One of the most difficult things about growing your own food in hot conditions like Townsville is being able to keep your soil moist whilst in the hot/dry months. In this instructable, I will provide an introduction to 'wicking' with the a basic 'wicking cup' that is great for germinating seeds and getting kids involved.
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Step 1: Grab Some of Your Best Party Cups
You will need 2 plastic cups for each 'wicking cup' you want to make. The seedlings don't care what colour it is however I prefer white as its reflective nature can reduce some heat entering into your soil (white cups can be 10 degrees cooler than red cups!).
Now for the risky bit - poke a small hole in the bottom of one of the cups. Fill the cup with the hole in the bottom with some potting mix.
Step 2: Prep Your Cup and Plant Your Seeds
After you have planted your seed/s in the soil, pop the cup into your second cup after adding a small amount of water in the bottom of the bottom cup.
It's that simple. You will notice that some of the water pushes out from the weight of the top cup, that's fine and just check in every day or two to make sure you have some water in the bottom reservoir.
The water will 'wick' up into the top cup and sustain the perfect moisture content for your seedling.
Above are some horrible Carolina Reaper chilli seedlings that I have absolutely no use for, them emerged after 1 week in the 'wicking cup'.
Step 3: Choose the Right Spot for Your Cup
As with any planting anything, location is critical. In Townsville, I like to place the wicking cups against a fence so that the fence can provide cooling shade and reduce some of the wind that can cause your water to dry up much quicker. Of course, you need some sunlight and its best to read up on the seeds you want to grow.
Step 4: Get Creative - Wicking Cups Are Everywhere!
Now that you have the fundamentals down pat, look around the home and see what else you can turn into wicking cups. Above is a milkbottle and soft drink bottle that I cut in half, popped a hole in the lid and turned into a slightly bigger wicking cup. Strawberries love this setup, see what you can turn into a wicking cup.
Feeling creative? Check out the 'level 2' and 'level 3' wicking systems in my other instructables