Why Wicking Strip?
The need for a wicking material was determined when ZipGrow Towers were still in their infancy.
Because the Matrix Media inside the towers has such high percolation and air movement, tender plant roots, especially on seedlings, were at risk of desiccation.
("Many plantings failed initially, before the best transplanting and irrigation procedure was determined. Many of the initial failures were due to seedling desiccation shortly after transplant." Storey, 2012)
One thing that eliminates this risk is the use of a wicking strip until the tower is mature enough to provide it's own organic wicking.
Video: How to Use Wicking Strip in ZipGrow towers
The wicking strip is a piece of polyester felt that goes between the two sides of a media insert of a ZipGrow tower. The wicking strip is especially helpful with low volume drippers, and is absolutely necessary for the first few plantings in a hydroponics setting.
Wicking strip captures and delivers water to seedlings
The strip collects moisture at the back of the tower, where the drip irrigation is trickling water. The water is collected by the wicking strip set against the back and wicked outward to the seedling roots, keeping them moist.
The strip is sandwiched between media inserts
First, identify the front of the media and the back. Place the media an inch from the front of the media, with the far end of the strip at the crotch of the media insert. Fold the media in half over the wicking strip. The front of your insert should be clear of the strip, while the back should have an inch protruding from it. This extra will fold over the back of the media and collect more water from the back of the tower.
When planting seedlings, only the tip of the seedling plug should touch the wicking strip. This keeps the roots from drowning.
Don't worry! You won't have to use wicking strip forever.
Think of the wicking strip as training wheels for your tower until it's has accumulated enough organic wicking material of it's own. This is why we advise ZipGrow users not to wash the media out after every use. As the number of crops that have grown in the media increases, the root matter and solids accumulation in the tower increase as well.
The wicking strip is less important in an aquaponic system with more solids accumulation and after the first few crops of a hydroponic system, when there is other organic material to help wick moisture and distribute it evenly throughout the media.
Wicking strip is included with every ZipGrow tower purchase.
Wicking strip can be a great tool in growing healthy seedlings.
If you have any questions about how to use wicking strip, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.