How To Make A Wicking Bed Container Garden
Between the snow, the rain, and the droughts I never know when and what to plant in Nebraska.
I mean seriously, I tanned in my lawn the same week my school canceled for snow.
How the heck am I supposed to start a garden when Mother Nature seems so vehemently against it? I have found a way.
So, for those of you who can’t trust your local meteorologist, (and really who can) or those of you like myself, who are renting and thus not allowed to tear up your landlord’s lawn, I present to you the pest-resistant, water-efficient wicking garden beds.
The theory behind wicking garden beds is quite ingenious. You’re essentially gardening from the bottom up; the same way you build a structure and cook your meals.
In your typical garden, water is wasted as only a fraction of that precious H2O actually reaches the roots.
So, not only are you wasting your time, you’re wasting your water. And as we’ve all learned, nothing in this world is free.
You’ll be paying for that wasted water at the end of the month whether your garden blooms or not.
I hate wasting time, the only thing I hate more is wasting money. So if I can ensure a successful harvest of veggies, (tomatoes are my favorite) while saving up to 50% more water I’m darn sure going to do it.
What you will need:
large plastic tote
At least two PVC pipes
PVC elbow attachment
A bag of gravel or rocks
Wicking garden beds can be started in a large plastic tote, which can be transported easily should storm clouds start to creep in earlier than you expected. You’ll also require at least two PVC pipes, a PVC elbow attachment, a bag of gravel or rocks, shade cloth, and of course soil.
Once you have the required materials, it’s time to break out the power drill. Take one of your pipes and drill in a series of holes. Once the holes are in place, use the elbow attachment to connect both pipes to each other, creating an “L” shape.
Now you’re ready for step two. Lay your pipes down in the tote, leaving the top exposed.
While PVC pipes are fairly sturdy, I don’t recommend just dumping your bag of rocks straight onto it. Rather frame your pipes and gently set them on top.
These will keep your pipes in place and prevent the clogging of your holes. The rocks or gravel should be a ½ inch to an inch above the pipe.
Once your gravel is arranged, you’ll need to create a drain. You can use pac fittings or a corrugated drain pipe.
The drain will be directly above your layer of gravel and will keep your plants from getting waterlogged.
In order to allow your rocks to do their job, you’ll need them separate from the soil. To do this, you’ll need a landscape or shade cloth cut to size to lay over the rocks.
Finally, you’re ready to add the soil. Add as much soil as you’d like or as much as your tote can contain.
From here on out, it’s just you and your hopefully green thumb. Add in your seeds, wicking garden beds are ideal for flowers and veggies alike. Once your seeds are planted, pull the garden hose loose and fill the exposed pipe.
You will know exactly when to stop thanks to your drain, when it starts to drip stop the water.
I recommend purchasing a cap for your piping to keep rainwater from flooding your precious plants.
No sense in a water-efficient garden if it’s going to flood. I won’t lie to you. The cost in creating a wicking garden bed of your own will be higher than that of a typical garden.
While ideal for inconsistent climates and rental properties, it is not for everyone.
Weigh the pros and cons and only you know what’s going to work for you.