Healthy Kids

Wicking box

Live in a hot, dry area? These wicking boxes will be your best gardening secret.

Written by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

The term ‘wicking’ refers to the water reservoir in the bottom of the boxes below the soil; water ‘wicks’ up from this reservoir through the soil to the plant roots. It is a way of targeting water at the very part of the plant that needs it most – the roots – and reducing the evaporation that occurs when we water from the top of the soil. It is a great system for hot and dry areas, so for much of Australia in summer!

These wicking boxes are excellent for soft-leaved herbs like basil or coriander, as well as lettuces, chervil or Asian greens. Try as many plants as you like and see for yourself what grows best.


What to do

    1. Clean the box.

    2. Drill a hole in either end of the box, about 10 cm up the sides from the bottom, to act as an overflow.

    3. Cut the PVC pipes with the saw, so they finish about 15 cm above the soil line.

    4. Drill some holes into the bottom third of the pipe.

    5. Ask someone to hold the pipe upright inside the box (toward one end), while another person fills the box to about 5–8 cm with the washed gravel or bark chips.

    6. Lay a piece of shade cloth or hessian, cut to size, inside the box on top of the gravel. It should touch the sides, acting as a barrier between the gravel and the soil.

    7. Fill the box with soil, finishing about 5–8 cm from the top.

    8. Plant your seedlings and add some mulch.

Written by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a not-for-profit charity whose vision is to see children form positive food habits for life. The Foundation provides the inspiration, information, professional development and support for educational institutions to deliver pleasurable food education, in conjunction with educators, partners and the wider community.

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