Father in-law delivered some apple crates on Friday (thanks Vern!). Got 2 out of the three set-up as wicking beds this weekend. WIll do the third one sometime during the week if I can get home early from work. Basically, the crates are lined with builders plastic, drainage slots are cut out/sliced 1/2 up the crate and then the crate is filled with straw on the bottom half, then garden soil on top. The straw does compact down about 1/2. When it rains, the soil will suck up all the moisture, which will sink to the bottom of the crate. This then wicks up through capilary action, the root zones of the plants. If there is a massive downpour, the water will flow out of the drainage slots in the plastic lining. Wicking beds are reported to be 30-50% more water efficient than traditional dirt gardening. With summer coming up, it will be interesting to see how well it works. I moved our strawberries up to one of the crates and these should fruit and spread over the next season. Being so high up, I am hoping that bugs, snails and slugs don't get to them. It will also be interesting to see which strawberry patch produces more, the wicking bed or the AP one. In anycase, the damn pine tree that was sucking all the goodness and water out of the dirt vegie patch can now suck another patch of earth dry the bloody thing!
Have included a pic of a wicking bed we made about 1month ago. Filled with carrots!