Soil Considerations for Wicker Beds
It is important that your soil/potting mix should contains a good amount of composted material and organic matter, together with some coarse sand to ensure efficient wicking. For best local advice we suggest that you speak to a nursery or landscape supply company in your area to discuss your plans and to get their input on your requirements.
Veggie Bed Mix
The optimal veggie bed mix should contain approximately:
- 70% Greenlife potting mix, or similar good quality veggie mix, with dolomite and complete fertilisers or Composted pine barks;
- 20% Coarse sand and ash; and
- 10% Cow manure.
Ornamental Bed Mix
The optimal ornamental bed mix should contain a combination of the following:
- Composted pine bark;
- Coarse sand;
- Composted sawdust;
- Coco peat; and
Your D.I.Y Ground Wicking Beds are simple to install. All of the timbers are pre-drilled and all fixings supplied. You will require the tools to complete the job.
- Drill or electric screwdriver
- Scissors or knife to cut the rubber liner
- Spirit Level
- 22mm Speed bore drill bit
Level Base. The first requirement for installation of a Little Veggie Patch wicking bed is the selection of a site suited to the plants or crop to be grown, which is both level and solid from any sinkage. If necessary, level the site and compact the area so the wicking bed will always remain level. Depending on the condition of the base soil you may wish to add 5cm of compacted road base or crusher dust to make the base more solid. If the base is level but includes rough materials such as blue metal, you may wish to cover this with Geotec to protect the pond liner.
Assemble the Bed. Lay all the timbers ensuring all the letters match up. A with A and B with B etc. Then starting with timbers marked A screw them together using the long screws provided. Now simply continue screwing all the timbers together matching up the letters. Once the main timbers have been screwed fix the vertical corner pieces still matching the letters marked.
Once all corners are fixed you will need to ensure the bed is square. The best method to do this is to use a tape measure to measure the overall diagonal (from one corner to the opposite corner) dimension then measure the other diagonal measurement. These 2 dimensions should be the same. If not move the frame until the dimensions are the same. This will ensure the plastic cells fit in the bed correctly.
Install the liner. Ensure that the compacted base of the bed is free from sharp objects that could damage the pond liner. This can be achieved by laying Geotec fabric or Corflute underneath the pond liner. Ensure that the pond liner is pushed into each corner of the base. Fold the corners neatly to allow the cells to fit. At this stage, you can attach the liner to the top of the walls using 30mm Galvanised clouts, staples or tape. This will make it easier to add the remaining cells.
Overflow Pipe. In deciding where to position the overflow pipe you also need to consider the position of the inlet pipe. Whilst not essential, we suggest that they are located close to each other so that you can see when water is flowing out of the overflow pipe when you are filling the reservoir. This will indicate that the water reservoir is full. Attach the overflow pipe to the space provided on the underside of the WaterUps® cell and secure with cables ties. Move the cell into a place where the location of the overflow pipe can be marked against the inside wall of the bed for drilling. Once the hole has been drilled, using a 22mm Speed Bore or Diamond Hole Saw, mark the position of the overflow pipe on the pond liner with a white marker. Then using a Stanley knife, or equivalent, cut out the hole as marked on the pond liner to align with the pre-drilled hole. To insert the inlet pipe:
- There is a marked circle on each WaterUps® cell to indicate where to attach the inlet pipe.
- Use a Stanley knife, or equivalent, to cut along the inner grove to remove the circle containing the text.
Adding the WaterUps® Cells. You will already have positioned the WaterUps® cells containing the inlet and overflow pipes. The remainder of the cells can now be added and linked together using the joiners supplied.
TIP: Before adding any potting mix spray water over the WaterUps® cells. This will help combine any dry particles of soil and prevent them from contaminating the water reservoir below.
Potting Mix. It is important that your soil/potting mix should contain a good amount of composted material and organic matter, together with some coarse sand to ensure efficient wicking. For the best advice, we suggest that you speak to a local nursery or landscape supply company to discuss your plans and to get their input on your requirements.
In order to achieve the most efficient wicking outcome, we suggest:
- That your soil/potting mix should contain a good amount of composted material and organic matter, together with some coarse sand.
- Mix your soil/potting mix with Perlite (50/50) and then add this to the wicks, which are the 4 feet at the base of each cell, and push down.
- Adding Perlite to the “wicks” will improve airflow through to the soil.
- Give the top of the bed a light spray of water. This will help compact the potting mix in the feet.
- Then, add potting mix evenly across the top of the wicking cell platform to a depth of around 10cm.
Once this base level has been established to give the mix another light spray to assist the compaction. Continue filling the bed with potting mix in layers, giving each layer a light spray of water. Give the bed a final soak and then insert the hose into the filler pipe and fill with water until you observe the overflow pipe discharging water, which indicates the reservoir is full. Then place the cap on the inlet pipe to prevent insects or other debris entering the reservoir.
Ideally, allow 24 hours for the soil to ‘wick’ water up into the bed and then fill the reservoir again via the inlet pipe. The wicking bed is now ready to use. If planting small seedlings, the bed will need surface watering until their roots develop to reach the wicking beds moist soil. Add Mulch Mulching is vital to keep the top of the soil moist. The plants may need occasional surface water during the first week or so while the roots become established. A wicking bed will operate at its optimal efficiency when approximately 2cm of fine mulch is applied to the top of the bed. The ideal mulches are:
- Sugar cane; and
- Tea Tree.
TIP: Ensure that the mulch is kept away from the stem of each plant to avoid collar rot. After the mulch is applied give it a light watering to settle it in.
Observing the Water Level. To check the water level in your wicking bed place a dip stick (e.g. a piece of dowelling or bamboo) down the inlet pipe to check the levels each week and only fill when the level drops to around 3cm. TIP: Do not top up the wicking bed’s water reservoir too often. Allow the water level to fall before refilling. This helps with the aeration of the soil. Continue to improve your soil biology with the addition of manures, compost and organic matter and your WaterUps® wicking bed will reward you with nutrient rich, homegrown, healthy plants and produce while saving time, water and money.