Frequently Asked Questions

  • What areas do you install your wicking beds?

    Our installation service covers most of the Melbourne metropolitan region and sometimes a little beyond. But it’s not quite that simple. Sometimes the demand for our products and services gets quite high and as we a big fans of reducing our carbon emissions and ecological footprint, our service area can shrink down to focus more on the inner north. Please reach out via our contact form to find out more information.

  • What does and doesn’t grow well in a wicking bed?

    Firstly, wicking beds are best suited to veggies.  They aren’t generally used for trees and other perennial plants although you might have a few strawberries and other shallow rooted perennials in there.  Most veggies do better in wicking beds because of the low stress, constant moisture. Some root crops, like garlic might be prone to rot in these conditions however although we’ve not had problems! And your daikon radish might not develop to a full size due to the shallow (generally 35cm or less) soil layer.

  • Do I need to line my bed all the way to the top?

    The crucial height to line to is at least the height of the overflow pipe. Any extra than that, and the plastic isn’t being used as a water reservoir. That said, when we do wicking bed installations, we line our beds almost all the way to the top of the bed. While that’s not necessary, extra liner increases the life span of the timber.

    Our Custom Wicking Bed Conversion Kit Calculator will give you enough liner to go all the way to the top of your bed just like we do. This also gives you a little extra to play with when installing, so less can go wrong. If you check out our standard sized kits (Wicking Bed Conversion Kit: Small and Wicking Bed Conversion Kit: Large) we mention the maximum sized bed you can do with our kits. In this case the liner will go to within 10cm of the top of the bed. So if you didn’t line it this high, you could create an even larger bed.

  • What happens when the water level drops well below the soil? How does it get up through the stones?

    In the VEG wicking system, when the water reservoir is full, the water touches the geo-textile, and creating a wet blanket, and is sucked up into the soil via capillary action.

    The screenings themselves actually wick water upward to a certain extent, thus contacting the geotextile fabric and wetting the blanket, even after the water level has dropped below full. In our research we have observed the wicking effect up the screenings themselves to be up to 10cm:

    screenings-wick-too

    We use a specific kind of gravel – 7mm bluestone screenings or 1/4 (inch) minus in the old tongue – for three reasons:

    1) it is inert or close enough to it so won’t decompose, therefore it will

    2) hold up the soil! and

    3) still have enough room between the pieces for lots of water.

    To round it all out, the enclosed nature of the wicking reservoir, regardless of how much or how little water is retained, creates conditions for humidity and condensation to occur (especially in warm weather when the plants most need that moisture). We don’t know if this has been studied or not, but it does help explain why the plants in our wicking beds remain happy even as the water level drops below the extent to which the screenings may wick water up to the geotextile fabric. We think water, even from the lower reaches of the reservoir, condenses on the underside of the geotextile fabric, then wicks up the standard height (30-40cm) into soil. Hence the fact that the many beds we build in this way all work so well.

  • Is your liner non-toxic?

    Our liner is certified potable-water grade and especially produced to line the likes of public drinking water reservoirs. It’s also tough and hard to accidentally puncture when installing. You can read more about it here.