1 way to build a wicking garden bed

Before and after
Wicking garden bed illustration
Wicking garden bed cross section

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Layout design for 8 wicking garden beds
Layout design for 8 wicking garden beds

Building wicking garden beds was a new thing for me. The idea of this self- contained raised bed is that it saves a lot of water through capillary action by supplying water from the bottom up.

Some of the benefits of wicking garden bed:

  • It prevents evaporation
  • self-watering
  • drainage during heavy rains
  • tree roots don’t reach soil

The timber for the garden beds was ordered from Dovetail Timber in Tasmania. Very solid 250 x 160 cm frames stacked together reached 60cm of height.

For this wicking garden bed plan I simply leveled the surface of the ground with a shovel.

Outlining and leveling each garden bed
Frames for the garden beds from Dovetail Timbers
Had to grind half a dozen stumps. Hands vibrated for a while afterwards.
Tools of choice
Protection for the Timber. Gives a nice colour and probably few extra years.

Apply protective coating for the wicking garden bed frames with protective oil (Description of Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil).

Protection for the parts of the timber that are underground
Apply 1-2 coatings for the parts of the timber that are underground

The parts of timber that are against and under the ground a stronger protection was used. (Description of Diggers Eco in-ground Timber Protecta)

Project underway

Before you start applying coating to vertical corner post remember to round the sharp edges and splinters with f.ex sand paper. This way at the bug nets will stay in better shape for longer.

Painting setup
Bottom layer of timber on leveled ground.
Bottom layer of timber on leveled ground. At this point if you want you can decide which corner will have the overflow for the water reservoir and level the inside ground of the frame leaning slightly towards that corner. This way the water reservoir will get emptier if water is drained. Leave the ground where the actual frames lie in perfect level.
First frame assembled
All frames assembled
Detail shot of the garden beds frames
Tightening corner screws carefully. I recommend using a drill at the end.
Vertical pieces were dug about 10cm deep

Place the wooden poles to each corner and center of the short edges. Screw them to the frame using screws and L-brackets. I dig small holes for the vertical posts and buried them 10cm deep. Stomp the earth tightly around the poles.

Installing the corner posts and the horizontal beam.
2 L-brackets were used to secure the corner posts
Tools for the interior work of the garden beds
Drills needed to make a hole to the garden bed frame
First a bigger hole about 1cm deep

Drill hole to the corner where you wish to have the water outflow of the wicking garden bed. First drill a bigger hole for the plastic nut and then a smaller one for the hollow plastic bolt.

Testing that the hole is deep enough

We found that by placing an extra plastic nut inside the frame the overall pipe system felt more solid. Like any phase of the project there are many ways of doing things. This one seemed like a good idea.

Smaller hole through the garden beds frame

The drill sizes I used were slightly too small so some tweaking was required for the overflow pipe to fit the hole.

Placing the bottom layer of geotextile. (ignore the plastics under the textile. Also no need to bring the bottom layer that high.

Cut pieces of geo-textile large enough to cover the bottom of the frame. I used staple gun to attach the textile to the timber. It made other phases of the project easier to do. The idea  for geo-textile being on the bottom is to protect the water reservoir from getting punctured by small stones or roots etc…

Plastic nut and rubber gasket before placing the water reservoir plastic
Plastic for the water reservoir. Place the plastic container tarp inside the frame. It helps if you measure and draw where the corners more or less should be.

Placing the plastic water container / reservoir takes time and is quite annoying. It helps to draw lines where each side is suppose to go and mark the corners to make this part of the job more straight forward.

Placing the plastic is sometimes tricky
Placing the plastic is sometimes tricky
Pieces for each overlow / emptying system. 1 rubber gasket and plastic nut missing from the photo (the 2 items on the right of the photo).
The emtpying / overflow valve would look something like this
Puncturing a whole to the water reservoir plastic

Cut a hole through the geotextile and plastic tarp so the water outlet reaches the inside of the water container. Clean the gaskets, the plastic and glue everything together. Apply just the right amount of tightness so that everything glues together nicely. Who knows how tight is ´just right´…

100mm SLOTTED(!) drain pipe. 16 meters long fully extended
Geotextile, plastic reservoir, 6mm river pebbles & slotted drain pipes.
After the slotted drain pipe is installed the garden bed is filled with 6mm river pebbles. Roughly 1 cubic meter of river pebbles per bed.

Fill the plastic water reservoir with 6mm river pebbles to the top level of the first long edged timber. Almost a 1m3 of pebbles was used for each wicking garden bed (20cm height).

Try to avoid letting the pebbles fall into the drain pipe and overflow pipe.

Valve to empty the water reservoir and the overflow tube before cutting it to the right length
Sometimes the plastic doesn’t bend nicely around the middle vertical post
Pebbles filled to the top of the first crack of the garden bed frame (20cm deep). Lacks leveling.

Cut the excessive plastic away and level the pebbles.

Install a new layer of geo-textile on top of the pebbles. Try to cover all the spaces between timbers. This way the soil will not accumulate so easy between the timber. I used quite a few staples to put the geo-textile nicely. You can also use short nails.

Cutting geotextile
Using staple gun to secure the geotextile to the beds (optional).

 

This layer of geotextile is to separate the pebbles from the soil. Ready for soil.
Filling material: Coir Power. 1-2 per bed.
Coir after and during a good soak
Filling material: about 1 bail of hay per bed. Filling also included half a bail of rotten hay per bed.
Filling material: 1 cubic meter of Mushroom compost per bed.

I filled the frames with fresh and old hay, mushroom compost (1m3), soil that was removed while leveling the ground, old chicken poop soil and coir. What is your weapon of choice?

8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
After the project was done

Soil mixture
Wicking garden bed filled with soil
Eat well!
Have fun!

If you have any questions of comments you can write on the ‘comments’ section.

No two minds dance alike

Warm evening night

Free people are everywhere and they judge no one. The place to find them this time was Koh Phangan. Surpisingly writing about what happened would do no justice to your own explorations and experiences. The island is full of love and to navigate it you just let go of comparison, be happy and go partying.

Braiding before dancing
Braiding before dancing
I met beautiful souls on the ferry to Koh Phangan. They gave me roof over my head, fed me and showed me smiles. When leaving the island I felt in debt, humbled. There were lessons all the time. Actually they were more like blessings all the time. The island puts you into a common wave length with it’s occupiers.
Braiding before dancing
Just around the corner from Eden
Beach and beauty
Beach and beauty
Weeks rolled with no breaks, only love and unity with a human twist. Every moment was a chance to grow if you let go of the assumption of knowing. Where you grew was up to you but when surrounded with loving souls the knots in your ego started dissolving. Call it telepathy or mind reading or what ever – it seemed to be everywhere.
Fishermen heading home
Fishermen heading home
Surely all this sounds a bit over the top crazy, and that is the point of all of it. There is no particular reason why you would want to go to the same beach every sunset to enjoy the atmosphere. There is no point to partying without sleeping. Yet all that and more seemed like the perfect thing to do when the time and place aligned.
Boat rides can get bumpy
Boat rides can get bumpy
Food and views surround the island
Food and views surround the island
Blessings All The Time
Blessings All The Time
After Eden it's too late to sleep
After Eden it’s too late to sleep
Snack stop
Snack stop
The island is mostly known for it’s Full Moon Parties. That is just the tip of an upside down iceberg. Different kinds of parties are everywhere.
Contemplating
Contemplating
Dj David
Dj David
Sunrise at Ban Sabai
Sunrise at Ban Sabai
Music and people give you energy. Applying that energy to external efforts allows creation of new things and ideas. Koh Phangan has many yoga retreats, workshops and temples where to slow down, listen and breath.
Buddha Beach
Buddha Beach
Visa days on my passport were running low and change was in the air.
East coast Sunday
East coast Sunday
Bus to the other side of Thailand was an easy option. I had heard of a place that was great for climbing. Physical exercise was indeed a complete opposite to the previous place yet people were as open and honest as before. Dancing is liberating but climbing required discipline and that was exactly what was missing from Koh Phangan. From free spirits to body control on high walls. Life is beautiful.
Beach somewhere in Krabi on low tide
Beach somewhere in Krabi on low tide
Holding on to a small piece of stalactite or letting the music take over are two sides of the same coin. Being in total control yet adapting to the external stimulus and finding the harmony that keeps shifting. I tried climbing hard routes lacking the strength and the experience and quickly realized how hard the climbers needed to work.
Holding on as hard as I could
Holding on as hard as I could
After weeks of climbing the skin on my fingers started getting harder, grip stronger and fighting against gravity turned into working with it. It was Tonsai at it’s best ( some parties included).
Kids playing

Moment in Mandalay

People had talked about Mandalay and I wanted to leave the place behind before I had even arrived. I thought I’d be happier that way. I was sitting on a bus from Bagan to Mandalay. The driver was pushing the throttle a bit too much.

The dusty and dry air in Bagan lead me to think that a big city like Mandalay would not be any better. It turned out I was right but there where other things that caught my attention. After buying a train ticket to Hispaw I had half a day to explore the streets of the city.
Woman washing herself in river Iravadi
Woman washing herself in river Iravadi
Evening transportation up the river Iravadi
Evening transportation up the river Iravadi

I don’t feel at ease when I walk from an ice cream bar to a shack town. Only questions without answers arise when looking at people using the murky river to wash themselves after a long day. This wide river bank was their toilet, backyard, playground, workplace and home at the same time. I tried but could not find the photo I was searching to do justice for the feeling I was experiencing.

Clash of Clans and Angry Birds got here before me
Clash of Clans and Angry Birds from Finland got here before me
Kids playing
Kids playing
Smaller branch of the river in Mandalay
Smaller branch of the river in Mandalay
Boy washing his feet
Boy washing his feet
Woman selling street food in Mandalay
Woman selling street food in Mandalay

I was passing through on this random search for sunsets and beauty when most of the world was looking to feed their families and stay healthy in conditions where the odds where not in their favor. A stone throw away from a shack town an amusement park was being build.  Roller coaster and karaoke bar with neon lights across the street was too strong of a contrast for me to digest.

Men looking at construction work behind the fence
Men looking at construction site behind the fence
I took the photos and walked away.
4a.m the train rolled out of Mandalay.
Beautiful people lived in that city.

4 a.m
4 a.m
Some guide-book worthy famous bridge
Some guide-book worthy famous bridge
Tourist carriage of the train
Tourist carriage of the train
Mountain village close to Hsipaw

Idols and altars in Myanmar

What is a tv but a modern day altar that we worship by giving it our time and attention. There is no interaction only pre filtered exposure to our senses.

 

Barcelona or some other big European football team was playing at 3:30 a.m local time. The teahouse in the outskirts of Mrauk-U was packed with young men staring at the screen. When our bus pulled over the men rushed to ask if anyone needed an accommodation or a ride somewhere and then returned to watch the game. The +12h bus ride  had been one of the most painful ones I could remember. Stretching first body and then mind with milk tea and moving frames felt like heaven. 

The teahouse in Pyay was full. Myanmar Idols was starting. I pointed my chair away from the screen and started watching faces while listening to the voices of the future. The proven concept broadcasted it’s gospel from the LED altar. People from all ages were glued to their seats sipping tea while the busy road behind kept spreading the dust and gasoline fumes.

Mountain village close to Hsipaw
Women at morning prayer
On the hills close to Hsipaw the the sun was still behind the horizon when the villagers started walking up the hill. At the top is a buddhist temple where people pray each morning for 40 minutes. Many return there to pray several times a day.
Monks walking with their food powls
Monks walking with their food powls
Man meditating in a temple in Pyay
Man meditating in a temple in Pyay
So which altars and tv shows are good for you and which are bad? The question seems irrelevant. Maybe what matters is what we do after this single focused attention. To which direction do we point our thoughts, words and actions? What was learned at the altar? Time was given so something was received.