Making mini-wicking garden beds

This afternoon in the Children's Festival at Woodford Folk Festival, Maia and I led a Permaculture gardening workshop.  I am running these workshops as Ethos Kids - part of the Nature Kids program of the Ethos Foundation.

Today we up-cycled milk bottles to make mini-wicking beds to plant an array of edible and medicinal herbs and perennial vegetables. 

In the morning I freshly harvested Brazilian Spinach, Chocolate Mint, Japanese Mint, Sacred Basil, Aloe Vera, Pineapple Sage, Weeping Rosemary, Lavender, Choko, Garlic Chives, Tarragon, Pelargonium from my garden for the children to choose from.

We showed the children how to propagate these plants and discussed how to grow and use them. They mulched and watered them with worm tea too. The children (and some parents) each took away at least one decorated mini-wicking pot with multiple cuttings.

This is the method we used - very simple:
  1. cut the plastic milk bottle in half - 1L, 2L or 3L work fine.
  2. take the bottom half and poke a hole about 2-3cms from the base (overflow hole)
  3. fill this bottom section up to the hole with sand (the water reservoir)
  4. place the top section inside the base and fill with soil
  5. plant in the cuttings or seeds
  6. mulch
  7. water until the excess starts to come out of the hole (adding worm castings here helps to encourage strong initial growth)
The benefit of this mini-wicking system is that as the soil dries out and the plants get thirsty, the soil wicks water from the reservoir in the sand below. You only need to water these pots every few days, or when you notice the reservoir is dry. It is a great way to get cuttings going because there is less chance of the soil drying out. I have found it a very useful strategy in my nursery at home, because I often find I run out of time each day to get up and water, but in these pots they'll be fine for days!

Maia is such a fabulous workshop assistant. She ably helps other children creating these gardens and selecting plants. I am so proud of her, and so thankful for her help.

My lovely assistant - creating demonstrations to show the other children.
After our workshop we headed into the main festival site to climb some trees and listen to some great music, explore the amazing newly-installed sculptures, fossick in the streams and meet many old friends. We saw yoga on the green, street theatre, and much more. 

Listening to the music for a nearby venue from the comfort of a tree limb.
Fully pedestrianised streets are full of great stalls, food places and venues for music, dance, art and conversation.
This event is such a safe and friendly place for children, and so inspiring for them - musically, creatively and also intellectually. There are wonderful talks happening throughout the festival which we go listen to together. They always launch great dialogues in our household afterwards.

Look at that mummy! (An amazing bamboo structure up on the hill)
'Near Kin Kin' is a sculpture now permanently installed by Cave Urban at the Woodford Festival site. It was originally commissioned by City of Sydney and exhibited outside Customs House. 
Bamboo sculpture entrance.
From the centre of the structure looking up - at least 15 metres high.
The structure draws you to stand in the centre marvelling at it's amazing form.
Monty also loved the kids bamboo cubby. We'll be working with the kids to build mini-bamboo cubbies on Tuesday.
At major pathway intersection, the rock sculpture will be transformed over and over during the festival. People stop and add their own little bit. It was day one today so it still largely resembled a pile of rocks, but with sculptural elements emerging.

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