Skinflint Sunday: go forth and get wicking beds!! It’s cheaper in the long run.

Poor Bertie. He has no idea what tomorrow will bring. But that’s not the point of this post.


foodnstuff has written a cracker of a post about how her garden and gerls survived the heatwave (or not). She also found that her wicking boxes worked brilliantly, though I was shocked to see the photos both she and Bek posted of apples cooked on the trees. Mine all came through unscathed.


I’m wondering if it was a combination of the watering I did every morning, plus the thick layers of newspapers, cardboard and mulch that are plastered all over this bed. This layer of mulch has only been in place a month or two to smother the grass and I was a little worried that it’d stop water from actually getting to the trees. It takes a while for water to penetrate all the layers, but once it’s down among the roots it must stay there…? Anywy, for whatever reason, I’m glad the apples are all still going strong.


After I posted last time, I experimented using the solar oven for ‘roast’ pumpkin and the fierce sun for dehydrating apples. This was the best photo I could get, because the wooden deck was literally burning the bottoms of my feet. Much as I love you all, it’s comfort before clear blog photos.


Pretty happy with how these turned out. I would’ve liked to do more, but my cake cooler that I was using to keep insects off only fitted my tiniest tray. The pumpkin experiment in the solar oven wasn’t a success though. They turned out soggy and got thrown to the chooks. You win some, you lose some…


All in all, the heat wave didn’t cost us too much. Our massive fig tree which covers almost our entire back fence became a little stressed and dropped some leaves. I’m going to rake them up today and pop them in the bed where the chook tractor recently was, to help norish the soil even more.


The new bean plants in the wicking bed near the garage are flowering a day after the heat wave passed. I’m wondering if they survived because their growth wasn’t as far advanced as the Scarlet Runner beans, who I fear have gone to meet their maker:


foodnstuff theorised that perhaps it was the beans’ big leaves that made them susceptible to the heatwave. I suppose this is a good argument on the wisdom of succession planting. Must get onto that by design, not purely by accident as happened in this instance.

The tamarillo that foodnstuff gave me when I delivered a thermomix to her friend Yvonne managed to keep ahold of its first fruit. It’s in a pretty large pot that I kept well mulched and watered every morning through the heat.


In a smaller pot next to the tamarillo, my 10 year old bay tree actually decided that it liked the heat and put on new growth. Stupid tree…

This is the view of my sideway with my back to the gate. The 3 wicking beds here face north and so bear the brunt of the sun all day. I didn’t lose a thing – and indeed, the warrigal greens increased their growth.


I’m going to have to start chopping them back and feeding them to the chooks. They share this bed with a dwarf peach tree, some spring onions and a lone celery, which you can just see next to the terracotta ‘lid’ of the watering pipe. I have to keep using the leaves of the warrigal greens next to the celery as they keep growing over it and denying the poor thing any sunlight.


In desperation on the first morning of the heat wave, I threw the tansy that Shane gave me, along with a mint and a couple of small comfrey plants earmarked for the ‘orchard’ into a box and half filled it with water. That was all they needed to come through with no worries in full afternoon sun. Next to it is an asparagus fern that my aunty Doris gave me, probably 15 years ago. It sits in its pot in full afternoon sun, I occasionally throw water at it which seems to run straight off it without absorbing – yet it’s still here. If scientists could harness this plant’s energy, we’d all be able to live forever.


This is a photo of the left hand garden bed, which I’ve left neglected. My brother in law is coming sometime in the next couple of weeks (I hope) to do the same job he did in the right hand garden bed, so that it’ll be totally protected from weeds and the chook tractor will gradually work its way around the beds, fertilising them and making those chooks earn their keep. The reason I’m showing you my shame (call myself a gardener???) is that I have a bed of asparagus here that I totally ignored during the heat. Not a skerrick of water went in this part of the garden at all… yet the asparagus is healthy and happy. The weeds around the ferny fronds is browning and looking sad, yet the asparagus survives. I’m now wondering if I should be rescuing the plants when Francis comes to clear out this mess and put them under the fruit trees? It might be very useful and fruitful mulch protection in future years…?


And meanwhile the dogs play, blissfully unaware that tomorrow Bertie and Jeff are taking a trip to the vet. Much as I love big families, there’s no way I want little Poppy to come into season and end up with Jeff (her full brother) as her baby daddy. And that’ll make another holiday job crossed off my list!

Thermomix recipe: “Leftover” quiche The gerls have started laying again so this one is perfect. Quick, simple and delicious. What more could you wish for?

This entry was posted in chickens, dehydrating food, Fruit trees, gardening, pets, Quality of life, Skinflint, solar cooking, vegetables, wicking beds. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: go forth and get wicking beds!! It’s cheaper in the long run.

  1. Cathy says:

    Congratulations – They say ‘the proof is in the pudding (or eating in your case) so you did well. All that hard work is paying off (and paying for itself lol)
    No food in my garden this year – not sure if it would have survived as even the indestructible Aggies had their leaves scorched in the heat

  2. Bek says:

    I am definitely sold on the wicking beds. Now I just have to figure out how much work it will be to convert my raised beds, or whether it will be better to just find somewhere to build some from scratch… hmmm, its a toss up. I still have lots of apples that made it through unscathed. I think when the trees are bigger and will put out more growth for shade there will be less fruit casualties. I hope.

  3. Liz says:

    I found that the things which survived the heat best in my garden were the ones that were mulched the most heavily. I reckon its all about keeping the roots cool and moist – either by both mulching really thickly and/or by using wicking beds. My neighbours two eucalypts which shade my garden for much of the afternoon also helped…. I’ll resume whinging about them this week though – now that the temperature has dropped.

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