Water Wicking Beds

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Louis, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Louis

    Louis Junior Member

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    Who's got thoughts on Water Wicking Beds?
    I have reserved feelings...
    Allright, saving water, yeay, but - depending on technical stuff and materials that might have bad environmental impacts in their manufacture...
    But also - it seems a little unNATURAL to me - water drawing up from below.

    One thing I wonder about: when rain falls and water moves into soil, it pulls new air in with it, thus supplying fresh oxygen to the soil life. How does a water wicking bed do this - support soil life, unless you replace it regularly? Am I missing something, am I worrying too much?

    Hm, any thoughts here?:think:
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    What's a water wicking bed?
     
  3. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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  4. earthworm

    earthworm Junior Member

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    A load of.....

    Seriously, I've built these for people (not my idea), seen demos on how they (supposedly) work, and heard from all their advocates. I think your reservations are well placed Louis. They simply don't work. Good organic matter will always hold more water whilst building biological activity than any construct lined with plastic. Nice to experiment, but now that the experiments have been done, get back to gardening in the Earth.
     
  5. charlesinnaloo

    charlesinnaloo Junior Member

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    I will give you my thought and current setup later this arvo. time for shopping.
     
  6. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    In the ones that I saw the wicking part on the base is made up of straw under the soil, with a perforated pipe running through it. This pipe and the materials used in making the bed can come from recycled sources. The plastic used to retain the water may be harmful to the environment, but the water saved must surely offset this impact.
    The water drawing up from below resembles a natural water table thats able to be used by the shallow roots of the annual veges.
     
  7. charlesinnaloo

    charlesinnaloo Junior Member

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  8. stephen

    stephen New Member

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    Hi There

    I haven't had any practical experience with wicking beds (hopefully can rectify that this week) but I do have some thoughts.

    In prinicipal the wicking beds imitate nature quite exactly, particulary in dry climates. It simulates a water table in the lower levels, and the drawing of moisture from below mainly comes from the water moving through the pores of the material - in this case soil - by capillary action.

    Capillary action is reasonably complicated to explain accurately but to simplify what is happening is that the water is attracted to the surface of the soil or sand or whatever particles with a force stronger than that of gravity which is pulling it back down. This can raise the water up some way (though not indefinently).

    River Red Gums partly use this principal to survive in dry river beds where the groundwater is high enough and they can get their roots down low enough. On the Liverpool plains some of the farmers can plant their crops in the lovely volcanic soil which sits above shallow aquifers that lets them grow their crops through dry conditions (under threat from potential CSG exploration). Under the ground is a great place to store water, particularly if you have high evaporation rates that we do have here in most of the country. So its basis in nature is sound, but the question of plastic is different. Of course, you can also have put one in packed clay soil...

    Have fun!
     

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