Wicking is THE most efficient way of watering plants, because the plant actually sucks up exactly what it needs. That means using less water, but also the convenience of being able to fill a reservoir and walk away for weeks at a time.
Wicks can be made from many sorts of rope. This summer, community gardens across Kāpiti will be experimenting with different wicking systems. See them in action at Paekākāriki School Garden, Matai Community Garden in Raumati, Ōtaki College, and at Kāpiti Community Centre in Paraparaumu.
This simple bottle wick, ideal for pot plants, is adapted with permission from David Bainbridge’s Gardening With Less Water. He also describes how wicks can be used in outdoor garden situations, with larger containers such as 10-litre pails.
You will need:
The tubing needs to be slightly larger than the rope. For instance I used 10mm clear vinyl tubing and 8mm cheap polypropelene rope.
1. Wash the rope to remove any oils. If doing this in the washing machine, use a laundry bag to stop it getting tangled (or use a bucket of hot soapy water).
2. Cut a piece of tubing to reach 2cm into the soil, then into the reservoir bottle.
3. The rope needs to be long enough to reach the bottom of the reservoir, then around the roots of the plant being watered.
4. Melt the ends of the rope if needed to keep it from fraying, then thread it through the tubing. Use a piece of coat hanger wire if needed.
5. Near the top of the bottle, cut small cross-hatches with a sharp knife and push the tubing through. Make sure the wick reaches the bottom of the bottle.
6. If using the wick to water a pot, gently push the other end of the wick down around the roots, using your finger or a long screwdriver. For a new pot, circle the wick around the pot about half way down at time of planting.
7. Fill the bottle and walk away. Refill as needed (should last for weeks)