Wicking Bed Container Gardening

Wicking Bed Container GardenThis year I plan on doing a little beyond hydroponics but stay in the alternative gardening. With water being a bit pricey here and California is in a drought I’ve been looking at ways to do soil gardens while conserving water as well. Hydroponics uses a fraction of the water used in a traditional soil garden so I wanted to do the same outside the greenhouse. Also one of the main reasons I started hydroponics is our ground is crap for gardening.

So I’m starting off with a couple container wicking beds.

The theory with this is you build a reservoir under the soil that you can top off from above through a pipe. The water will “wick” upwards to the roots allowing the plants to take what they need. No surface water so very little evaporation. You therefore use a lot less water than traditional gardening and watering.

I’ve attached a video below of the build of my first one but incase you can’t here me so well here’s the simple run down of the build.

First of course you need a container of some kind. I had a couple 31 gal totes laying on my shed that were perfect size. To fill and hold the water you next need some type of pipe. I had a 10′ piece of 3″ sever pipe that I purchased last year for the hydroponics but it didn’t work out so well. Cutting on length to go on the bottom of the tote I then drilled many holes to facilitate the spread of water. Be sure when you drill them that they are smaller than your gravel pieces or else you will have to but a fabric sock over the pipe. Next cut piece would be used to add water into the bottom reservoir so it was cut just long enough to stick out the top of the tote. I completed it with an end cap and elbow to make a nice L shape.

Set that into your container and cover it up with gravel to about 1/2-1″ over the top of the pipe. You’ll next want to drill in your drain at the top of your gravel line, I used 1/2″ pac fittings I had laying around. Then lay on top of your gravel either shade cloth or landscape fabric cloth. This will allow water to go up but keep your soil from going down. Finally put in your soil mix and plant 🙂 You will have to top water till your plants get established (especially if you are doing seeds) but after they do you just fill up your pipe till you see it draining, you should only have to do once a week or so.

These two containers I’m doing corn and currently building 2 larger elevated beds (did I mention I hate bending over to garden?) for other yummies.

Whats gonna be in your wicking bed?


  1. Thanks for the great video!! I really appreciate that you fast forwarded over the parts that didn’t need to be shown. I have one question… how does the water get wicked up, after the water level drops an inch or so below the top of the rocks/bottom of the soil?
    Thanks again,

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