Wicking bed update.

I thought I’d take the camera out for a bit of a walk around the backyard to have a look at how the wicking beds are going. For new readers to get the context, see here. The metal wicking beds all have the aftermath of this problem.

Hazel accompanied me for a while; I think she was hopeful that the camera was edible.

Truthfully, if it wasn’t for this wicking bed and the two following photos showing the two wicking boxes I initially made, I’d be very doubtful as to whether the wicking system was worth it. However the herb bed, containing cranberry, thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, yellow oregano, rosemary, garlic chives, bergamot and perpetual basil is looking so happy and healthy! If only the newer beds were looking this good.


I decided to put the rhubarb into a wicking pot after I pulled out the cauliflowers that did nothing here. It’s loving it! I was given the plant at an Open Garden tour and it snapped in half in the car coming home. All I was left with was a nub around 1cm high. It’s certainly come a long way since then.

Next to it is the wicking pot with leeks in it. They sulked for ages before taking off once the warmer weather hit, though if you have a look at what they started like, then they’ve also done pretty well. I’m looking at keeping this box as a perennial leek bed… like spring onions all you have to do is cut the leeks off at ground level when you want to eat one and they grow back.

These three beds/boxes have different soil to the other, more recent beds. *sigh*

Here’s view of the three wicking beds in the driveway. (Please ignore the decorative empty pots; I’ll go and put them away now I’ve been shamed after seeing this photo.)
As you can see, there’s quite a few plants growing fairly well here, but they’re still not the verdant green you’d expect to see after a Spring with lots of sunshine and rain.


A case in point is the lone ‘Lazy Housewife’ bean plant I have. It’s growing up the trellis but it’s a very sallow shade. Looks almost jaundiced. I’m thinking I’ll sprinkle a little more sulphur around it and then cover it with compost. (The sulphur, not the bean plant.) Between one and the other, things should improve.

It looks like most of the bean plants aren’t yet happy with their wicking bed homes.
The ‘Purple King” beans that Foodnstuff gave me are definitely not looking perky, yet right beside them the strawberries are going along beautifully.


In a different bed, Nonna’s garlic isn’t looking great. I read somewhere that garlic doesn’t like to get its feet yet, so maybe a wicking bed is a bad idea for this plant. Is this true? Anyone know?


However, here’s something that’s pretty conclusive. A Tromboncino Zucchini plant in a wicking bed. The following one was planted at exactly the same time, but in the ground.

I may be imagining it, but there seems to be a slight variance in the sizes of the plants.

So this isn’t totally unexpected, though I won’t deny that it’s still a bit disappointing, especially considering all the effort and expense that went into establishing these 9m of wicking beds.

I was a little cautious in sprinkling the sulphur around in the beds when they were redone, because I read that having too much sulphur is almost as bad as not having enough. I may do another cautious sprinkle, then top up with lots of home made compost.

The beds all have worms in them and are mini worm farms, in effect, so the worms are diligently improving the soil all the time. I think I’m going to have to take a long-term view of these wicking beds, recognising that this year’s crops are going to be less than stellar, but with lots of compost, worm action and green manure crops over winter I’ll see improvements in yield year by year.

I guess gardeners have to be optimists. Even through gritted teeth.

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7 Responses to Wicking bed update.

  1. persiflage says:

    A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot, and your looks as though it is off to a good start, despite a few shaky ones here and there. In fact, I foretell some overcrowding will happen… and before you know it you’ll be opening a stall on the nature strip….

  2. Sal says:

    Its still all looking really good despite seeming to take a while to get going. Do I sense another similiarity, a sprinkle of impatience when it comes to waiting for our plants to grow haha!
    I have three slow-to-get-going climbing lima beans in different locations, one is seemingly stunted beside its supposed ‘best friend’ the corn, while another is booming along in hot dry guinea pig poo laden soil, with the potted bean, somewhere in the middle!
    I certainly have wicking bed envy of your beautiful raised beds, and I didn’t even notice your decorative empty pots til I read the text lol/
    Cute chook too!

  3. Tania says:

    I had a bit of trouble getting plants (in wicking beds) to grow initially but they have all taken off now, and not looking back. I wonder why this is? My garlic didn’t do so well either :/

    Having sandy soil here, the wicking beds or raised beds are a great investment, otherwise I cant keep enough water up to the plants especially in the heat…The beetroots did well in the wicking beds 🙂 I have noticed this morning that my tomatoes are yellowing on the leaves, so that is not good news, I have so much trouble trying to grow tomatoes, they are so sensitive to a variety of things…The weather has a lot to do with it I think, especially humidity!

  4. Catherine says:

    The wicking beds will be worth it in the end. I have garlic growing in one of my baths. Maybe it is doing well cause the water level is fairly low compared to the soil level. Who knows – I’m not arguing with it…vbg. Love the idea of the leeks regrowing. Some I had pulled out snapped off and I wondered if I should try to dig them out. Now I’m going to leave them and see how they do. Impatience with plants and their growth seems to be a common problem…vbg. I’m impatient too.

  5. river says:

    I wish I knew the anwer to the yellowing of leaves. Some people have said that epsom salts sprinkled around and watered in would help green things up.

  6. Dani says:

    The plants in my wicking beds also took a while, but are now coming along brilliantly. Especially the lettuce. Bitter leaves are a thing of the past 🙂

  7. Deb says:

    Well I think it is about the soil that you buy is never as good as natural soil well composted with natural leaf litter, animal litter etc. In time with what you add to the soil in the wicking beds in terms of sulphur, manure etc they will be productive. Try sheep manure being careful not too close to burn plants.

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