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Home Forums General Discussion Survive Drought with Wicking Beds

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    We live in a very dry climate, and all of our water comes from rain catchment.  It typically rains from July through October, but the rest of the year is dry.  So, we have to be extra careful with our water use, and especially for growing food, we look to increase our water efficiency as much as possible.

    The wicking bed has been a revolution for us.  Not only does it use less water and increase productivity, it reduces work, needing no tilling, no weeding, and generally, no maintenance.  During the severe drought of 2011, we found that our wicking beds needed about 1/2 gallon per square foot per week.  Compared to our normal garden beds, we saved about 5 gallons per square foot per week!  That is a HUGE difference.

    Our wicking beds thrived through the drought (as you can see from the photo above), where the rest of the garden was suffering, even though it was receiving more water.

    The wicking bed concept is very simple.  Create a reservoir of water below the soil, and water from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.  This reduces evaporation losses and helps to maintain a balanced soil moisture level.  Your plants will love it!

    Here’s how we built our wicking beds using cheap materials:

    We are slowly converting our entire garden to wicking beds:


    Wow, looks pretty good, I also have a rainy season where we get most of our rain, I like the idea of being able to water in one spot and getting everything… one question though, you show and say that you compact the soil as you go, why would you compact the soil? In most situations you want to avoid compacting the soil, that’s one of the benefits of raised beds, not walking on and compacting the soil…



    we filled them up with mostly half-composted material, so we have to compact it some to get a good soil in there.  you don’t want to compact it too much, just enough that it makes good contact.



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