Learn How to Build Wicking Raised Garden Beds

We have built the frame of two raised garden beds, at Buxton Community Garden (Buxton is part of Wollondilly Council, at the base of the Southern Highlands – an hour South of Sydney, Australia).

Buxton Community Garden will now be building wicking (water reservoirs) inside the raised garden frames.  The purpose of this is to save water and help with watering – like a self watering system.

The date to build the wicking water reservoirs is September the 27th.  Everyone is welcome to come along and learn while getting involved (or welcome to just watch). This is a FREE event.  Children are welcomed and encouraged to get involved too.

For all the details check out our event listing.

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The raised garden bed frames, will soon have an inbuilt water reservoir, soil and plants.

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Organic, Child Friendly Pesticide

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While gardening with our Little One this week, I was struck by the absurdity of my teaching “spray the pesticide on just the weeds”.

Children using pesticides, sounds totally irresponsible for a parent to ordain. Right??

No sooner than the words left my mouth, I immediately sensed the need to verbalise an explaintation.

There is no need to stress, as the ‘pesticide’ was an organic, home made recipe – totally safe for little ones to give a helping hand.

One a side note, according to biology, a weed is just a plant that someone doesn’t want.  It is quite possible for one person’s weed to be another’s valued plant.

Also according to permaculture, a weed is just a plant we have yet to find a meaningful use for – our knowledge being the problem and not the weed.

This week I was killing my weeds organically and environmentally responsibly.  Tomorrow I might be actually growing weeds or at least allowing them to live, for a greater purpose.

An Even Better Way to Build Wicking Garden Beds – A Cracker of an Idea!!

From challenges, great ideas can come!!

One of the Green Square, community’s raised garden beds, has deteriorated – to the point it needs to be replaced.  You wouldn’t believe just how much research, discussion and community / council consultation the drivers of the Green Square Growers has put into coming up with a solution.

The raised garden bed was made from recycled wood.  The bed uses ‘wicking reservoir’ technology that we built inside the garden bed.  The bed also has an inbuilt worm farm.

Wicking Garden Bed - how it works diagram

Wicking Garden Bed – ‘how it works’ diagram. 

The above diagram shows the wicking garden bed design.  The challenge we have had with this design, came from the tremendous outward pressure from the water reservoir, causing the wood to bow and bend (over time).

Making smaller wicking garden beds (1 m x 1m) can help to limit the bowing of the wood but we weren’t happy with this solution.

Then Sabena and her husband Peter came up with a cracker of an idea!  Instead of using builders plastic in the wicking bed design, use a large food grade plastic container (which can be recycled and rescued from landfill).

These food grade plastic contains, are selling on Ebay (2nd hand).

These food grade plastic contains, are selling on Ebay (2nd hand).

These containers will make the whole garden bed structure stronger, less prone to leaking and hence last longer.  If repairs to the wood is needed in the future, we can easily replace the wood – as it is not part of the structure but really only has an aesthetic purpose (making the raised garden bed look pretty and traditional).

The Green Square Growers, plan to build either two or three beds together (with the timber frame built around all of the containers together – giving the illusion of one big bed).

Each garden bed will be approximately 1.3 metres x 1.1 metres.  If two are position together, then the total bed size will be 2.6 metres x 1.1 meters.  If three beds are position together, then the total bed size will be 3.9 meters x 1.1 meters.

The new raised garden bed design will require a small wooden ‘lip’ at the top to hide the plastic container – however this is only for aesthetic purposes too.

What do you think of Sabena and Peter’s cracker of an idea?

Update on Our New Community Garden Plan

Thursday night I met with those excited and dedicated to building a new community garden in our home town.

The agenda was to agree on our united vision statement and complete our grand community garden design. We achieved this with humour, fun and excitement!

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We have not only agreed on the final ‘grand design’ but also agreed on identifing what items are important to complete for stages one and two of the garden building process.

Stage One (by Sep 2015)
shown as lime green / yellow on the map plan

* First water tank to be fixed to the community hall or toilet block.

* Turning the only existing garden (in the community garden area) into a ‘no dig garden’.  Possibly upgrading the retaining wall and adding stepping stones.  This garden will be mainly herbs and benefical insect, attracting flowers plants. At the top of this garden is adjacent to an existing high, wire fence.  Therefore this area lends itself to growing beans and peas etc.

* To build at least three raised garden, wicking, worm farm beds.

* For fun, build a sign post at the entrance of the garden – signaling what is to come in the future.

Stage Two (by February 2016)
Shown as pink on the map plan

* Install a three bay compost system.

* Install worm farm / farms.

* Complete all the raised garden, wicking, worm farm beds.

*  Paving around the beds.

* Built our meeting area

Future Stages Yet to Be Confirmed

*  Non citrus fruit tree orchard
*  Nut tree orchard
*  Citrus fruit tree orchard
*  Pigs & sheep
*  Chickens and chicken run
*  Strawbale gardens
*  Glass house
*  BBQ area
*  Cob oven area
*  Aquaponics area
*  Vertical gardens
*  Notice board
*  Bush tucker area
*  Fun and creative sculptures and ‘discoveries’ for children and adults eg sundial, flags, large snake & ladder outside game etc
* Revamp and upgrade to existing children’s play ground

Buxton Community Garden Vision Statement

Together building an edible and sustainable garden that everyone in Buxton can love and belong.  A place to learn, inspire and have fun, while creating a financial way to support our community garden.

A New Space Dedicated to Growing Edibles – the Design

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Still taking it easy today with my strained back and general exhaustion (think my body is fighting a bug).

Going forward with my Mum’s help (who is visiting for a month), I am planning on tackling the first stage of our garden plan (as above) for behind the back shed /garage.  First stage is building the retaining wall – which once completed, everything else can be planted, built and completed.

I am excited to be ‘opening’ this previous overgrown and neglected area of our garden, to a creative and beautiful space dedicated to growing edible food.

What to Consider When Designing a New Community Garden?

As previously mentioned, I am again enjoying the starting stages of a new community garden.  If you have read my earlier post (click link above) you will already know, that I believe coming up with a combined, united vision statement is very important.

I have yet to again meet with the others who are committed to building our new community garden but I thought I would share my vision statement I have prepared (still a work in process).

“Together building an edible and sustainable garden that everyone in our town can love and belong.  A place to learn, inspire and have fun, while creating  financial support to care for our community hall.”

Apart from the vision statement, those committed to building the community garden, have also agreed to bring along their garden designs and plans.  I encouraged everyone to dream big and plan what the completed garden will look like.

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My grand community garden design is drawn on a very large piece of paper and stuck to our kitchen wall – so I can look and ponder, to ensure I have everything included (in the big dream).

What is included in my community garden design?

* meeting, eating, sitting area
* raised wicking beds with worm tunnels
* herb and sensory garden
* benefical insect attracting plants
* BBQ & cob pizza oven
* chickens? pigs? sheep?
* fruit and nut orchards
* water tanks
* glass house
* shed
* vertical garden
* strawbale gardens
* compost and worm farms
* aquaponics
* no dig gardens
* fun direction sign posts
* green manure plants

If you were in my position, what would you put in your community garden design?  I am looking for suggestions on what I may have overlooked.

Why is it Sustainable to Add Fun for Children in an Edible Garden?

A friend told me a story years ago that profoundly changed my attitude towards gardening and sustainability.

She described her own childhood with sustainable ‘hippie’ parents. Gardening for her as a child was a chore – always work that she, her siblings and parents needed to do in order to ensure food was on the table.

What struck me as noteworthy was now as an adult, she wants nothing to do with growing food, as she holds the belief, it is just hard work.

Her story has impacted my sustainable gardening approach.  I want dearly to create a magical and fun garden for children to love as well as a food growing garden.

Perhaps when building a sustainable edible garden, including fun ‘spaces’ for children is the most sustainable thing we can do – to inspire the next generation.

Fun, inspirational, magical, colourful, creative and beautiful is just as important for our garden, as sustainable and practical.

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Every day I am adding new, exciting and fun items for our Little One to discover and interact with in the garden.  These little birds have been ‘liquid nailed’ to our recently repaired back deck rails.  I watched and waited till she saw them – her reaction was pure joy (for me and her).