Wicking wonders in Wonthaggi


Stormy weather just prior to the Future Homes Water-Wise Event hosted by Bass Coast Shire Council and Bass Coast Landcare in January didn’t deter participants from turning up for a fantastic day.

A beautiful garden, two exceptionally interesting speakers, a great lunch and a hands-on project were the perfect recipe.

Carolyn Charles kindly hosted the event in her beautiful, water-wise garden in Wonthaggi.

The first guest speaker was Dr John Cumming, who gave attendees some very interesting and important information about water quality and what people should and shouldn’t be doing with grey water, tank water and town water.

He put the science, the cost, the risks and the advantages of different sources of water into perspective. It was one of those talks that made you realise that most water isn’t just simple H2O; it can become quite complex and sometimes contains more than we ever ‘bargained for’. The topic encouraged many questions and observations, and John calmly presented the facts; many of which were clearly ‘news’ to many in his audience.

Carolyn then led participants around her fabulous garden for a ‘walk and talk’. She designed the home and garden from scratch to suit her needs now and into the future, and that included water-wise garden planting and watering. The green mulch was particularly impressive, as was the grey water use. Carolyn explained what had and hadn’t worked over the years and there was no doubt that the results of her planning have produced a beautiful, healthy space that is easy and inexpensive to maintain.

After a delicious lunch, Rick Coleman, an engaging local permaculture expert took the stand. He outlined some principles of garden design and plant choice, and then it was time to make the wicking planter. Why a wicking planter and what is it you may ask?

The dilemma for gardeners is often how they can keep things alive while they enjoy time away from home. Enthusiasm for growing food in the home and community gardens can be short-lived if you come home from holidays to wilted and dying plants. The answer is the self-watering, or wicking, planter and Rick explained how to build one; then encouraged everyone to have a go themselves.

The word ‘participants’ took on a whole new meaning as the event had many hands working to build the planter. Carolyn had all the materials ready (mostly recycled) and everyone knew how it should be constructed following Rick’s instructions. The results of that ‘light work’ are in Carolyn’s garden now and will be for many years of happy vegetable growing to come.

The very successful Future Homes Program will be holding their next function, Community Gardens for Everyone, on Sunday, 6 March. This free event will be held on Phillip Island and will include a workshop on grafting. If you would like to participate, please contact Bass Coast Landcare Network’s Rosie Scott-Thompson at education@basscoastlandcare.org.au or 0409 366 914.