Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Earthbox capsicums & wicking bed progress

Earthbox update

The three capsicum plants are all doing well - and they're all fruiting:

The plant on the left is producing two fairly large, standard-looking capsicums:

The centre plant has one fruit at the moment, and although it's a bit longer & thinner, it still looks pretty much like a standard capsicum:

The plant on the right - the tallest of the three - is producing something quite different:

And, of course, being the methodical gardener that I am (shut up - stop laughing!) I have no idea where the label from the punnet has gone. I think they were all supposed to be the same variety, but clearly they're not. Lucky I like surprises :)

Wicking beds

After much research & thinking & talking, the wicking beds are finally a happening thing.

Today we went from timber* & couch grass-infested dirt:

We laid weedmat (can't pull out all the grass, can't nuke it, so we're going to try smothering it - or at least excluding it from the growing media), and started building (the husband & Lee the Gardener - who provided most of the labour - with the X-man as apprentice looking on). We've used coachbolts to hold it all together, and a decent drill & rattle gun made the process reasonably fast and painless.

Once the bottom sleeper course was together, the 200um plastic liner went in, followed by the ag pipe & coarse sand:

We found the end cap & the 90 degree joining piece for the pipe didn't fit properly, so we'll need to do a little digging in the sand to put the proper ones in before the soil goes on top (the kids are already convinced it's a sand pit!), but in the meantime we put together the rest of the bed walls:

And we made a start on the second bed:

I'm pretty happy with how it's all coming together.

* Yes, it's CCA (copper chromium arsenate)-treated pine. While it wasn't top of my list of materials, due to a lack of conclusive studies about arsenic leaching, we decided to use it because of durability, ease of use, availability & cost factors. The 'pool' section at the bottom is completely lined, and we're going to also staple heavy-guage plastic around the inside of the rest of the box, and drill drainage holes just above the top of the 'pool', inclined down towards the outside, so any overflow will run straight out. This fact sheet has more information, and the results of a chemical review by the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority is here. The plastic lining is recommended in both documents, and there's also evidence that any arsenic leaching is restricted to about 150mm immediately next to the timber. Root vegetables within this distance were found to have slightly raised arsenic levels, most of which was within the skin & was removed with peeling. Above ground vegetables showed no increased level (and that's without any barrier lining).


TheCrone said...

I am so excited about all that is happening at the WB!

Can't wait to see it IRL!

dixiebelle said...

Hi Karen, I was wondering if Lee, the gardener, runs a business here in ACT, building wicking beds for people? If so, would I be able to get his contact details from you? We would love to set some up in our new home, but def. need someone to help us! Thanks, Bec

karenmc said...

Hi dixiebelle - not exactly. I drew up the plans, based on information from the internet, the husband worked out what materials I needed to make it work, and Lee the gardener did most of the labour. He mainly does mowing, weeding, general gardening, etc, and has an interest in organic gardening & companion planting, but doesn't really do any design or planning work. If you want any specific info about materials, dimensions etc. I'm happy to help, and it shouldn't be too difficult to find a handyman to do some labour if that's what you need.