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Mini wicking beds

 Mini wicking beds

Here is an easy project. This is a great project to do with the kids or as your first gardening project. Its also a handy idea for renters or those with limited space. They also make a great gift. We made ours for about $13 each, the only costs were the potting mix and the seedlings. Seeds would made this even cheaper! They are also relatively light to move, so you ca shift them around the garden as the weather changes.

Materials (per box)

  • styrofoam broccoli box  (free from most supermarkets or green grocers)
  •  scoria or gravel (you could try woodchips but they will break down over time and need replacing)
  • section of shadecloth (or geotextlie material or old fabric)
  • section of tube (we used a soft drink bottle, substitutes could be a section of conduit, bamboo etc, but you need a bigger diameter than a hose to make watering easy)
  • short section of hose (approx 4-5 inches, optional)
  • soil (approx 1 bag potting mix pot per box)
  • seedlings/seeds
  • mulch

Note: feel free to use different materials, just look around you…you may be able to substitute it with something you already have.

Step 1


Evenly spread approx 3 inches of scoria in base of box.





Step 2


We made a tube to deliver the water to the scoria by removing the top and bottom of a small soft drink bottle, then made a vertical cut and then rolled the bottle up into a smaller tube. We then used sticky tape to hold it tight. Place in one corner.





Step 3

image We used two layers of old shadecloth to keep the soil separate from the scoria. You could use almost any type of porous fabric.





Step 4


Cut a small hole just at the top level of the scoria. If you want you can add a section of old hose, if you are really keen you can use silicon to seal the hole (we didn’t). The hose is not essential, but the hole for overflow is essential. We tucked the hose under the shade-cloth after the photo to help avoid blockages.





Step 5

imageimage Fill boxes with soil, cover upright water delivery tube to prevent soil blocking it.





Step 6

imagePlant with your favourite vegetables. We did three different boxes. All boxes had marigolds as a companion plant and just cos they look pretty. The boxes are pretty densely planted so be ready to add some liquid feed later in the season!

1. tomato and basil (we used a small tomato suited for pots, some basil plants)

2. french dwarf bush beans and lettuces

3. swiss chard and spring onions


Step 7


Water seedlings in until the overflow hose runs. Mulch the top for even better performance.

Sit back and admire your handiwork.

These wicking boxes will perform far better than most pots, as they are self-watering, and the styrofoam helps to shield the plants from the heat.


Other planting ideas are:

  • sow with baby spinach seeds,
  • whole box of cut and come again lettuces
  • herb box with parsley, thyme, coriander, sage

Happy Gardening!

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