the bath tub. Ensure there is ample overhang on the sides.|
|Step 5: Wrap Geo textile around the hole on the overflow pipe to prevent the entry of the growing medium. Secure it with a cable tie or similar.|
|Step 6: Pack the growing medium (in the case 'man sand' from the local landscape supplier is used) around the edges of the reservoir structure. Then continue to fill to the top.|
|Step 7: Your wicking bed is now ready for planting! Here is a successful bed of carrot and radish seedlings.|
|Step 8: Just in case the sun gets a little fiesty, it doesn't hurt to put a little extra protection in place. Here an old coffee bean hessian sack makes the perfect cover for carrot seeds that are yet to germinate.|
The Wicking Bed workshop was kindly run by Purple Pear Farm, organised by the Hunter Organic Growers Society.
Read Seed Raising Workshop at Purple Pear Organics