A wicking bed is an excellent technique for growing things in environments where water is scarce, and has two main parts. The bottom half is a contained reservoir filled with gravel and water and the top half is filled with soil, mulch and plants. By periodic flooding of the deeper half of the bed, mature plant roots get a big drink. And because it's contained, that water gets a chance to 'wick' upwards into the soil, hydrating the soil of the bed and the smaller roots within. Pretty simple, really, but amazingly effective, very water efficient and ripe for endless variation.
Below is a photo essay outlining the process of creating a wicking bed using everyday tools and materials, which took 5 people about 4 leisurely hours to make. It features the efforts of Milkwood Permaculture's awesome Permaculture Design Certificate students in Alice Springs earlier this year, led by Nick Ritar who also designed this particular wicking bed system..