What to do in your wicking bed this month - April 21

Posted: 13th Apr 2021 by Eric Sturman

Sowing the seeds to grow the greens in your wicking bed

Now, what are the advantages of sowing seeds over just buying seedlings? While seedlings save you about 4 to 6 weeks in time, you are significantly restricted in what you can grow.

This blog will focus on the advantages of sowing seeds over just buying seedlings for your wicking bed. Now is a good time to start so that you have an array of seedlings for spring planting.

The advantage to seedlings is time saving. The seedlings you see in the store are about four to six weeks ahead of the seeds you sow on the same day. However, there are a number of disadvantages to buying seedlings. Seeds offer an enormous selection of different varieties, while with store bought seedlings you are restricted to what looks good and available on the day. There are a few heritage varieties of seedlings that can now be bought commercially, but typically the seedlings available are the same varieties that are available at the supermarket.

I have always thought that growing your own vegetables should be about producing things that you don’t see every day at the supermarket. A word of warning though, growing your own vegies, and particularly growing them from seed can test your patience and also bring you to question your own logic. You will spend between 12 and 16 weeks growing, caring for and defending a plant that you will ultimately be able to buy at the grocer for between $3 and $8 a kilo. While the food you grow will be a lot fresher, tastier and if you choose, grown without chemicals, but often you are left wondering whether it is all worth it.

To tip the logic scale in my favour, I always grow the slightly whacky stuff. Green and orange tomatoes, yellow zucchini, giant cabbage, purple carrots and beans, the list goes on. Many heritage, or heirloom varieties are not nearly as productive as the new commercial varieties, and they can take a little longer to mature, but growing something that you can’t buy, makes it priceless and the effort worth it. Commercial varieties have been breed to be fast growing, as the longer a plant is in the ground, the more that can go wrong, and they have also been selected to have a big crop that matures at the same time to make harvesting more efficient. The down side of fast growing fruit and vegetables is that flavour is very often not taken into consideration nearly as much as appearance and ease of transporting.

In this blog I will show you how to make a wicking mat to raise your seedlings on. Wicking mats are used extensively in the seedling industry as much like wicking beds, the moisture is consistent and the maintenance is minimal.

  • A large rectangular vessel - I have used a kitty litter tray, but an old baking tray or a large plastic meat tray from the supermarket also works well.
  • Something to support the weight of your seedling pots - I have used a plastic plant tray that almost fits perfectly. Drainage cell or even some house bricks will also give the support the baby plants need.
  • Lastly, some geotextile material - Any material like an old towel will do, but it may rot and break apart after a while. Don’t use empty sand bags as these are often preserved with arsenic.

Now that you have all the pieces you must make sure that the inner support sits within the outer tray. I had to trim mine a little, but it doesn’t have to be snug. As long as it feels stable. Take the geofab and wrap it around the inner support tray and ensure that enough will be sitting at the bottom of the outer tray. Tuck in neatly and fill with water. Now the fabric will stay moist as long as there is water in the outer tray.

The job of watering seeds every day is now replaced with topping up the tray once if ever in the time it takes for your seedlings to be ready.

Now wait for your seeds to germinate and you will be ready to plant for spring.