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Old June 17, 2011   #143
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 1

First post and short time lurker. Really keen to get some tomatoes growing here in Adelaide, Australia. Have been doing a bit of research (i.e. spending lots of time on the internet) on garden bed designs and different watering systems. So I started to build some testers before I build 6 3000mm x 1000mm x 600mm growbeds.

In the attached picture you can see a wicked (as in wick) garden pot, i.e. self watering pots. The idea came from here. I bought 2 x 200 litre barrels and got them cut in half by my next door neighbour. The bottom half is filled with either sand or gravel with perforated tubing coiled in it (the tubing comes up to the surface). This acts as a reservoir for the water. Weed sheets are then placed on top of the sand or gravel and then it is filled up with soil. Water can only be soaked up 30 centimetres, which is sufficient room for the roots of 99% of vegetables. Watering only needs to take place about once a week. If a plant is a thirsty bugger, then it just uses up the water faster. If a plant only needs conservative amounts of water, it only soaks up enough that it needs - it doesn't get soaked in water. If it rains or I fill the tubing with too much water the excess runs off via the white pipe on the side.

The PVC pipe that you see is a worm tower. The bottom of the pipe has been drilled with holes so that worms can go in an out. I fill the tower up with dog poo (not when they are wormed though), newspaper, decaying leaves, food scraps (no potatoes or citrus) and a bit of hay. I bought some worm eggs and put them in the tower along with some spent grain that had been composting for a month or so. From what I understand, the worms that you see in the garden are solitary worms that like to burrow deeper in the ground. For the worm tower you really need proper composting worms, which are red and smaller. The idea with the worm tower is that the worms compost the materials I put in there and spread their worm castings and aerate the soil via the holes at the bottom of the PVC pipe.

So they are basically a self watering self fertilizing vegetable pot. I would have made much larger beds (3m x 1m) but I am renting at the moment and don't want to put too much time and effort into a place that I isn't mine (and is going to get ripped down in a few years any way). The only downside that I have found is that if you plant seeds you need to water them via hand. The top soil is usually dry, which is great because weeds won't grow, but it makes it hard to germinate seeds proper. Some seedling trays and a little green house solves that problem (well, until the wind comes and knocks it over *shakes fist*).

Next project - Aquaponics


Last edited by Phil; June 17, 2011 at 10:07 PM.
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