Wicking Garden — Above Ground

While doing my blog read last night, I came across yet another technique used to build a garden bed.  Another brilliant idea not thought about by me!  Jocelyn of the Nesting Spot wrote a great blog post on the wicking garden.  It was so good, in fact, that I had dreams about it last night.  So guess what the first thing I did this morning was?  (Hint:  It wasn’t laundry and there are still dishes stacked in the sink.)

Here’s the gist of a wicking garden:

  • like hydroponics, it waters from the bottom up
  • it is essentially self-watering; fill as needed
  • the reservoir, underneath the planting medium, gets filled through a pipe
  • the soil stays uniformly moist but not wet
  • water is conserved and only lost through plant absorption and surface evaporation
  • weeds and grasses stay out
  • earthworms can be incorporated (I may do this)
  • no standing water, no mosquito worries

Her post has a video of how to build one using a plastic bin, some tumbled glass (recycled), burlap, and bamboo.  I “Texas-engineered” mine to use the space I had, make my bed a little bigger, use up supplies I already have available, and to choose the proper real estate in my garden with both full sun and shade from the ligustrum trees from the hot afternoon sun (for lettuce greens).

I was so gung-ho that I didn’t take any pictures.  By the time I thought to take pictures, I was way too dirty to handle a camera.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Gathered up a wheelbarrow full of brick (leftover from when my house was built), black contractor plastic, a cutting shovel and an excavating shovel.
  2. Formed with the brick the general outline of my new wicking bed.
  3. Cut about an inch inside the brick (leaving a “lip”) with the cutting shovel about 6″ down.  Moved the brick out of the way.
  4. Excavated roughly 4″ of soil.  I spent a good amount of time picking the Bermuda grass out of it so I could reuse the soil elsewhere, I also harvested a couple of handfuls of earthworms and relocated them to my lasagna bed.  Get to work little buddies!
  5. Lined the hole with the black plastic, overlapping about a foot and a half, being extra careful not to tear it.
  6. Filled it with water to see how level my ground is and that it will hold water (i.e. no holes).  This is important.
  7. Built my brick wall on the outside perimeter and brought the black plastic up two bricks high.  The plastic is tucked between the 1st and 2nd rows of bricks so that the level of the water is now 6″ deep.
  8. Inserted two 1″ PVC pipe pieces as drain pipes where the level of the water is.

I just went and checked it and it doesn’t appear to be leaking, so I’m off to get some pea gravel which will fill the “water area.”  Woo hoo! I will finish it up tomorrow when my dump truck full of compost and mulch is delivered.  I will post photos then.

Happy Gardening!

11 thoughts on “Wicking Garden — Above Ground

    1. You should build a smallish one and put it on your back porch. Put some lettuces and herbs (things you pick when you need) in it and see how it goes. Your kids can water by filling the pipe — no over-watering by a “helping” toddler!


  1. Wow, aren’t you industrious! I’m glad you were able to use things you have on hand. That is definitely a great thing about this type of garden. I can’t wait to see your pictures and hear how it works for you!


    1. Well, it’s raining this morning, so no pictures, and no compost. And I took quite a bit of flack from my husband last night for not staying “focused” on other things (what needs to get done), but he quickly forgave me when I served him up a hot dinner. How can I focus on anything with all that in my head? Thanks, Jocelyn. LOL

      Plus, after a week of vacation I really needed the exercise. I love the shovel, the hoe, and the rake. My solution to avoiding back problems later in life: using it as often as possible, keeping the muscle frame around the spine strong and sound.


      1. Maybe I should put a warning at the bottom of my post to tell people that it may make them drop what they’re doing and run outside to make a garden bed.


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