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Creating Wicking Gardens with Tony’s Junior Landcare Group
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Tony’s Junior Landcare group

Tony’s Junior Landcare is a village of home schooling families with a common goal to learn about nature through exploration.

When talking about the group’s objectives and vision, Tony O’Connor, who runs this Junior Landcare group in his five acre property, in Mount Martha, Victoria said, “We want the kids to grow into balanced, respectful, and caring young adults who can inspire and lead others to appreciate and draw on the richness of the natural world around them.”

During the first and second school terms this year, Junior Landcarers from this group learned “in the bush” first aid and animal care from volunteer paramedics, built boardwalks, learned to grow food gardens, learned about different species of birds, and worked in the orchard all the while learning about the environment, biodiversity and conservation.

One of the projects the children were most excited to get involved in was creating wicking garden beds. This was a fun project for the Junior Landcarers to learn how to grow food while saving water.

What are wicking gardens?

Wicking gardens are beds with a water reservoir at the base. When watering the plants, water is added directly into the water reservoir until it reaches the overflow level leaving no risk of overwatering. Top soil on the bed will remain fairly dry due to the soil below retaining the moisture.

In wicking garden beds the water is drawn by plants through capillary action; the small pores of the soil act as capillaries, allowing the water to be drawn upwards from the reservoir into the soil above.

The soil nutrients stay in the garden as they are not washed away by top watering. It also reduces the loss of water due to evaporation. The downflow of water is interrupted causing the water to reside in the soil for an extended amount of time.

The wicking garden is composed of three distinct zones from the bottom up:

1. The water reservoir

2. The zone of saturation

3. The zone of root growth.

Wicking gardens reduce water consumption up to 90% compared to ordinary raised garden beds. The beds can be left unattended for extended periods of time without any risk of damage to plants. They are perfect for young gardeners and busy lifestyles.

Each week Tony’s Junior Landcare will host a community lunch for hard working little villagers. Activities planned for this term include, learning more about local wildlife, providing habitats for vulnerable species, worm farming, composting and making charcoal for turning into biochar for the gardens.

For more information and to join Tony’s Junior Landcare group contact Tony on 040 4951 500 or email loctoc@bigpond.net.au.

Article submitted by Donna Lewis

Tony’s Junior Landcare Group

 

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