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2nd box in progress!

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Post  ksbmom on 2/4/2012, 12:55 pm

My hubby is working on our second SFG this weekend! We did a 10 x 5 wicking bed last year and it worked great, so we're doing another one. It's basically a giant earth box with piping underneath the MM - it wicks up the water as needed to keeps things uniformly moist. We had great results this season and I'm excited to get the next one up and running. Here's a pic of the piping that goes in the bottom of the box:

2nd box in progress! Sfg_0012

We got the pipes at Lowe's - it already has slits cut in to allow the water to seep out. The pipe sticking up is where we add water when it gets too low. We cover the pipes with weed cloth, then add the MM, the grid and we're set to plant!
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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/4/2012, 1:51 pm

So did this set-up supply all the water that was needed all season or did you have to water via other sources? Just curious. Looks and sounds like a great set-up

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Post  boffer on 2/4/2012, 2:06 pm

Would love to see assembly pictures as you put everything together. How did you make the box waterproof?
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Post  Luci Dawson on 2/4/2012, 2:09 pm

What kind of pipe is that? And does it wick on its own, or do you have something else on the pipes to get the water to go UP into the MM?
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Post  ksbmom on 2/4/2012, 4:09 pm

Luci: It is 4-inch black perforated drainage pipe. We found it by accident at Lowe's and it was just what we wanted. It cost about $6 for a 10 foot piece, which my hubby cut into sections. It took three or four lengths for our 10 x 5 bed. It depends on how far apart you want to space them. The further apart, the more often you have to fill it with water. It had all the fittings sitting on the shelf next to it - in the outside garden area. We don't add anything - it has long slits cut in it already that allows the water to seep out and into the MM. We do cover it with thin weed cloth so the dirt doesn't clog up the slits. I was concerned at first that the MM might stay too wet, especially right at the pipes, but we haven't had a problem. We have about 10-12 inches of MM above the pipes.

Boffer: to waterproof, we lined the box with used swimming pool liner we found on Craig's list (for free Very Happy ). My hubby was looking at 8-mil liner but didn't think it would be puncture-proof enough. He's probably right - I forgot and started to stick a tomato cage down in the MM No . You can also get a PVC liner material at Home Depot or Lowe's in sheets (used for under bathtubs) but it's a little pricey at $6-$8 a foot. We like free! He also looked at used billboards (apparently they are made of a PVC material that he thought would be just right for a liner), but didn't find a good source near us (we were hoping to get it for free, but no luck! He visited the place where they store them after they are removed from the billboard, but they wouldn't give him one!). As we put the box together I'll document with pics and post them.

Nkedrooster: After we filled the pipes the first time with the hose (which took 15-20 minutes) I found I only needed to add water every few weeks. I was really surprised at how long I can go without having to add water. Thankfully our hose reaches down to where the box is in the yard, so it's not too much of a hassle. I have a piece of wood that's marked at 4" and 2" from the bottom that I put down the pipe every week to see what the water level is. The first time we filled it to 4" just as a guesstimate and it seemed to settle out at 2" after a while, which kept the MM nice and moist. I also check the MM to see how moist it is. When I poke my finger in the MM and the top inch or so feels dry, I generally add water to the pipe until it's to the 2 inch mark on the stick. I find if I keep it at that level, the MM stays moist, but not wet. Sure beats hand-watering 50 squares!

My husband is an engineer, so he's always coming up with different ways of doing things - I'm thankful he can and that he's into the SFG method as well!
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Post  newstart on 2/4/2012, 5:05 pm

Hhmmm looks like a good idea maybe in the future will try
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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/4/2012, 7:06 pm

Would love to see assembly pictures as you put everything together.

+1

Please keep us updated Very Happy

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Post  ksbmom on 2/4/2012, 8:07 pm

OK - here's the next step! I didn't think it would get done today, but it did (hubby's so good! Very Happy ) Kind of hard to see, but he's covered one of the pipes with a "sleeve" of meshy nylon type material to keep dirt out of the slits in the pipe. I don't know what exactly he used (he can't remember what it's called - he bought it last fall). It comes in "sleeves" that can be pulled all the way up the pipe, then it gets zip-tied around to keep it in place. Here's the whole thing with one of the pipes "sleeved" (and the SFG inspector doing her job tongue :

2nd box in progress! Sfg11

And a close-up of the material on the pipe:

2nd box in progress! Sfg_0013

Now the whole assembly's ready to put in the bottom of this SFG (built last fall and left to grow a nice crop of weeds):

2nd box in progress! Sfg_0014

We'll dig down far enough so that we can put the pipes in the box and still have enough room for 10 inches or so of MM on top of the pipes, make it level, line it with the swimming pool liner and fill it with MM. Pictures will be forthcoming when we get to the rest of the process. Hopefully next weekend!
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Post  ksbmom on 2/4/2012, 8:09 pm

Also meant to say that the reason the front of the SFG is so short is that the box is built on a pretty good slope down to the pond. It will all be level inside, though, once we're done.
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Post  ksbmom on 2/19/2012, 6:07 pm

Well, it took a couple of weekends longer than I thought, but here is the update on our wicking bed!

First, levelling the existing dirt below the level of the pipes:

2nd box in progress! Sfg_0017


Then lining it with the shower pan liner (comes in 4, 5, or 6 ft. widths, any length you want at HD). This is staple-gunned to the box:
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0110
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0111


In go the pipes:
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0210


Adding sand (so that the MM sitting right on top of the pipes won't rot - we didn't do this on the first bed, but it hasn't seemed to have been a problem either). We live in Florida so finding sand isn't a problem - this lot came from where my husband dug out for our brick patio:
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0610


Mixing time!
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0810


Fill 'er up:
2nd box in progress! Sfg_0910


Just add water:
2nd box in progress! Sfg_1010


We decided that we need to add more MM to this box so we'll mix up another half pickup bed of it tomorrow and add it. Hopefully hubby can get the grid on for planting next weekend! Very Happy
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Post  Furbalsmom on 2/19/2012, 7:05 pm

Great Job! Looks like a good plan with the shower pan liner.

Keep us posted.
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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/19/2012, 7:22 pm

WoW! Great progress 2nd box in progress! 3170584802 Thanks for all the great pics. With our arid climate here in Colorado, I bet this would be a great set up!

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Post  ksbmom on 2/19/2012, 7:45 pm

They use these types of boxes quite a bit in Australia due to the arid climate there. That's how my hubby figured out how to make ours - by checking out different designs from Australia. I like the fact that I don't have to drag the hose down to the bottom of the yard a few times a week....'cuz it probably wouldn't happen, and I'd end up with a dead SFG! tongue
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Post  boffer on 2/19/2012, 8:17 pm

Great job, thanks for the update! cheers

A suggestion for anyone thinking about trying this: Shower pan liner is not cheap, but it's one of the best materials for this application. DO NOT try to make this box with 6 mil plastic if you want a permanent, non-leaking box. Just sayin... Very Happy
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Post  camprn on 2/19/2012, 8:19 pm

@boffer wrote:Great job, thanks for the update! cheers

A suggestion for anyone thinking about trying this: Shower pan liner is not cheap, but it's one of the best materials for this application. DO NOT try to make this box with 6 mil plastic if you want a permanent, non-leaking box. Just sayin... Very Happy

2nd box in progress! 926169 Oh Boffer, now how would you know that?

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Post  RoOsTeR on 2/19/2012, 8:38 pm

A suggestion for anyone thinking about trying this: Shower pan liner is not cheap, but it's one of the best materials for this application. DO NOT try to make this box with 6 mil plastic if you want a permanent, non-leaking box. Just sayin...

Nope, not cheap, but it will last a very long time. Longer than the wood you build your boxes with for sure.
You can also look for chloraloy or cpe.

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Post  ksbmom on 2/19/2012, 9:11 pm

I don't feel too badly spending more for the shower pan liner this time since for the first box we got a swimming pool liner FREE! Free is good. We like free. Very Happy
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