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Innovation - our heritance our future


small wicking bedI guess many people visiting this web site are just looking to find out how to make a wicking bed, this can be very easy and cheap - an old veggie box from the supermarket - a hole in the side for drainage - put a pipe in and fill with soil and you are there, simple as simple.  You can find out more by clicking wicking bed and manual.

But there is more to this site than that.  It is about innovation.  Elephants and dolphins are intelligent but it is people that have the ability to create new ideas and pass these on to others - this is what makes people different. It’s pretty impressive that we can sit on a remote mountain or beach and with a smart phone access the amazing source of information that is the internet.

This site is more than a manual on wicking beds - it is a study of my life’s immersion in innovation. But innovation is not all fun and gizmos; innovation means challenging the conventional wisdom.  I first starting experimenting with wicking beds almost twenty years ago when conventional wisdom was that drainage was essential and that the wicking bed must fail because the soil would turn putrid.  Conventional wisdom was wrong, it is true that plants roots do need air but the rising and falling of water levels in a properly managed wicking bed is like a breathing action in the soil, sucking fresh air in and expelling stale air.

We hear about the successful innovations but failure is the norm, I have had my share of both.  My development of computer simulations for designing moulds was both technically and financially successful, fortunately for me as it allowed me to continuer further innovations into sustainable living which has been riddled with failures.

I spent a small fortune on trying to develop a cheap system of subsurface irrigation to save water - great in theory less so in practise.  I also developed a system of flexible pipes to pump air into the soil to help root growth. Later I developed systems for improved irrigation scheduling and flood irrigation, technically successful but probably too complex to achieve widespread adoption.  But they did provide invaluable learning experiences which led to the success of the wicking beds.

But technical success does not mean acceptance or financial success.  For over forty years I have experimented with how to improve soil quality by increasing organic matter and soil biology. The techniques I (and many others) have developed systems which could give us much healthier foods - reducing diabetes, heart attacks and obesity and store enough carbon in the soil to compensate for fifty years of emissions. Yet it seems impossible to shift the conventional wisdom away from pills and chemical fertilisers.

In some ways wicking beds have been a great success partly as they can be made for virtually nothing from what is virtually scrap. I am still astounded by elderly ladies going to the tips to collect old bath tubs and making successful wicking beds.

Despite their wide spread adoption I feel that that the real benefit of wicking beds is in danger of being missed

They are becoming to be seen as just another self-watering pot which typically use separate water chambers or inert stones. The real benefits of wicking bed are they create that controlled moisture levels in which soil biology can thrive.   BioPacks provide the trace minerals which are broken down by fungi and released to the plants which in turn produce the complex phytochemicals which are essential for our health. The system of coaches can provide technical expertise, completed wicking boxes and BioPacks.

Eating fresh nutrient rich vegetables and herbs is more effective than taking pills as dietary supplements and is also a lot cheaper. We have reached the point where more than half the world population live in cities.  Wicking bed are well suited to multi story apartment blocks providing that critical supplements to the food but also provide a source of interest in the natural world that many city dwellers miss.