Survive Drought with Wicking Beds

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by velacreations, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. velacreations

    velacreations Monkey+


    We live in a very dry climate, and all of our water comes from rain catchment. It typically rains from July through October, but the rest of the year is dry. So, we have to be extra careful with our water use, and especially for growing food, we look to increase our water efficiency as much as possible.

    The wicking bed has been a revolution for us. Not only does it use less water and increase productivity, it reduces work, needing no tilling, no weeding, and generally, no maintenance. During the severe drought of 2011, we found that our wicking beds needed about 1/2 gallon per square foot per week. Compared to our normal garden beds, we saved about 5 gallons per square foot per week! That is a HUGE difference.

    Our wicking beds thrived through the drought (as you can see from the photo above), where the rest of the garden was suffering, even though it was receiving more water.

    The wicking bed concept is very simple. Create a reservoir of water below the soil, and water from the bottom up, rather than from the top down. This reduces evaporation losses and helps to maintain a balanced soil moisture level. Your plants will love it!

    Here's how we built our wicking beds using cheap materials:
    Wicking Bed

    We are slowly converting our entire garden to wicking beds:
    More Wicking Beds
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    What a great thing. I am interested in the netting that is over the garden. Do you have more info on that?
  3. velacreations

    velacreations Monkey+

    It is just plain ol' shade cloth. We use it during the peak summer months to keep the beds a bit cooler, but it also works well to keep insects out.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  4. natshare

    natshare Monkey+++

    Good idea! Sort of along the same idea as hydroponics use, where, instead of watering from the surface down to the roots, you're putting the water (and nutrients) right at root level, so you're not having to waste water soaking the dirt all the way down.
    Last year, I tried doing a soaker hose buried in the dirt, and it worked somewhat. Of course, we also had the hottest summer in decades, which pretty much fried the blossoms of everything that I had growing, so while it grew well, it didn't fruit at all. :(
    Might have to try this method, next year. [clp]
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