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After watching the new Murry video I am interested in making a wick bed. Has anybody tried one?

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Wicking beds can work with a variety of depths and configurations.  Some will have a tube where you can look in and see if there is still water in the bottom.  Others don't bother with that.

I expect that you wouldn't want to make a wicking bed deeper than perhaps 600 mm since as Frank points out, water can only wick up so well so you probably don't want to make the soil layer much more than 300 mm and make up the rest with the water holding layer.

 

Some people will go to lengths to fill the bottom with specific things and cover with a landscape fabric layer or something and put the soil on top.  I've done wicking beds where the bottom is simply coarse materials like wood chips or mulch and then I place compost on top for planting into.

 

The main point about a wicking bed is that the bottom of the container hold water but the top of the container can drain.  Any flower pot that has it's holes part way up the container rather than in the bottom, it's a wicking bed.  Pretty simple huh?

It seems to me that a wicking bed (WB) can easily be setup as part of an AP system.  Simply set it up as a constant flow such that the height of the outlet determines the maximum volume of water in the lower reservoir.  The advantage of having a constant flow setup would be that you never have to check the water level.

 

The challenge I see is that you will still need to water from the top at least until the plants have established roots down into the wetter zones.  I wonder if it would work better to water from the top with a distributed inflow as in many flood and drain systems?  Might not be the best in super arid/hot/sunny places, but it could help automate the need to water young plants.

I have been thinking along the same lines.

Averan Gale said:

It seems to me that a wicking bed (WB) can easily be setup as part of an AP system.  Simply set it up as a constant flow such that the height of the outlet determines the maximum volume of water in the lower reservoir.  The advantage of having a constant flow setup would be that you never have to check the water level.

 

The challenge I see is that you will still need to water from the top at least until the plants have established roots down into the wetter zones.  I wonder if it would work better to water from the top with a distributed inflow as in many flood and drain systems?  Might not be the best in super arid/hot/sunny places, but it could help automate the need to water young plants.

especially if you make the bottom layer gravel instead of vermiculite.

Chris Smith said:

I have been thinking along the same lines.

Averan Gale said:

It seems to me that a wicking bed (WB) can easily be setup as part of an AP system.  Simply set it up as a constant flow such that the height of the outlet determines the maximum volume of water in the lower reservoir.  The advantage of having a constant flow setup would be that you never have to check the water level.

 

The challenge I see is that you will still need to water from the top at least until the plants have established roots down into the wetter zones.  I wonder if it would work better to water from the top with a distributed inflow as in many flood and drain systems?  Might not be the best in super arid/hot/sunny places, but it could help automate the need to water young plants.

I will use black cinder. It is very cheap here and has a good wicking ability on its own.

Averan Gale said:

especially if you make the bottom layer gravel instead of vermiculite.

Chris Smith said:

I have been thinking along the same lines.

Averan Gale said:

It seems to me that a wicking bed (WB) can easily be setup as part of an AP system.  Simply set it up as a constant flow such that the height of the outlet determines the maximum volume of water in the lower reservoir.  The advantage of having a constant flow setup would be that you never have to check the water level.

 

The challenge I see is that you will still need to water from the top at least until the plants have established roots down into the wetter zones.  I wonder if it would work better to water from the top with a distributed inflow as in many flood and drain systems?  Might not be the best in super arid/hot/sunny places, but it could help automate the need to water young plants.

These are known locally here in the Chicago area as Sub Irrigated Planters (SIPs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-Irrigated_Planter and has some traction in a non aquaponics context. http://greenroofgrowers.blogspot.com/ They are used to grow on top of flat roofs in down town Chicago with great results.

 

I am lazy, and had been bouncing around making these and adding hose bibs to the containers so I can auto fill them from either rain barrels or the outdoor aquaponics system I haven't built yet. I have a few ideas in my head for both recirculating or just letting the AP water terminate in the SIPs, possibly tapped to draw the solids out of the tank into the SIPs.

 

My indoor flood and drain system actually uses SIP style pots and window planters as containers. I just ripped the bottom water tray off and set them into my grow-bed tote. I am going to try to use a tote lid and some SIP pots to do very small wicking beds as Murray called them. I just picked up the plumbing fittings on Monday to do it. My intent for this has been I am killing plants in dirt because I am not watering them. It's just a form of automatic watering.

 

Just to share with everyone, one of our Community Members have been using such techniques for some time and call it "Geoponics" Jon and Cat Billings website describes this in detail this way of growing. Now with adding a re-circulation to the grow beds /containers, you can still be considered to growing by Aquaponics means :-)

 

Just read this excellent information ...

http://backwaterprovisions.com/WickingBeds.aspx

Yes :)  One of my earliest flood & drain gravel beds had potted plants in it for a couple months.  It really worked well.  I consider that system to be aquaponics for this reason:

 

Fish effluent was used to feed the bacteria and in turn the plants.

 

Thats it.

 

Here is another link for "wicking beds". As explained in the detailed article, excess water can be reused...form an Aquaponic standpoint...re-circulated, hence this type of grow bed is an excellent addition to types of grow bed available for Aquaponics. Irrigating it  daily by Aquaponic oxygenated water and re-circulating the excess water should enable excellent vegetable & fruit growth, much better than simply watering periodically like once a week. The next link shows photos and comments / results of one way of building such beds.

 

As an addition to the grow media in the bed, I suggest that mixing some straw bale/straw (wheat, oat or rye), will help in the plant growth and wicking pricess. Just my opinion.

 

http://wickingbed.com/

 

http://www.maireid.com/wickingbeds.html

 


Happy Holidays :-)
Sahib Punjabi said:

Just to share with everyone, one of our Community Members have been using such techniques for some time and call it "Geoponics" Jon and Cat Billings website describes this in detail this way of growing. Now with adding a re-circulation to the grow beds /containers, you can still be considered to growing by Aquaponics means :-)

 

Just read this excellent information ...

http://backwaterprovisions.com/WickingBeds.aspx

I have a mild cautionary word to add for those planning recirculating wicking beds within an aquaponics system.  Make sure the system is robust and stable with plenty of filtration to support your fish load plus some extra since leaching and break down of organics from the wicking bed soil or compost could cause spikes in ammonia and/or nitrite.

 

I would not advise hooking up a wicking bed to a new system being operated by one with no experience in aquaponics or monitoring water quality.

 

While I think incorporating wicking beds into a garden is a really good idea, I think hooking them up to an aquaponics system is not a tried and true method so anyone trying it should understand they are running an experiment and things may not work out according to anyone's plans.

 

Times when I've exposed an aquaponics system to compost or potting mix has often caused an extended nitrite spike, especially if the system was not already very mature.  So when hooking up a wicking bed, be prepared for such spikes especially if the wicking bed might be exposed to water from the top in the event of rain.

Thanks...totally correct.

 

My system is a "research" system so I will keep you informed as regards progress. Nothing ventured, nothing gained..

 

Happy Holidays :-)

 

God bless,

TCLynx said:

I have a mild cautionary word to add for those planning recirculating wicking beds within an aquaponics system.  Make sure the system is robust and stable with plenty of filtration to support your fish load plus some extra since leaching and break down of organics from the wicking bed soil or compost could cause spikes in ammonia and/or nitrite.

 

I would not advise hooking up a wicking bed to a new system being operated by one with no experience in aquaponics or monitoring water quality.

 

While I think incorporating wicking beds into a garden is a really good idea, I think hooking them up to an aquaponics system is not a tried and true method so anyone trying it should understand they are running an experiment and things may not work out according to anyone's plans.

 

Times when I've exposed an aquaponics system to compost or potting mix has often caused an extended nitrite spike, especially if the system was not already very mature.  So when hooking up a wicking bed, be prepared for such spikes especially if the wicking bed might be exposed to water from the top in the event of rain.

Will be very interested in your results Sahib.

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