Wicking Bed & Sheet Mulching

Wicking Bed
Facts about a Wicking Bed
 
The idea behind a wicking bed is to water from beneath not the top.
Because it is good for our water starved climate.
Any container can be used that has a sealed base eg: old fridge, bath, foam box these need to have a drain hole added about one third of the way up the side not at the bottom.
The roots of the plants do not sit in the water and it is best to have an inert material covering the water pipe area rather than organic material that rots down anaerobically (without air) and smells.
A sheet of carpet or other absorbent material covers the water layer just above the outlet hole.
 

· Water pipe can be a vacuum cleaner hose or downpipe
· Need a layer of mulch on top to reduce evaporation
· A sock held in place by an elastic band makes a good cover for the water pipe to stop mosquitos getting in
 
For a printable version click here
Sheet Mulching 

Facts about Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching is a layered mulch system that nurtures the soil and replaces
existing lawns or other vegetation, eliminating the need to remove unwanted plant material. The first layer is a biodegradable weed barrier usually cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper placed directly on the ground.
Sheet mulching is a quick and easy way to make an instant raised garden bed.
 
How to make Sheet Mulching
Lay thick newspapers or a layer of carpet underlay or wool carpet on an area and place bed inside the edge of the paper. The paper layer helps to suppress weeds.
Establish the edge of the bed by putting down a retaining material such as sleepers, bricks, rocks, poly-pipe. Put the retaining material inside from the edge of the paper to give a buffer zone for invading weeds. Try not to have treated wood or check on treatment chemicals to see if any potentially toxic.
Sprinkle with bentonite clay (clumping kitty litter) to help water holding capacity.
The idea is to have layers of ‘carbon’ and ‘nitrogen’ rich materials, well watered in to simulate a compost pile. Don’t use food scraps as it may attract vermin.
 
Carbon (Browns)
5 of these items below
Nitrogen (Greens)
To 1 of these items
Straw
Brown leaves
Newspaper
Dry grass
Weeds
 
Green grass clippings
Green leaves
Manure
Coffee grounds
Spent plants 

Finish with a layer of nitrogen rich material before a thick layer of mulch. The bed needs to be about 40 cm high. A good handful of rock dust sprinkled over the bed adds minerals, this can be purchased from some garden centres. The raised bed will heat up as it composts down and after about 3 months will be rich rotted compost material. However, the beds can be planted in immediately, if a small well is made in the bed and a good handful of mature compost or soil mix is used in the hole. The plants or seeds are then placed in this buffer area and by the time the roots have grown out into the composting layers the bed will be cool and not burn the roots (see below).
 




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