Just had an idea and wondered if anyone else had already tried this - I'm cycling up my first AP system now, and do not yet have wicking beds; however, I got some American Water Lotus seeds (Nelumbo lutea) and am trying to sprout them. I wondered if lotus plants would do better in a wicking bed than in a usual media grow bed. These are not lilies (i.e. do not grow only in water), and lotus plants have tubers which seem to like to grow in muddy areas with brackish water (at least the large stand of lotus plants I harvested seeds from was a shallow muddy pond...). If my lotus seeds sprout I'll first try planting them in my media beds, but due to the tuber type roots I'm wondering if I would do better to setup a wicking bed for them.
Any thoughts or anyone already been there done that?
I was wondering why?? Until I researched American Water Lotus.
Here is a link to some information: http://www.eattheweeds.com/american-lotus-worth-getting-wet-for/
I live in Western Washington and haven't researched whether this plant will grow here.
I get the impression from what little research I have done, that American Water Locus needs very wet, "feet,"
to grow, some say that it grows in shallow water.
I would think you could set up a wicking bed with an added water level to accommodate both American Water Locus and cattails. Both of these plants like wet feet. Cattails do grow here in Western Washington.
Thank you for bringing up the subject. I am always searching for edible landscape plants. I do have a fish pond that grows water lilies, why not substitute cattails and possibly American Water Locus as well and eat the produce as well as help feed the fish.
Please keep in mind that connecting a "wicking" bed to your aquaponics system should be done with extreme care and caution!!!!!
Adding a bunch of Mud and compost to your aquaponics system could greatly impact your biological oxygen demand, cloud your system and overload your bio-filtration.
Most people use wicking beds separate from their aquaponics system and they simply use some aquaponics water to irrigate their wicking beds when needed.
That said, there are some people experimenting with recirculating the water in the bottom "gravel" basins of their wicking beds with aquaponic water. It would be important to keep the compost from washing into the aquaponics system to avoid the overload danger.
Please use caution since a large load of muddy compost being introduced to a very new/young immature aquaponics could cause a host of issues that might be difficult for an inexperience aquaponics operator to trouble shoot and most of us online are also not going to have the answers since most of us are not recirculating out wicking beds with the aquaponics. And even people who are, will not be using the same compost or planting mix in their wicking beds as some one else so it will be different.
There are other ways to grow pond plants though
I grow lots of water plants in my pond plant beds. What are pond plant beds you ask, well simply put, they are raft beds that I never got rafts for. I usually use a bit of gravel in the bottom of a plant pot and plant things like water chestnuts in the gravel in the bottom of the plant pot. For water lotus, you might need a rather large plat pot or maybe drill some holes in a small stock watering tub (they make round ones that are like 20-30 gallons) and plant the lotus tuber in that with some gravel Or perhaps use a kiddie pool to grow the lotus since the round shape will let the tubers twine around making it easier to find them to harvest.
I agree. I don't see a wicking bed as a water pass-through system. Rather I see them as a water add system, with the
excess draining as overflow. A fill valve to keep the water level constant would be nice if you have a large system.
I have been thinking of using worm bins connected to a wicking bed. The water would pass through the worm bed and into the water reservoir of the wicking bed. Sort of like a constant worm tea factory.
Actually, you want the bottom of the wicking beds to occasionally dry down a little bit. Keeping them constantly topped up is likely to cause some plants issues with "wet feet" since the water in the bottom of a wicking bed really can't stay highly oxygenated.
Somehow I didn't get an email anyone replied to this discussion, so I just saw these replies! This is an idea I have for later, as I am still getting my first system up and running. 50 Bluegill arrive tomorrow!
My thought was to connect the wicking beds to the AP system, but have the coconut coir or some such wicking material barely down into a constant height water flow-through system (i.e. one intake & one outlet as part of my AP draining system). The dirt would all be above the wicking material - and I would use some kind of mesh or garden cloth to make sure the dirt doesn't come down into the water. The dirt would not be watered from above, so nothing washing down - just wicking up.
On further consideration of lotus - I think a shallow bed with just water and gravel is likely to be just as good (if not better) for lotus. However, there may be other plants which like constantly moist earth where the above mentioned wicking bed could work nicely.
My main idea for this came from an unintentional AP system I had as a kid - a terrarium/gold fish tank I setup where we planted an African Violet in the ground half of the tank. The violet put its roots down through the mesh and into the goldfish water below - it was the biggest & prettiest violet I ever grew! No surprise to you AP folks - but once I learned about AP I knew it was a good idea, I had already proved it without knowing it!