Monday, June 13, 2016

Wicking pots system for Solanacea

This year I am going to add some polystyrene boxes to plant tomatoes in.  Large tomatoes don't do well here - we have bacterial wilt in the soil, and I think a myriad other diseases that are commonplace here.  I like tomatoes though, and I did get some free seeds to experiment with.  I am going to try a sort of wicking bed system as in the past I have had blossom end rot as well which indicated uneven watering.   I am putting some boxes front and centre.  They are resting on the front of the the asparagus bed, making use of every inch of the garden.  I hope I wont be disappointed.

assemble what you need:

The idea is to drill a  drainage holes about a quarter of the way up the box.  Add drainage rock - I used quincam, scoria is another good one to use.

  Below this line the boxes are filled with small rocks for drainage. . Now I am not sure if there should be standing water here, or some people even use sand.  There is conflicting advice about what barrier to use above this.  I am not a huge fan of weedmat, so put a layer of chux cloth - water will wick through it, and it is what I had available.

Into each bin I spread some crushed eggshells and a few comfrey leaves - all things I have read will help with this battle against bacterial wilt.
On top of that I put my soil, and in the interests of not using any of my own soil or compost, I used a mixture of :  Crusher dust, potting soil, and pelletized organic fertilizer.

One one side of each box I have a tube for watering - you can see  the level, so that the box will always have water available for the plant.
Update:  Here you can see parsley growing well in a wicking bed, and the eggplant have done well for a couple of years, not getting the bacterial wilt, so my experiment works well!

 This soil never seemed to dry out - the surface was always moist - now that has to be a good sign...
At last the wicking bed experiment has begun....

Updated with new photos July 2016


  1. From what I understand blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. To rectify that I usually add bone meal to the soil before planting my tomato seeds, and "rinse" out all my milk bottles onto the ground below my tomatoes. Also, add banana skins to the soil - tomatoes love them :)

  2. I have experienced the same with my self watering wicking containers. Reduced bugs, no weeds, use way less water, Every piece of fertiliser stays available to the plant, low or no water based fungus or pests. My wicking boxes are slightly different designed to hold more water and no need for water mediums or barriers per se.


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