Questions and Answers
The fruit trees are already planted and we definitely could not uproot them again they would simply die.
I suggest you have a look at safeguarding_future_food_supply.pdf this shows how I used open style wicking beds to irrigate an established orchard
I actually want the organic material to decompose, this is continuously adding nutrients to the soil (and is also sequestering carbon) so you do need to top up with more organic material.
There are two ways. Dig out a section of the bed ( I go down to the top of the pipe so I don’t not puncture the plastic) then refill with organic material. I then spread the excavated soil over the bed until it is flat. I just use a new spot for the hole each time.
That is the hard work way.
The second way is to make a compost heap on top of the bed and water the compost. This flushes a nutritious compost tea into the base of the bed. This is the lazy way.
In fact I use a combination of both methods. When I weed my bed I just throw them onto the compost zone and let them decompose. After a while I am accumulating a pile of composted material which I then bury.
Now there is one important point. Composting takes a lot of nitrogen so it is a good idea to add some nitrogen fertilizer to the compost. I use blood and bone and chicken manure.
Weeds and pest are a real problem up here in
Now there is a real issue here. Most people are familiar with the conventional wicking system which has a separate water container with the water wicking up into the growing area.
I have googled wicking bed patents and there are hundreds of different versions of this principle. But they all have the disadvantage that they need a separate container which is fine for a pot or tub but is totally impractical for a large area. In my system there is no barrier between the water and soil zone, the water is simply stored in the soil or organic material.
Normally the water available to the plants is the difference between the field capacity (the maximum water that the soil can hold by capillary action) and the wilt point. Typically this is only 10% of the soil contains available water.
In my system I increase the water holding capacity from the saturation point to the wilt point which means that the available water is increased several times, particularly if a coarse organic matrix is used. While the volume of water contained per unit of volume is obviously less that in a water container with liquid water the total volume of water stored can much larger than any practical container. This makes it practical for large area farming.
I am currently experimenting with a system where rows of wicking beds are all linked together by a system with many beds running along a contour but all linked together by lateral running down any slope. This can be used for large areas.
I do have patents on this system but I actually encourage home growers to use the system for free as this helps promote the system.
Another of my current projects is to get the system accredited for carbon capture. At some point when carbon trading becomes a reality this will allow growers to earn money from carbon capture.
I know that commercial growers using hot houses
will pollinate either by hand or by having a bee hive in the house.
Living up in
The tree mulch from the loppers is the best for the reservoir however there is a few things to watch for. Some trees, particularly pine trees put out toxins or inhibitors to stop other plants growing in their area and competing. Trees may look pretty but they invented chemical warfare.
It is therefore best to allow a bit of time for the loppings to weather and let the microbes dispose of the toxins. As long as you keep them moist then a month or so should do. If after you have made the bed you think the plant growth is not what is should be then you can always give the bed a good flush.
Next as organic waste decomposes they take up
nutrients, particularly nitrogen.
I therefore suggest that you mix the sheep manure in with the
soil in the root zone.
I have made my bed to the dimensions you suggest but in the winter I notice that the surface is still wet. Am I putting on too much water.
Yes probably, the surface should look dry for most of the time. If it is wet it can encourage moulds on your plants. In winter there is no need to fill the reservoir up to the drain hole, you can experiment with filling to a lower level until the soil surface is dry.
Also do not water too often, make sure the water in the lower zone is all used up, at least from time to time. There is still plenty of water in the soil.