Monday, June 13, 2011

Finally this blog works!

Sorry for a long silence. I was having trouble with this blog.

Anyhow I do hope it will be fine after this post.

Thought I'd share how we built our wicking vegie beds.

We are going with the concept of wicking - you know how an oil candle/lamp works? Inside a bottle, a long strand of cotton with its end at bottom of the bottle and the top just poking out of top of the bottle, right. And with the oil in bottle, and a flame going on the top tip of the strand, it will continue to burn as long there are oil that is going up by soaking into the cotton. So with this idea (it's not our brilliant original idea though as we 'stole' it from others!), we built similar for vegies, where we have water behaving like oil with soil as the 'strand' for the vegies on top. Sounds complicated, eh? Not really.

We got the corrugated beds from 'Birdies' (actually we bought them from Bunnings when it was on special, our bad I know). It is measured at 2.9m long x 1.5m wide and 820mm high, quite large. We got 8 of those, however we shortened two of those into 2.9m long x 1.3m wide as we removed one panel at both end because of the space available. The two 'slim' beds are for our kids to grow their own produce there, while I have other 6 modular beds and 2 'homemade' beds for my use.

We built each bed on both side (East and West as I am facing North when I was taking the photo below!). Then we fill it up, and move to build the next set of beds heading south. 

Now we put in the lining (we used Pond lining - it may not be good due to plastic but it's the best we can do to get this going). The lining goes up to about 50 cm high, but we are not getting pools here. To prevent floodings, we put in a drain-point at about 30cm high from the bottom.

Here Tony was sealing the pipe to plastic with glue - he sealed behind the plastic and now here you can see him sealing it on plastic. So this is to ensure the water exit one point rather than slip through the hole in plastic and flood out the bottom.

This is the outside drain-point of bed. It is also sealed. 

 There is no way we can do it manually, so we got to call in the dingo!

Being a typical male, Tony would not let me have a go at all on the dingo! 

Anyway, we first filled the bed with river sand, just to cover plastic before pouring in the aggerated blue stone, which goes up to about 30cm. We then added in poor quality soil and topped it up with very good quality soil up to about 50cm below the top rim of bed (50% garden 'organic' soil and 50% compost - it smelt so nice!). Mulched it with both old hay and 'minced' straw to keep stray weeds/seeds from growing.

Oh, forgot to add that we have put in the water pipe - no photo unfortunately as I was busy trying to hold it while the base was being covered with stones! The slotted ag-pipe (its not covered with 'stocking') with the end being capped is shaped as 'S' to ensure the water is distributed 'evenly' across the bottom of bed. The ag-pipe is joined with an elbow and a straight pvc pipe that stood just at the rim of the bed. The pipe is also capped with a removable cap. This is where I put in water if we haven't got rain. Since we built the beds, it has been raining quite heavily and regularly - so I've never got to fill those beds with water yet. I can see the reflection of water at bottom of the pipe which tells me that the water is holding there from the rains.

I intend to put in a small bucket with holes at bottom and sides for compost worms in each bed, where I can add compost in each bed - feeding the worms there. At the moment the beds are rich in compost so I am leaving it till after winter.

I drew up a diagram but it is located at other computer so I cannot use it yet. Will have to dig it up soon for those who want a bit more visual example of a wicking bed.

I am happy to report that the vegies are growing really well at the moment! :D

As of the beginning of June, I've got 3 beds full of potato plants (peppered with lettuces), 2 beds with onions, garlic, shallots and leeks, 1 bed with baby spinach, celery, beetroot, 1 bed with broccoli, red cabbage, swedes, and 1 bed with peas, snowpeas, swedes, cos lettuces, bit of broccoli.

Coming next with vegies in beds. It's raining lots here lately so fingers crossed all will be fine.

I've harvested elderberries and will need to do more harvestings. There are kiwifruits and  citrus fruits waiting to be harvested.

Cheers till later!

1 comment:

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

Great to catch up on your blog, love your chook house.