Making a small wicking bed
Category: Food Production
Climate Region: Arid | Temperate | Tropical
State or Territory: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA
Age Range: 7-13


Anne, the local Landcare leader invited Ms Gorman and the Junior Landcare group to meet at their local community garden one day after school. Beth, Hayley and Eliza noticed that there were plenty of garden beds similar to what they recently installed at school, but there were also lots of different items that have been repurposed to grow plants including old milk bottles, gum boots and a refrigerator! Curiously, Eliza asked about the polystyrene boxes as her family used them in their farm.

Anne told the Junior Landcare group that they were small wicking beds, made to grow plants using very little water. Anne described how the wicking beds had a water reservoir which allowed the plants to draw up water as they need, meaning that she didn’t need to water the plants all the time! Anne had captured the groups’ curiosity, and proceeded to demonstrate the process. It really was not difficult!


Making and planting a small wicking bed is a fulfilling activity. It upcycles materials, building awareness of waste and reuse. The completed wicking bed can suit small spaces – such as a balcony – demonstrating that even small spaces can be used to produce food. Its small size allows children to take ownership of its maintenance. The design of the wicking bed provides opportunities to investigate scientific ideas, such as evaporation, transpiration, capillary action and plant life cycles.


For children to:

  • undertake a practical, hands-on activity
  • value water conservation in food production
  • appreciate how to use appropriate plants for a small wicking bed
  • follow the steps needed to plan, prepare, make, plant and care for the wicking bed
  • investigate the science of a wicking bed and the capillary action in soil.

Choosing the right plants for your small wicking bed is important to ensure success. You will need to select plants appropriate to the season and the size of your bed. You can talk to your local garden centre or download the Gardenate app or use the Gardenate website to help determine the timing, spacing, and other compatible plants required for your climate zone.

Did you know?

Wicking beds include a water reservoir that allows plants to draw up water as they need it.

Did you know?

The wicking beds supply water to the roots of the plants using capillary action. Capillary action draws the water up from the reservoir at the bottom of the bed.

Did you know?

A wick can be found in a candle or an old-fashioned lamp.  Wicks draw up fuel via capillary action, supplying it to the flame.

Did you know?

Polystyrene boxes can’t be recycled in your normal kerbside recycling. Some retailers, such as fruit and vegetable shops, may return their boxes for reuse. Others send their boxes to landfill or they take the boxes to dedicated collection-points to be recycled.

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