Aquaponic Gardening

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I want to find out if anyone here has tried this incredible way of growing? Please share your creations and your successes.

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Maybe I need to explain what a wick bed is, essentially its a bed with a water reservoir on the bottom that wicks water up to the soil and the roots that are above the reservoir. I have found that coco coir wicks water up wonderfully. 

I just setup my first wicking bucket up 2 days ago.  Used two 5 gallon buckets with a net pot as the wicking point.  I am using 100% compost with a little worm castings and then will add a few red worms when I am sure the compost will stay moist.  Will have to see how well it works, but so far the compost is staying moist.

I started out with a small experiment, and then built eight 4 foot by 4 foot beds,  I converted one raft bed last week and I just finished building 3 more wicking beds today.  Everything is growing really well.  They have quickly become my favorite type of grow bed.

As an experiment I have two beds on a continuous flow connected to a sump.  It's difficult to say if that is making any difference, but I like the idea that the water is constantly being aerated.

My first eight beds were filled with sand then compost and worm castings.  The soil has been wicking well, but I have begun to lighten the soil with Perlite since then. I have not added coir, but it has occurred to me as a good idea.  

I often water my beds from the top even though bottom watering is the preferred method, because I keep planting seeds, and often put cuttings into these beds.  The established plants would do fine with bottom watering only.   I also top mulched with wood chips to help retain moisture.

So far I see wicking beds as the best way to go!

Youre right bob, I love wicking beds and I have experimented with a few ways Ive never thought about aeration which always a good thing Im trying to do it with no dependency on power. I decided to take down my outdoor fish tank for a number of reasons, one being its full of algae and cant see my fish and want to convert an ibc tote into a wick bed. Rob Nash has been a huge inspiration for me and am reading all I can at the wick group.

Okay, I'm going to play dumb, what is a "wicking bed"?  if I expand my system I'd like to consider it, if it is a cheaper means compared to other media....

The three I built today will go into my greenhouse.  I will have a sump but no fish and plan to run the water in a continuous loop through the beds and then back to the sump.  The beds are 12" deep.  Rather than fill these beds with media I will place a shelf just below the surface of the water and use containers filled with media.  If I ever want to change part or all of the bed into a raft it will be a very simple change.  Using soil as my media has solved a lot of nutrient problems.

I also built a dutch bucket hydroponic system a few weeks ago and I'm growing tomatoes in straight Perlite.  I mix a 20 18 38 solution with some extra minerals just like mhpgardener does.  These tomatoes are doing as well as the ones in the wicking beds.  I have tomatoes in my bio-ponic system too.  They seem to be lagging behind, but to be fair I planted bush tomatoes in the bio-ponic system while the other beds have a variety of indeterminate tomatoes..

The hugelkulture garden is also doing very well, but it will take about three years before the buried wood begins to decay.  Then that garden will be settled in and my hope is that it will use a lot less water than a conventional garden.

Check out this super cheap idea for a wicking bed.

@Matt - It's a method that stores water below the soil.  The soil wicks the moisture up to the top.  The advantages are you use less water and there is less fluctuation of moisture.  It also is very forgiving if you miss a day or two of watering.

Matt Miskinnis said:

Okay, I'm going to play dumb, what is a "wicking bed"?  if I expand my system I'd like to consider it, if it is a cheaper means compared to other media....

Okay, but I still don't get what the "media" is, is it something like coconut husk?

@ Matt- This is one way, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIqssok6iXI

This is the other way,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teXmbXjnS6k

I am using the first method.

Matt,

The way I have always done it is use a 20 gallon container or any other container, I use individual pots even. The basic concept is to have a water reservoir about 3" deep or in our case fish water, with a floor on top of the water made of plastic. I use 3" pvc tubes that hold up the floor and are stuffed with coir that sits in the water. This way you have direct water wicking through the 3" pvc pipes into the coir layer above. I then add a 2" coir layer on top of the plastic floor. I like to use vermicompost and potting soil on top of everything to plant in. When I first started I had a tomato plant that grew at least 1" taller daily. Its too bad we got so busy at the bbq, I could have shown you my wicking beds. Let me know if you have questions.

sounds interesting, just thought that having a constant water in soil would cause root rot and things like that.  I'll be listening to see if people have success wiith it.

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