Sunday, April 3, 2016

Growing Giant Sequoias From Seed - Trial 2

So, we tried to grow giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from seed indoors this past winter, with pretty poor results.  Although we had about a 10% germination rate, 80% of the trees that germinated ultimately died (without clear cause).  This is a very difficult tree to grow, but persistence is key.

We are again trying to grow sequoias from seed, but this time we are trying to correct our mistakes.  We used regular tap water last time to cold stratify the seeds - but this may have lead to "damping off" or fungal disease.  This time we committed to distilled water.  We tried to grow the sequoias inside, during the winter, under artificial light.  This time we will plant and keep the trees outside even during winter (but in a cold frame if necessary).

So, to start off, we acquired 2000 more sequoia seeds from, our preferred site.  We expect again about a 10% germination rate, so perhaps around 200 trees.  We plan to distribute these trees across the country for growth with the Waterboxx in a few years.

First, assemble all needed materials.  To stratify (prepare seeds for germination), you will need to following materials:

  • A clean paper plate
  • Two clean paper towel squares
  • A clean sealable kitchen bag
  • Sequoia seeds (at least 10 seeds for every desired tree)
  • Distilled water (which won't have any fungal spores which can kill young saplings)

What is needed to cold stratify the seeds - paper plate, two paper towels, sealing kitchen bag, seeds, and distilled water

First, wet one of the paper towels with the distilled water.  Lie this paper towel flat on the paper plate.  Then, carefully spread the (small) sequoia seeds on the wet paper towel, as evenly as possible.

Spread the sequoia seeds on the paper towel wetted with the distilled water - do this with clean hands only

Next, take the second paper towel and wet it with the distilled water.  Lay this carefully over the paper plate now covered with sequoia seeds.  If some seeds get pushed off the plate, I would pick them up and put on the plate - remember that each seed may grow into a tree that will store a lifetime of carbon emissions and live for millenia.

Our two thousand covered sequoia seeds (you probably don't need so many seeds unless you have many acres you wish to plant - expect 1 tree per 10 seeds)
Next, we need to make the large paper towel fit in the plastic bag.  We folded the corners of the paper towels in to fit it on the paper plate.  We then slid the paper plate into the bag, labeled it with the date we plan to open it (one month later).
We plan to plant the seeds into their germination site - cone-tainers - in about one month.  After about one to two years - when the trees reach about 12-16 inches in height, the sequoias will be ready to plant.  We will plant the sequoias with the Groasis Waterboxx during our annual spring sequoia donation and planting, or distribute the trees to our customers.

We will update this post with our progress and next steps in early May.

You can visit our main website (or see our previous sequoia results) We would love to hear your comments below.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

How Does Nature Harvest Dew?

Nature understands something that humans have only recently begun to grasp - that when there is no rain, there is still water available in the air - water in the form of dew or condensation.  There are several species of animal on three different continents that have learned to harvest this dew and live almost exclusively off of it.

Perhaps the most impressive dew drinker is Moloch horridus, or the Australian Thorny Devil.  This animal is lives in an environment (the Australian Outback) with very little rain.   However, in the desert, because of large swings in temperature between day and night, there is often some dew on the ground in the morning.  Most of this dew is immediately evaporated after sunrise.  However, the Thorny Devil is able to use the "horns" or spikes on its body to collect this dew instead of allowing it to gather on the ground.  The Thorny Devil then channels this moisture to its mouth with special channels evolved just for this purpose.

The Australian Thorny Devil - Photo by Bäras
This same method has evolved on the other side of the world by an unrelated lizard, the state reptile of Texas, the Texas Horned Lizard,  or Phyrnsoma cornutum. The Texas Horned Lizard doesn't rely on dew so much as it does on rain drops after they hit the ground and splinter into much smaller particles.  These particles are caught by the horns on this animal and channeled to its mouth as well, using one way capillary channels.

The African Pygmy Mouse, Mus minutoides also exploits the same effect by piling small stones outside its den at night.  These stones collect condensation (perhaps partly from the mouse's breath) which the mice then drink in the morning.

Our favorite dew harvester, however, is the Fogstand Beetle of the Namib Desert, Stenocara Gracilipes.  This beetle inhabits a desert with less than one inch of rain per year!  How does it survive in such an arid environment?   They will stand on little ridges of sand in the desert when the morning dew rolls in and angle their bodies to 45%.   These beetles have microscopic water loving (hydrophilic) spikes that collect dew, and water moving (hydrophobic) troughs that direct the collected water to their mouths.  These beetles can drink twelve percent of their body weight in water each day using this method!

The Namib Desert Dew Drinking Beetle - From NSF, public domain
Is there any way that humans could harvest this dew, not to drink, but to grow food and trees?  Yes, there is.  It is called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon®, or Waterboxx for short.

The Waterboxx has taken the best insights nature has to offer, including the water loving spikes and water moving troughs and angled top, to collect dew in dry areas.  This dew is then funnels into a reservoir where it is stored by later use by the plant growing inside the Waterboxx.  The dew is slowly released by wicks into the soil. Rare rainfall can completely replenish the 15 L (almost 4 gallon) reservoir of the Waterboxx.  In this way, we can start trees and grow garden plants without watering.

The Waterboxx with tomatoes - you see condensation on the rim of the Waterboxx (where there are no ridges) but none on the ridges as there are microscopic bumps or pyramids there that collect and then funnel water down to a reservoir.  
The Waterboxx may even be able to recycle some of the water transpired (or, simplistically, 'sweated') out by the plant at night.  We haven't yet proven this, but plants release a great deal of water through special pores mostly on the underside of lids (called stomata) at night, and on still nights, it is likely at least some of this water settles on the lid of the Waterboxx and is collected.  

A schematic cut away view of the Waterboxx - dew is collected on the tan lid, sent down the siphons (shown here in red), stored in the green reservoir, and slowly distributed to the roots of the growing plant via a wick.  Photo from

The Waterboxx has been used all across the world but its use is just catching on here in the United States.  People are finding that they can grow some vegetables with the Waterboxx without ever adding water, and start trees without any water after planting.  Even better. because the trees develop deeper roots with the Waterboxx, the tree is then far more likely to survive subsequent droughts, even when the Waterboxx is removed and reused.

If you would like like to know more about the Waterboxx or see results of using it, visit our main website,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Experimenting With Mycorrhizae (Helpful Root Fungus)

Mycorrhizae (from ancient Greek "mycos" meaning fungus and "riza" meaning roots") are beneficial fungi for growing plant roots. Roots are only able to absorb water and nutrients from the soil that they are in contact with (called the rhizosphere in scientific parlance - a great word in our opinion that we will subsequently overuse).  You (the gardener) generally want the largest rhizosphere possible for your plants, especially in dry climates or places with poor soil.  However,.the goal of the plant is to grow above ground and produce seeds for propagation of the species.  This leads to an challenge and an opportunity - how do you expand the "rhizosphere" while allowing the plant to focus on photosynthesis and fruiting?

Luckily, nature has a solution for us - mycorrhizae.  Mycorrhizal fungi, just like all fungi, cannot grow without getting an food source (they are heterotrophic, like animals).  For this they need the roots of plants to provide them with sugars.  In exchange, the mycorrhizae greatly expand the surface area of the of the "roots" by attaching and allowing the roots to collect water and nutrients from more numerous fungal filaments.  This is seen below - with the corn root appearing much larger than the mycorrhizal fungal root (meaning the corn gets a larger rhizosphere).

A microscopic view of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus growing on a corn root. The round bodies are spores, and the threadlike filaments are hyphae. The substance coating them is glomalin, revealed by a green dye tagged to an antibody against glomalin.
Photo by Sara Wright - courtesy of USDA, public domain
Just as roots are not generally considered when gardening, root fungus is thought about even less.  We first heard of mycorrhizae when we discovered the Waterboxx, a brilliant invention to harvest dew and rain water to grow trees and other plants in the desert.  We were not sure of how effective these fungi would be in helping roots until we saw the experiments of our friend Bill McNeese, an expert gardener in the near desert in Southern California.  After his results, we decided we needed to try out mycorrhizae in a controlled experiment, to see how much they improved growth.

Although we didn't have the resources for a large experiment, we decided to plant two peat pots of our garden vegetable seeds indoors, one with mycorrhizal fungi, one without.  We would then try to keep all other variables constant, including light (from overhead grow lights), as well as water and space for the plants.  You can see our results below

Mycorrhiza planting on left, Non-mycorrhiza on right

Kellog's Breakfast heirloom tomato grown with mycorrhizae (left) and without (right) with same amount of light, water, and soil.  Clearly the peat pot with the mycorrhizae has a much higher germination rate and faster growth.  Photo taken on 3/16/16
Carnival peppers, with mycorrhiza added on left and none on right - again clear germination and growth advantage of the mycorrhiza added group

Bell peppers, with mycorrhiza added on left and none added on right - again, the mycorrhizal group had better germination and growth, although not quite as pronounced as the Kellog's Breakfast tomatoes and the Carnival peppers.

Amadeo eggplant, with mycorrhiza on left and none on right.  We are not sure why germination rate is higher with the non-mycorrhizal group for this plant.

In all but one of the experiments, the seeds with mycorrhizal fungus germinated better and grew faster than those without.  We are not sure why the eggplant did not grow better with mycorrhizae - we will be testing if this is true across all species of eggplant with later experiments with Japanese and white eggplants (check back often).

Updates: April 3, 2016

Amadeo Eggplant - left with mycorrhizae, right without - this is our only plant that hasn't done better with mycorrhizae
Tomatillo with mycorrhizae on the left and without on the right - the tomatilloes with mycorrizae have a significantly higher average height 

Bell pepper - with mycorrhizae on the left and without on the right - the pepper with the helpful fungus is clearly much larger overall

Carnival pepper, grown with mycorrhizal fungus on the left and without on the right - the pepper with mycorrhizae is about 20% larger overall
We used "Mykos" brand Rhizophagus intraradices available on Amazon here.  We used only a very small amount of mycorrhiza (we used a forceps/tweezers to grab about 1/2 inch of mycorhizzal granules between the two parts of the tweezers).  We believed that the mycorrhizae would of course proliferate on their own, and there was no sense putting down more mycorrhiza than what could immediately surround the new plant roots.  As the mycorrhizae are somewhat expensive, this also allows us to conserve resources.  

We plan to plant all of these plants in our garden using the Groasis Waterboxx.  After planting and Waterboxx set up, we will not water them again for the entire growing season.  Between the Waterboxx collecting dew and rainwater, and funneling it to the plant roots, and the mycorrhizae increasing the rhizosphere, we expect these plants to do excellent without any manual watering, and produce large numbers of fruits and vegetables.  

We will continue to update this post with other vegetable plant mycorrhizae experiment results.  If you would like to know more about mycorrhizae (from an academic source), see here.  If you would like to know more about the Waterboxx and how you can garden without ongoing watering, see here

Feel free to contact us with any questions by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Growing Giant Sequoia Trees From Seed

Giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are the largest living things on Earth.   They can live for thousands of years, reach almost three hundred feet in height, resist droughts and forest fires. The single largest sequoia tree now living, General Sherman, has sequestered over a lifetime of carbon emissions by the average American.   What is more, giant sequoias can grow throughout much of the world in temperate regions, including most of the continental United States, so long as they have sufficient water (around 30 inches or 762 mm each year).  Sequoias are common in Britain, but are also in mainland Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, and almost every state in the U.S.

Establishing sequoias is very difficult, and with trial and error you can expect years of frustration, even if you buy saplings rather than seeds. Even with saplings we didn't have any success establishing sequoias outside in the Midwest until we started using the Waterboxx PlantCocoon to grow sequoias for the first few years.  Since starting to use the Waterboxx PlantCocoon, we have had 100% success, detailed here and here.

As sequoias proved such fun to plant and are so beneficial to the environment, we wanted to know if we could grow sequoia trees from seed.  We had tried this before, but had very poor germination rates (around ~1%), and many of our trees that did germinate soon died.  We were determined to try again, but to follow the best advice available for growing these seeds.

Sequoia seeds are tiny - here is an average sized one on a fingertip before planting.  It is hardly believable that these become the largest living things on Earth.
We bought 500 giant sequoia seeds from, on here (or more cheaply from their website here).  Sequoia seeds need a very specific process mimicking their natural environment to germinate (including a wet "fall" and cold "winter"), so we tried to replicate that in as short a period as possible.  To start, we laid our seeds on a paper towel and moistened them with water (distilled water for best results as it doesn't contain mold).

Seeds on July 16, 2015, right after getting them in the mail.  Our biggest problem was having the patience to not plant before "hardening" for a month in the fridge.  
We covered these seeds with another moist paper towel, and them put them on a portion of a paper plate.  We then put these in a clean, sealed plastic bag.  This simulated our wet "fall", in order to reawaken the seeds.  For our winter, we placed this plastic bag in the vegetable crisper in the fridge for 30 days.

After 30 days, we removed our seeds.  We started with 500 seeds, but given our poor germination rate before, we didn't expect most to produce anything.  We took about half of these seeds to be planted.  We set up a Cone-tainer rack filled with 98 soil holding cone-tainers (both available here).  We filled these full of potting soil.  For about half of the cone-tainers, we also added some vermiculite, which is excellent at holding moisture.  We then took the very small seeds, and added them to the top of the soil mixture.  For half of the cone-tainers, we used only one seed, and for the other half we used three to four.  We pushed the seeds down slightly into the soil, but we did not bury the seeds.

Our 98 Cone-tainers in a tray, with our seeds just planted, on August 18, 2015.  The vermiculite containing Cone-tainers are white on top.
We waited about two weeks, but didn't see any of the promised germination.  We thought that perhaps nights were getting too cool (sometimes into the upper 50s Fahrenheit), so we put a cold frame we had previously built over the sequoias seeds.

The cone-tainers in our 2x4 foot cold frame.
Within two days, we started to see germination of our tiny trees.  We did our best to keep the tiny seedling moist without over watering.

Tiny sequoia trees, just growing from seed on August 31, 2015
We had about 25% germination in our first round. We wanted to have a giant Sequoia tree growing from each Cone-Tainer, so we planted more seeds in each Cone-Tainer that didn't have one germinate.

We did have a few Cone-Tainers with more than two sequoias germinate. We wanted didn't want competition to hurt both sequoias, so we removed the smaller sequoia seedling so the larger could continue to grow unabated.  When we removed the smaller sequoia, what we found was astounding (to us, at least).  Giant sequoias send down a true tap root!   This is incredible, as many trees just send out shallow, lateral, fibrous roots.  This true tap root means sequoias can tap deep sources or water (like water held in capillary channels) as well as underground aquifers.  This means that sequoias will be able to withstand droughts very well.  This only makes sense as many sequoias have lived for three millennia, through many droughts, in California.

A tiny sequoia sapling, a little over a month (9/26/15) after planting, with a taproot over three times the length of the trunk.  These tap roots enable sequoias to survive very long periods without rain.

We are growing these sequoias from seed in Central Indiana, which has harsh winters, so we decided to move our saplings inside to a window sill over the Fall and Winter and provide a little artificial light to speed up growth.  There is a chance this may disrupt the seasonal rhythm of the plant, but we judged this risk as lower than the risk from the freezing.

The sequoias inside (all moved close to get the most light) on October 3, 2015.  We have had about a 33% germination rate so far - not bad for this very difficult to start tree.
We are very impressed that the eventual structure (and beautiful red trunk) has already begun to become evident.
A sequoia about 5 weeks old - we hope this sequoia is 10 inches tall by spring to it can be planted outside with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.
At this point (October 6, 2015), we still have about 70% of our Cone-tainers without any sequoia seedlings.  This means our germination and survival rate has been somewhere around 15% (because we planted about two seeds per Cone-tainer, on average).  We want each Cone-tainer to have one sequoia, so we planted the most of the remaining seeds into the empty Cone-tainers.  We did save a few seeds just in case none germinated in some Cone-tainers.  

A sequoia at about 10 weeks - again perhaps doubled in size over the past 5 weeks.

By late November, we have planted all 500 seeds and have 50 living sequoia seedlings, for a germination rate of 10%.  As this is our second planting, and we had a germination and early survival rate of 0% previously, we are well pleased.  We are supplementing sunlight with full spectrum CFL light (purchased before full spectrum LEDs were available), and see the smaller sequoias grow ~5% per day - a very healthy growth rate indeed.

Our sequoia seedlings 4 months and 11 days after planting.  We still have 48 living sequoias, with two more lost to damping off.  Our tallest tree is about 3.5 inches, which should put us in range of the desired 10 inches by April with our continued artificial light.
Right now (late March 2016) we have had greatly decreased survival in the late spring.  We asked our friend Joe Welker of why this was, and he believed it was because we grew indoors.  We are down to only 10 sequoias, hardly satisfying,

Our sequoias on March 29, 2016 - only 10 left.  We will try continue growing these but try again with a new crop of seeds in a few weeks - outdoors.  
We plan to start a new crop in outdoors in early June.  The things we will change with this next crop:
1. We will plant using larger size cone-tainers
2. We will plant outdoors
3. We will use only distilled water initially to prevent fungal diseases causing "damping off"
4.  We will keep the sequoias outside all winter (but in a cold frame to prevent desiccation from the wind).

You can see our next trial (this time with 2000 sequoia seeds) here.

We hope to see these sequoias grow to the point they can be transplanted outdoors with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  They will need to be about 10-15 inches tall at that time.  We are growing these sequoias for donation to a few growing partners in the South and Midwest - we will post those plantings online when pictures are available.

Our greater hope is to see giant sequoias planted on public and private property throughout the United States and rest of the world.  This tree grows so large, so fast, and lives so long, that it may be one of the few affordable ways to decrease carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, counteracting the problems caused by excessive carbon dioxide.

We will continue to update this post with our sequoia from seed progress.  We would love to hear your comments below.

If you would like to plant sequoias you already have outside, with the Waterboxx, you can buy a Waterboxx PlantCocoon here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Plant Paw-Paw - Indiana Banana, America's First Fruit Tree

History can be capricious.  The phrase "American as apple pie" has entered the lexicon of most  Americans.  This is unfair.  The apple tree is derived from wild ancestors in Central Asia and Europe and is not truly an American fruit.  This is of course the American way - adopting and adapting ideas and foods from around the world.  However, most people in this country, who have tried everything from apple butter to apple pie, have never tried true American native fruit - the Paw Paw.

The Paw Paw tree, also known as 'Indiana Banana', Asiminia triloba, is the largest fruit native to the U.S.  It is rich in vitamin and energy content, good tasting, and grows in all or part of 26 states.  Paw paw is a valuable fruit in that it has all 20 essential amino acids or building blocks of protein.  Paw paw also has more vitamin C than banana (twice as much) or apples (three times as much).  It has more potassium than apples (3x) and orange (2x) and almost as much as bananas.  It also has markedly more calcium, magnesium, and iron than these other three fruits.

The paw paw fruit on the vine, from USDA
Paw paw fruit does not transport well fresh, and is only a peak taste for a few days.  It is for this reason primarily that it has never been commercialized.  When eaten fresh off the tree, however, the paw paw has a flavor that is something of a cross between banana, pineapple and mango.  Paw paw fruit can be substituted for banana in most recipes.   

Range of the Paw Paw Tree - most of the Eastern United States (from USGS)
Paw paw is relatively disease and insect resistant.  It is recommended that you buy grafted trees if you want sooner fruit production - our preferred source is Stark Brothers.   According to Sheri Crabtree, a paw paw expert at Kentucky State University"Pawpaws do have a strong taproot and can be difficult to dig and transplant".  This tap root needs to be kept moist at almost all times, which requires near constant watering. This makes watering them almost daily essential right after planting.  This is not feasible for most home owners, however.  There is a device that may help, called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon or Waterboxx for short.

The Waterboxx collects dew and rain, stores it in a four gallon reservoir, and slowly releases it to the roots beneath the growing tree.  It also prevents evaporation of soil moisture - allowing a "water column" to form immediately beneath the Waterboxx.  Tap roots are induced to grow straight down in this water column until the tree is well established.  The Waterboxx can then be removed and reused again.  This is all explained in the video below:

We hope to see our natural botanic heritage more appreciated in the future.  We hope you will consider planting a paw paw tree or three.  If you want to try planting with the Waterboxx, it is available here.  

We would love to read your comments below.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gardening During Flood and Drought In Dallas/Fort Worth

The Dallas/Fort Worth Area has extremely unpredictable rainfall.  Months of flood are followed by months with almost no rain.  Just over the last 18 months, the lowest rainfall amount was 0.06 inches in the month of September 2014, but the highest was 16.96 inches in May of 2015, more than 280 times as much!  After that washout in May, July and August of 2015 received less than an inch of rain each!  This was followed by a wet October, with almost 10 inches of rain.  How can anyone garden in such an environment - where almost daily watering is required some months and root washout happens in others?

So, the Dallas/Forth Worth area has variable rain, sometimes with not enough rain and sometimes with floods.  Also, the time when trees and garden plants could benefit most from water (July and August) due to the increased sun, the least rainfall is available.  In scientific terms, water becomes the limiting factor in the height of the growing season.

Is there anything that can help prevent flooding of plants during heavy rains, but also supply water to plants during droughts?  Could this device or system be automatic, rather than relying on gardeners to take time out of their busy schedules to water plants during droughts and cover the soil during heavy rains?  Finally, could this device collect and save water during rainy periods for use during dry periods?  The answer to all three of these questions is yes - and the device is the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon®, or Waterboxx for short.

The Waterboxx is a self refilling water battery for plants.  It is placed around a smaller plant (at least 6 inches tall and with a stalk less than 2 inches in diameter) right after planting.  The Waterboxx is then filled with 4 gallons of water.  This water slowly trickles out, about 50 mL or 10 teaspoons a day, to the roots of a growing plant, via a small wick.  The Waterboxx has a special lotus leaf inspired lid, which allows it to catch dew, transpiration moisture from the plant, as well as rainfall, and store it for later use.  The Waterboxx, although 10 inches tall, is filled with less than 4 inches of rain and has enough water stored (with average water outflow of 50 mL/day) for 300 days without any precipitation.

The Waterboxx also prevents plant over-watering by directing heavy rains away from the roots of the plant.  Once full, the Waterboxx funnels all excess water off to the side of the plant (10 inches away from the stalk).  This channeling away of excess water prevents root washout and also prevents the splitting of tomatoes and melons.

From Groasis - A cross section view of the Waterboxx - water is collected by the tan lid, funneled down the siphons (shown in red here), stored in the green reservoir (which holds 4 liters), and slowly released through the white wick to the roots below. 

The Waterboxx can easily accommodate two tomato plants, two to four pepper plants. two zucchini plants, or one melon or winter squash.  You can see Waterboxx gardening results here.  With more than one plant, an extra wick can be inserted to give more water (which will decrease the length of time the Waterboxx has reserve water, halving it roughly for every doubling of the number of wicks).  

Has the Waterboxx been used in drought conditions before?  Yes.  The Waterboxx was used to grow tomatoes in the height of the California drought in 2015.  Tomatoes planted in Sacramento County, California received no water after planting, and got less than a quarter inch of rain for three months of summer, but still managed to produce over 40 fruits from one plant.  You can see the results of this below.

16 weeks' growth of a tomato plant in Sacramento County California - all with no water after planting.  

What about flood conditions?  How well does the Waterboxx work in flood conditions?  Well, in the same year (2015) that the Waterboxx was growing full sized tomatoes in California, it was growing Roma and cherry tomatoes in Indiana, which had one of the wettest springs and the wettest July on record.  Over 13 inches of rain fell around Indianapolis in July, which would have both washed out most tomato roots and caused most fruits to split.  With the Waterboxx, however, this did not happen. We see no tomatoes split and a bountiful harvest just beginning below. 

Roma (left) and cherry (right) tomatoes growing with the Waterboxx during an extremely wet July, with over 13 inches of rain.  This photo, taken July 21, shows no split tomatoes and an excellent crop - all because the Waterboxx prevents overwatering even in heavy rains.

The Waterboxx works great in a standard 4'x4' raised bed, but also works in traditional garden rows. The consistent water the Waterboxx provides allows the plant to reach their maximum height, while also sparing gardeners hot evenings of watering the garden.   The Waterboxx can also be used to grow trees without any watering after planting in difficult areas like Dallas/Fort Worth.  

The Waterboxx can help residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth area to stop spending hours in the hot summer sun watering their garden plants and just enjoy the fruits of their labor.  If you want to try gardening with the Waterboxx and stop worrying about too much or too little rain, you can find out more here or buy the Waterboxx here.  

We would love to read your comments below.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Water Tomatoes Only Once In Central California Drought

How much can a tomato plant grow if watered only once, at planting?  A great deal, if it is planted with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  Tony Palumbo of Sacramento County, California planted a tomato with the Waterboxx in Folsom in the great drought of 2015.  He provided water for it and the Waterboxx (about 4 gallons) only at planting and then never watered it again.
Week 1 - the tiny tomato is barely visible - but the Waterboxx is designed to allow light to reach it.
The Waterboxx works by collecting occasional rain and more frequent dew, and actually makes condensation more likely as the plastic lid cools down at night.  It doesn't rely on electricity or running water, just nature's genius like the lotus leaf (which inspired the lid).

Week 2 - the tomato plant has more than doubled in size
Because the need for watering is greatly reduced or completely removed with the Waterboxx, the most important input for the plant's growth is now sun.  Central California had that in excess during the summer of 2015, with less than one quarter of one inch of rain during this time.

Week 3 - tomato plant more than doubled in size in one week - with the Waterboxx providing support for the base

The Waterboxx has a four gallon (15 liter)  reservoir, and releases only about 50 mL (10 teaspoons) of water a day through a small wick in the bottom of the reservoir.  This gives approximately 300 days of water to the average plant (although water loving plants may have faster water use).

Week 4 - the first small tomatoes are appearing, very quickly because of the consistent moisture and excellent sun exposure in Central California
It takes only 4 inches of rain total to completely refill the Waterboxx, an amount almost every location in the U.S. gets.  For this reason the Waterboxx was initially used to grow trees - but it works so well for the garden that it is now being used to grow many garden plants.

Week 6 - the single tomato plant already needs three supports because it has grown so large so quickly

The Waterboxx works great for full size tomatoes, but also for Roma and cherry tomatoes (other growers have grown almost 1000 Roma (Juliet) tomatoes and >1500 cherry tomatoes with the Waterboxx).  The Waterboxx can also be used for peppers, melons, eggplant, zucchini, winter squash, and pumpkins.

Week 7 - The first tomatoes are almost ready to harvest
Gardeners can also put more than one vegetable plant per Waterboxx - but this will require extra wicks and some supplemental watering in very dry climates.

Week 16 for Waterboxx planted tomato (left) - 14 produced, 40 tomatoes - left  (traditional with DAILY watering) shows week 13 - 0 produced, 0 tomatoes but some buds
A traditional, non-Waterboxx tomato was planted next to the Waterboxx tomato but three weeks later.  This tomato required watering every single day - but still didn't come close to the Waterboxx tomato in terms of size or fruit produced.

The Waterboxx is transforming gardening in hot climates and during droughts.  You can see more examples of gardening with the Waterboxx - this time in southern California  - here.  You can buy the Waterboxx here or learn more about the Waterboxx here.

16 weeks growth of the Waterboxx tomato plant - all without any water after planting in the Great California Drought - the Waterboxx is truly changing gardening