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gobug 08-12-2012 01:27 PM

Wicking Baskets for raised boxes
I made 2 wicking baskets raised garden boxes this year.

I used a 20gal trash can with a swamp cooler floating valve inside as the water supply. Water comes in from a spigot. Water goes out of the trash can through a "hose", underground in a PVC tube then into each of the raised boxes. The water level in the trash can and the raised boxes stays equal. I have set the level to be about 10 gallons in the trash can.

Each wicking basket box holds 3 totes. The first box uses 12gal totes, the second uses 10gal totes.

The totes are in reservoirs made using broken fence panels and an old billboard fabric.

The totes in the first box have (2) 5in diameter hydroponic planters in each. The water level is about flush with the bottom of the totes, hence, the hydroponic planters are submerged. These planters are lined with Coir.

In the second box, instead of hydroponic planters, I drilled 1/4" holes and inserted an athletic fabric. I tested the fabric by putting one end in a beaker and seeing how high the water would be wicked. It went up about 5-6 inches. So I cut 1 yard of the fabric into strips and put some in each tote. The water level is close to the bottom.

The second box is performing better. UV is damaging all the totes. I don't like the overflow drainage in either 1 or 2.

I will make a box 3 this fall learning from my initial flubs. I will not use billboard fabric for the reservoir. I will use an under-the-bed, 66qt tote for the reservoir ($19 @ WalM). I will make the soil box portion a single planter instead of using 3 totes (UV has damaged the totes). I will use fiberglass siding to line the planter ($34 for a 4x8sheet @ bigbox). The reservoir will be removable without disturbing the dirt and plants.

Since the trash water supply is below a drain spout, I will allow for rain water (not common here) to go into the trash can.

The overflow control for box 3 will be an overflow tube from swamp cooler parts. It will be similar, but easier to install than the box 2 version. The box 1 version is just a hole in the side of the reservoir.

This year I am growing tomatoes. They are now above my head.
A trellis is attached for support. I think I can modify the trellis and make it become a cold frame.

I like that I do not need to worry about whether the plants are getting enough water. It is automatic.

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