Saturday, 22 February 2014

February 2014.

This is my new Ecobed.  Its the same size as the last one I built (Making Ecobeds), but I have made a few improvements.
A piece of heavy duty shadecloth lies over the soil and the edges are stapled to the top of the base sleepers.  This shadecloth helps prevent unwanted penetration of the bed by roots, and protects the plastic tank liner from any sharp objects missed when the soil was raked earlier.
75mm galvanised bullet head nails are used to secure the layers of sleepers together.  They are hammered into the timber until they are flush with the surface.  The corners are still joined using 2 galvanised 125mm bugle head wood screws.
The redesigned water distribution system has an overflow pipe joined to the filler pipe at the water tanks maximum permitted depth.  When the water tank is being filled (by hand or due to heavy or prolonged rain) the level of water in the filler tube rises with the level in the tank.  As it reaches the junction with the overflow pipe it begins to flow out of the bed through the wall. 

This post provides construction details of a similar overflow system built for my latest Ecobin upgrade.

The system is sealed against unwanted infiltration of soil or scoria which might cause a blockage in the overflow pipe.  Earlier overflow pipes were protected from blockage using a shadecloth filter.  Unfortunately they eventually blocked without warning, and I nearly lost my dwarf lemon tree when the overflow system in its small Ecobed failed.  The tree nearly drowned after prolonged rain, but after emergency measures it is now recovering well.  Regrettably, I had to sacrifice this years crop of lemons to save it.
The above picture shows the overflow pipe emerging from the outside of the bed wall.
Here is the new bed with the older version behind it.  The following improvements have been made:-
  • Nails tie the layers of sleepers together instead of using galvanised angles in the corners of the bed.
  • The overflow drains water from the filler pipe when the tank is too full.
  • The new (slightly larger) pest exclusion frame is mounted more simply and securely than before.
  • The bottom rail of the pest exclusion frame has 30mm galvanised bullet head nails hammered into the bottom of the rail at 150mm centres.  They are not hammered all the way in, 10mm is left protruding to provide hooking points for the pest exclusion netting.
  • There are also net hooks located in the 2 top end rails at 150mm centres (example below).
  • There is no dedicated worm farm in this bed.  Worm food is simple placed under the mulch in a corner of the bed.
Each top corner has 1 net hook in the adjacent rail as shown above so that the end net can be wrapped around the side netting to close off any gaps.
This view shows how the nets overlap at the corners to avoid gaps.  This system is easy to use and is very effective at protecting the plants from pests and the sun in hot weather.

The nails are positioned to minimise the risk of snagging clothes, but care should be taken with the exposed nail heads in the top rail.