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?
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.