Wicking beds are becoming more and more popular as an easier and more efficient method for growing fruits and vegetables. Rather than the traditional downward drip or spraying method, wicking beds allow water to spread from the bottom up giving plants the water they need and nothing more. One simple way to create your own wicking bed is with some Styrofoam or rammed earth covered in stucco.
The customers who built these wicking beds explained their process. “This was 1″ styrofoam sprayed with basalt fiber impregnated ferrocement mix. Use hole to fill with water. Pea gravel below hole, then landscape cloth. Water wicks upwards to plants. Rain water is also captured. Hole also serves as overflow. Growth has been excellent, and have only filled once. I’m not sure I even needed to fill it, but I was near with a hose. Can add urine to hole for additional wickable fertilizer. The hole is turning out to be a more elegant solution than the piping used for other solutions.”
“Second larger bed in the distance was made with rammed earth then sprayed with basalt fiber ferrocement. Roving wrapped around outside, then sprayed again. We found that the effort to use rammed earth was greater than the embodied energy benefit of using earth.”