Friday, July 1, 2016

Dew Point and Condensation - Planting Trees with the Groasis Waterboxx

     Dew Point is an interesting and often misunderstood concept.  Dew Point is the temperature that air must reach (decrease to) in order for condensation to take place - the Point on the thermometer at which Dew forms.  We frequently see this with glasses of ice water.  Imagine two identical glasses - one full of room temperature water and one full of a mixture of ice and water.  Which one will develop condensation (popularly known as 'sweat' although this is a very misleading term)?  Experience has probably taught you that only the glass of ice water will induce condensation, sometimes in significant amounts.  The author has even had a cellphone ruined when it was placed next to a glass of ice water in a humid room overnight.  The condensation produced by the glass created a puddle that destroyed the cellphone without the water ever being spilled. Why does this condensation happen?
     Air can hold water in the form of vapor - and warmer air can hold more water vapor.  When you fill a glass (and a glass works better than a plastic cup as glass is a poor insulator) with ice, it cools the air immediately around it.  This local air is cooled below the Dew Point, and the water vapor from the air condenses.
    This is actually why mountains cause rain - as humid air from plains or oceans has to rise to cross over mountain ranges, it cools.  Depending on the height of the mountain range, it usually cools enough for some of the air to lose water in the form of precipitation (rain or snow).
     Why is any of this relevant to anything?  Well, much of the fresh water available on the Earth is actually in the air.  In fact, over 5 times as much water is available in the humidity in the air as is available in rivers on the Earth.  

There is sometimes enough dew on the grass to thoroughly soak your morning slippers - can we put this to use?

     As so little water is available in some areas where trees and other plants need water, a brilliant Dutchman named Pieter Hoff invented a device to use water from the air to grow plants -  without irrigation.  This device is called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.
    The Groasis Waterboxx acts acts in several ways.  The Waterboxx has a reservoir of several gallons of water that is resistant to swings in temperature due to the high specific heat capacity of water.  There is a small air pocket above the water reservoir and immediately below the Waterboxx lid.  The water tends to be cooler than outside air during the day and warmer than the outside air at night.  When the sun sets and the outside air temperature cools, the air pocket between the water reservoir and the Waterboxx lid is cooler than the outside lid (just like a glass of ice water is cooler than the ambient temperature) causing condensation to form faster and in greater amounts.
Originally from Groasis.com

    The Groasis Waterboxx lid is specially designed with microscopic pyramids on top of a funneled, corrugated form.  This design mimics the lotus leaf, and funnels as much dew as possible to the central siphons.  These siphons direct the water collected as dew into the reservoir, and prevent the water from evaporating during the day.  This water is then slowly released to the roots of the growing plant below by a small wick at the base of the green reservoir.  This whole process can be seen in the video below.
 
     The Groasis Waterboxx will collect dew every night, so long as the temperature of the air falls below Dew Point (allowing condensation to form).  It will take up to a year without any rain to empty the reservoir if it is refilled with condensation, when growing trees.  Dry, arid climates that are most in need of the Waterboxx generally have the biggest swings in temperature between day and night due to lack of insulating cloud cover.  These swings mean the temperature is more likely to go both above and below Dew Point, causing condensation.  The Waterboxx works so well in the desert that when used in the Sahara, 88% of single trees (99% of double tree plantings) planted with the Waterboxx survived even though they were never watered again after first planting.  Only 11% of the weekly watered control trees survived.    You can check Dew Point here if you have relative humidity and temperature handy (available here).

What about areas that are so hot and so dry that dew is rarely found on the ground in the morning - can the Waterboxx work there?  Yes, and here's how:

Trees transpire a considerable amount of moisture, and a Waterboxx planted tree of any size (but especially broadleaf/deciduous trees) transpires water vapor over the Waterboxx lid.  On a windless or nearly windless night, this settles on the lid, slides down into the siphons and replenishes the reservoir.  This would be the case even if the relative humidity elsewhere around the tree was so low that the low temperature wouldn't reach dew point.  If a tree is established as recommended with the Waterboxx (with 10 gallons of water poured at time of planting into the soil), that is somewhere near 10 gallons that can be transpired, collected, and recycled.  This 10 gallons doesn't include the amount in the reservoir at planting and the amount collected from dew and rain.  

 Also, the Waterboxx planted tree may lower the daytime and therefore nighttime local temperature slightly (due to shade and humidity), and the local air may reach dew point that way.  Finally, in the beginning of the summer, the water in the reservoir is likely to be cooler than the average air temperature.  This will likely cool the small amount of air in the Waterboxx (the air resides beneath the cream colored lid but above the black midplate), making the surface of the cream colored lid cooler and closer to dew point. So, because the Waterboxx planted tree changes the local environmental conditions, the Waterboxx can be replenished even if the surrounding environment is too hot or dry.
A Waterboxx lid with significant condensation.  This water beads up due to the microscopic pyramids on the Waterboxx lid.

A note about published Dew Points.  We find these to be quite frequently inaccurate.  We have been camping and have had our tent (and the surrounding ground) covered with dew when, by published temperature and dew points, there shouldn't have been any condensation.  Dew Points can be highly local (due to differing local water sources) and the only real way to measure Dew Point is to record the temperature outside when dew begins to form on the ground (or other objects).  

If this all sounds a bit complicated, well, unfortunately that's because it is.  That is likely why a device like the Waterboxx, deceptively simple as it appears, was never developed before.  You can find out more about the Waterboxx on our parent website, Dew Harvest.  You can also buy the Waterboxx here.   We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments". 



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Growing Huge Eggplants Without Watering After Planting

Eggplants are renowned for their deep purple colors and unique flavor.  Eggplants, just like tomatoes, tend to taste much, much better when home grown, rather than when bought from even the best store. Even if store bought produce is grown and picked when flavorful, it frequently travels so far and for so long that when available in the store it is less than appetizing. This is probably never more true than with eggplants, which can be leathery and foul tasting having had to travel long distances.

Produce or "consume" from a local grocery store - this hardly makes us want to eat our vegetables
The solution to the flavorless store bought eggplant is to grow them yourself, in your own garden.  Growing eggplants can be a great joy, if done correctly.  We, however had years of disappointment growing eggplants in our raised beds.  It always seemed like something was off, something always conspired to keep the eggplants from producing well.  Some years the transplanted seedling would barely grow, other years the larger plants wouldn't set fruit.  Finally, even when the plants did set fruit well, like in 2015, the plant was so bogged down that the fruits touched the ground and were soon eaten by ants.

Eggplants have very specific requirements for good growth, detailed below:
  • Rich soil, such as that provided by well composted humus
  • Even and consistent water to its roots
  • Consistently warm temperatures
  • Minimal wind
First, let's discuss the soil.  We strongly recommend composting - in fact we have made a podcast on how to get started composting (listen to all our podcasts here).    At the end of every growing season, you should be working your composted humus or organic matter into the soil by hand or with a spade or soil knife.  If you include pureed (yes - put them in a second hand blender and press puree) eggshells and decaying plant matter from many different sources, your compost should have all essential nutrients.  Listen to our composting podcast to hear what you should and should not put into your compost.  As long as you rotate crop locations each year, adding fresh compost really should mostly take care of any nutritional deficiencies the eggplants are likely to have.  We have not had  nutrient deficiencies causing poor growth, using compost.

The next three problems seem somewhat out of a gardener's hands.  How do you make sure consistent water is provided to the eggplants, especially in raised beds which dry out quickly?  A gardener could of course water their garden every single day (a significant time commitment) but then how do you prevent splitting of the eggplant after heavy rains?  

Also, how do you keep the eggplants warm on cool nights?  Finally, how do you shield eggplants from wind, especially when the seedlings are young and fragile?

These three problems - water, warmth, and wind, are all addressable with a single device, the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon, or Waterboxx for short.  The Waterboxx is an intelligent plant incubator, inspired by nature, that allows gardeners to grow eggplants (as well as tomatoes and other plants) without continued watering after planting.  The Waterboxx, seen below, collects dew, other condensation, and rainwater,  stores it in a fifteen liter reservoir, and slowly releases this water to the roots of a growing plant, like a tree, tomato or eggplant.   


A schematic cross sectional view of the Waterboxx: water is collected on the corrugated tan lid, funneled down siphons shown in red, stored in the green reservoir, and slowly released, by hygroscopic capillary action, into the soil below through a white wick.  
The Waterboxx releases water through one or two wicks only when the soil is dry, so only when it is needed by the plant's roots.  The Waterboxx will almost never run out of water if only one wick is used, and even with two wicks is likely to need watering very rarely.  With two wicks and two eggplants per Waterboxx, we have never needed to add water manually - natural sources provide enough.  After all, it takes only 4 inches of rain to fill the Waterboxx.  

When your garden does receive heavy rain, this can flood the soil and cause the eggplants to split.  The Waterboxx prevents this by storing most of the water that would be going directly to the plant roots and funneling the rest at least 10 inches away from the plants through an overflow spout.  This prevents the roots from getting water logged and prevents the eggplants from splitting, even after heavy rains.  

What about the need for minimal wind but for consistent warm temperatures?  Well - the Waterboxx provides this as well.  When eggplant plants are small (less than 20 inches) they are mostly shielded from blowing winds by the Waterboxx.  As the plant grows (and grow it will given the consistent moisture from the Waterboxx), the Waterboxx still protects the base the plant stalk and keeps it from blowing over.

Water is very good at providing consistent temperatures.  This is why some areas along the coast, like San Diego, have mild climates throughout the year almost irrespective of the season.  This also applies to the water in the Waterboxx, although on a much smaller scale.  The water in the Waterboxx reservoir resists changes in temperature, keeping the plant cool during the day and warm at night.  This can be seen below in infrared photos showing how the Waterboxx cools the soil and roots on even a very hot day.

On these infrared photographs, cool is purple and hot is yellow.  Although the ambient temperature is near 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius),  the Waterboxx keeps the soil closer to an ideal room temperature - all without any electricity
So, even if the theory is sound, how effective is the Waterboxx at growing eggplants?  Well, we have the biggest eggplant plants we have ever seen, growing with the Waterboxx, all without any watering after planting and Waterboxx set up:

Two eggplants growing in a Waterboxx in a late June in central Indiana.  To judge scale, the white lid of the Waterboxx is 10 inches tall, so this plant is almost 40 inches tall currently, and it isn't even close to done growing!
Okay, so even if the Waterboxx has a strong theoretical basis for working and it grows the eggplant plants large, that doesn't mean this leads to more or better looking eggplants.  Well, our friend Bill McNeese in Hemet, Southern California was able to keep harvesting beautiful, large eggplants up until December of 2015, as seen below.  As you can see, the Waterboxx also keeps the fruit off the soil, preventing premature decay.  

Eggplants being harvested in December 2015 in southern California 
So, the Waterboxx has both a theoretical basis and proven results for growing large, prolific eggplants.  We recommend planting two eggplants per Waterboxx, one in each end of the figure "8" shaped central opening, leading to better pollination and more fruit.  When using two eggplants a second wick should be inserted into the Waterboxx, and the water level in the Waterboxx checked every other week.

The Waterboxx can also work for other garden vegetables with a compact central stalk like tomatoes and peppers.  You can find out more about the Waterboxx here or buy the Waterboxx here.  Please visit our main website, www.dewharvest.com, to see all the Waterboxx's awards as well as a video of how the Waterboxx functions.  

We would love to read your comments below.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

STOP WATERING YOUR TOMATOES!!!

Since time immemorial, it has been almost impossible to water tomatoes correctly.  Water too little, and you will get very poor growth.  Water too much, and your tomatoes will split.  Other diseases, like blossom end rot, are also due to problems with watering.  It seems almost impossible to get tomatoes consistent amounts of water, regardless of rainfall or drought.

Raised beds somewhat solved the problem of overwatering - especially after heavy rains.  The "Mel's Mix" of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost advocated by the late, great Mel Bartholomew in his book All New Square Foot Gardening works well to hold moisture.  Also, because this soil mix is only used in raised beds, water will not stand and suffocate tomato roots.  The problem with raised beds, even with Mel's Mix, is that with the limited depth of soil, the soil dries out very quickly - potentially in just one day in hot, windy, dry climates.  This means a great deal of work for the average gardener - with manual watering required every single day.  Of course, an irrigation system could be set up - but this is very expensive, time consuming, and isn't really worth it for just a few tomato plants.

So, the problem of how to water tomatoes remained, until, that is, of the invention of a device called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon, or Waterboxx for short.  The Waterboxx was originally designed by a Dutch lily and tulip breeder, Pieter Hoff, to grow trees in very dry areas without electricity or running water.  It soon became evident, however, that the Waterboxx would work superbly for growing tomatoes.




A schematic cutaway view showing how the Waterboxx functions - water is collected from dew, condensation, and rainfall on the tan lid, funneled down siphons (shown here in red) to a 4 gallon reservoir, where it is stored and slowly released to the roots of the plants growing in a central opening.  Image from Groasis.com
The Waterboxx has since been used throughout the world to grow tomatoes.  Here in the U.S., we have seen that it is possible to grow tomatoes in a profound drought without any water added after planting, as Waterboxx enthusiast Tony Palumbo discovered in 2015 in Sacramento County, California.  As you can see below - the Waterboxx planted tomato there did excellent without any watering after planting, even in 106 degree heat, and with less than a quarter inch of rain the entire growing season.  

A summer's growth of a Waterboxx tomato - all without any watering after Waterboxx set up - even with less than 0.25 inches of rain and maximum temperatures of 106 degrees!  This single Waterboxx tomato grew 56 tomatoes.

In Sacramento County, 56 tomatoes were harvested from this one plant without any watering after planting.   This number of tomatoes is more than enough for most people -but if you want more for canning or making sauce, you can insert extra wicks into the Waterboxx and get an even greater yield (with some extra watering).   In Southern California (Hemet), 981 Juliet (Roma style) tomatoes were harvested from a single Waterboxx (with extra wicks) with just 6 times of watering all summer.
A single day's harvest of beautiful Juliet tomatoes in Hemet California from our friend, Bill McNeese
In Indiana, where we are based, we have had over 1500 cherry tomatoes grow with a single Waterboxx, all without any watering after planting.  Even though cherry tomatoes are known for splitting, we had less than 1% split due to the consistent moisture provided by the Waterboxx, even after heavy rains.

Roma and cherry tomatoes planted in a Waterboxx - the Roma plant was destroyed in a storm but the cherry tomato plant went on to produce over 1500 tomatoes - all without any watering after planting!

We have been gardening since childhood and the Waterboxx is the best device or method we have seen for growing tomatoes.  We believe so strongly in the potential of the Waterboxx, that we created a company to promote and sell it here in the U.S. - Dew Harvest LLC at www.dewharvest.com.  If you are interested in trying out the Waterboxx, especially if you live in a drier climate (like the Southwest), you can visit our buy page and buy the Waterboxx here.

We would love to read your comments below.  Happy planting!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Community Gardening Without Running Water

Community gardens are a wonderful thing - they provide a chance for people who don't have yards or space for their own garden to come together and grow healthy, local, carbon neutral or even carbon negative food.

The biggest problem with community gardening has been the time commitment needed for such a garden.  Many community gardeners, because of work, family, and other obligations, are unable to visit their garden plots during the work week. This means that all weeding and watering needs to be done on the weekend visit.  Many people visit their garden Saturdays to find their plants wilted and plots overgrown with weeds.  This problem is made especially acute with the widespread adoption of raised bed gardens, where the limited depth of the soil allows it to to dry out quickly.

Is there any solution to this problem - a way to both water your community garden plot while away and keep weeds from growing?  Yes, there is.  A Dutch device, called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon, or Waterboxx can do precisely this - water garden plants without human effort.  It also blocks weed growth for a radius of 20 inches around a garden plant, without any form of herbicide or manual labor, after set up.

The Waterboxx functions by collecting dew, other condensation, and rain water on its lotus leaf inspired lid.  It then funnels this water into a 4 gallon reservoir, which is filled at set up with pure water.  This water is then slowly released to the soil below via one or more small wicks.  Up to three garden plants are planted in a central opening of the Waterboxx, and are cooled during the hot summer months by the water in the reservoir, reducing transpiration and decreasing water need.  Soil moisture is kept from evaporation by the Waterboxx as well.

A cutaway view of the Waterboxx showing function - water is collected by the tan lid, funneled into the reservoir, and slowly released to the soil below by a white wick.  The figure "8" shaped central opening has space for up to three garden plants.
The Waterboxx can be filled only at planting for many plants in many areas, and not need manual refilling at all during an entire growing season.  Four inches of rain is enough to completely refill this device.

Five Waterboxxes can easily fit in a standard 4x4 foot raised bed garden, with some space between the Waterboxxes for supports as well as other plants like beans, peas, or lettuce.

A single 4x4 foot raised bed with 5 Waterboxxes growing 4 peppers, 2 tomatilloes, 2 tomatoes, and several green, purple, and yellow beans.  No water has been added to the Waterboxxes since planting but they are still full.
The Waterboxx can easily be rented to gardeners with a garden plot - especially as they are designed to last 10 years.  At the end of every planting season, the wicks are removed and replaced, and the Waterboxxes are easily stacked for the following planting season.

The Groasis Waterboxx can completely change community gardening.  If you are interested in purchasing a Waterboxx, please visit our website, here.  Find out more about the Waterboxx here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Gardening In New Mexico with the Country's Most Expensive Water

New Mexico is the third sunniest state in America.  Because of this, it could be a gardening paradise, growing many plants that need long growing seasons and extensive sunshine.  However, New Mexico also has very expensive water overall.  Some cities in New Mexico, like Sante Fe, charge more, even in per gallon terms, to higher users of water - something called tiered pricing.  This means maintaining a garden purely on water from the tap can get very expensive, especially with water hungry raised beds.

However, unlike most dry places, Sante Fe and its greater metropolitan area actually get more rain in the height of the growing season, something unusual for the American Southwest.  Rainfall averages more than 2 inches in July and August, more than any other months.  June, September, and October are the third through fifth wettest months in this area.  Clearly, if this water could be effectively captured, it may be able to be used by garden plants.

That is where a new invention called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon, or Waterboxx for short, can be used.  The Waterboxx is somewhat like an individual rain barrel for plants - but instead of needing a big roof to capture the water and then a hose (and hill) to transfer it, the Waterboxx does all of these functions itself.

A cross section view of the Waterboxx showing function - water is collected by the tan lid, channels through the siphons shown in red into a green reservoir.  The Water is then stored until the soil is dry enough to pull it through a white wick to the roots of the growing plant, in the central opening of the Waterboxx.  

This device collects rainfall and dew when available and stores it for later use by a plant, which is planted in its center.  You can how the Waterboxx works in the video below.



The Waterboxx allows many different plants to be grown. The Waterboxx is set up at the beginning of the growing season.  At that time, 4 gallons of fresh water are added to the Waterboxx.  For many plants, no further manual watering is needed, even with minimal rain.  This is evident in the pictures of a tomato growing with the Waterboxx below.  No water was added, even during the 2015 drought in Sacramento County, California, during the entire growing season.  The maximum temperature during this time was 106 degrees and there was less than 0.25 inches of rain recorded - during the entire growing season.

54 Tomatoes were produced by this plant during the scorching, nearly rainless Sacramento, California summer of 2015 - all without one drop of water added after planting.  

The Waterboxx allows gardeners to plant any garden plant with a compact central stalk and experience excellent harvests - frequently with no watering after Waterboxx set up.  With the standard one wick, it can take months without rain for the Waterboxx reservoir to be depleted.  Also, the Waterboxx refills completely with just 4 inches of rain - so it may get enough rain in July and August to keep water in the reservoir, even with water hungry plants.  One of our favorite uses of the Waterboxx is for growing eggplant and peppers, like below:


The peppers were grown in the California drought with only once weekly watering (because the Waterboxx had extra wicks inserted).  

The Waterboxx also works extremely well for tomatoes and vine plants like melons.  Tomatoes need very consistent moisture, which is easily provided by the Waterboxx, preventing splitting, even after heavy rains.

Melons and tomatoes growing in southern California with the Waterboxx, which is hidden in the background.
The Waterboxx can decrease the amount and potentially eliminate the ongoing water you must apply to your garden.  Four gallons at set up can be enough for up to two plants for an entire growing season.  For those in and around Sante Fe, the Waterboxx can be a way to use expensive tap water effectively, capture rainwater, and still grow a beautiful, productive garden.  The Waterboxx can be excellent for community, shared, or church gardens as it greatly decreases the water bill and also decreases the amount of time needed watering.

You can find out more about the Waterboxx, including how it can be used to grow trees, at our website, www.dewharvest.com.  There we sell the Waterboxx with discounts on large orders and free shipping.  

Natural Desalination In San Diego To Water Your Garden Plants

San Diego has recently opened the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere to help provide water to its citizens.  This very, very energy intensive process (which uses the same amount of electricity as that required to power 28,500 homes) will provide consistent fresh water, but water that is twice as expensive as that from other sources.

Of course, after all the effort spent obtaining that water, it would be a shame to use it poorly, or use more of it than needed  How are San Diegans then to garden?  Every gardener knows that plants need consistent moisture, especially in sun-soaked areas like San Diego.

Plants, surprisingly, don't use most of the water they are given.  Most of the water that falls on the soil percolates down into the soil into aquifers, runs off into rivers, or just evaporates.  Plants also use much moisture to cool themselves through a process very similar to sweating - transpiration - and this water is never recaptured.  This, to us, seems like a very wasteful system.

Is there anything that can decrease this water waste in the garden- especially given San Diego new very expensive, very energy intensive water?  Yes - there is - a device called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon, or Waterboxx for short.

A schematic view of the Waterboxx with 1/4 cut away.  The Waterboxx works by gathering dew and other condensation on its tan lid, funneling that into a reservoir which holds 15 liters or almost 4 gallons, and then slowly releasing that, via capillary action, to the roots of a growing plant.  
The Waterboxx is a device, inspired by biomimicry or learning from nature.  In nature, several lizards and beetles survive in very dry areas by having condensation form on tiny pyramids on their bodies.  This water is channeled to their mouths, allowing these animals to literally "drink the air".  Perhaps these creatures were the inspiration for the ad campaign "taste the rainbow".

How is the Waterboxx completing desalination?  Well - it isn't doing the whole process on its own.    The sun is causing water to evaporate from the ocean, filling the air with humidity and sometimes rain clouds.  The Waterboxx can harvest the humidity as morning dew and, when it does rain, harvest the rain. This prevents the water being wasted - natural desalination.

The Australian Thorny Devil - an animal that uses its horns not primarily for defense but to increase surface area to gather water.  The water is then led down special channels to the animals mouth where it is consumed.  From Wikipedia, by Baras (his own work), via Wikimedia Commons - click for link
Once this water has been collected from dew (or rainfall when available - it takes only 4 inches of rain to fill the almost 4 gallon reservoir of the Waterboxx) - it is channeled into a storage basin.  From here the water is slowly released from the reservoir, in the amounts needed by the plant - through a small, woven wick to the soil below.  This process - wicking or capillary action - is the same process that allows water to be raised 300 feet against gravity in giant sequoias in California.

Once the water is in the soil the Waterboxx prevents the sun from reaching it - preventing evaporation.  The soil can still get oxygen, though, thanks to the Waterboxx's design.

How does this help San Diegans?  Well - the Waterboxx allows you to plant many garden plants and then never water them again!  That's right - many plants like tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos and peppers, if planted one per Waterboxx with a single wick, will likely not need any watering after planting during the whole growing season.

For more water hungry plants like melons, extra wicks can be added but the Waterboxx needs refilling only once every few weeks at most - a huge savings in water and time.  You can see results of growing with the Waterboxx in southern California on our website here.

2 Zucchini plants growing with the Waterboxx - no water after Waterboxx set up and still 28 zucchini were harvested.  
San Diego uses a lot of electricity and money to obtain its fresh water.  Put this water to good use in your yard by preventing water waste and loss with the Groasis Waterboxx.  You can buy the Waterboxx here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Gardening in the Austin Summer

Austin is a city that loves the environment.  Unfortunately, the environment doesn't always love Austin.  After an extremely wet May in much of east and central Texas, the weather now looks to have turned back to the norm - very hot, very dry.  This swing in weather makes it almost impossible for a gardener in Austin and the surrounding area to be successful.  How can anyone deal with flooding rains for a month and then drought.  Even if your seeds did germinate in the rains, they likely now have very shallow roots which will dry out quickly unless frequently watered.

Well, luckily Austin is blessed with a long planting season.  Right now, mid June, is the time for planting winter squashes (spaghetti, butternut, acorn).  Is there any system or technology that will allow these plants to be grown in rapidly fluctuating rainfall conditions and in extreme heat?  Also, could any technology cut down or even eliminate the watering and weeding that the gardener needs to do?

Yes - that technology is the Groasis Waterboxx by Dew Harvest.  The Groasis Waterboxx or Waterboxx for short is a brilliant invention from Holland, the world's leaders in understanding water.  It was designed to grow trees in deserts, but it also works very well for growing garden plants with minimal (and likely no) water after planting and set up.

A schematic cutaway view of the Waterboxx growing a tree - water is collected from condensation and rain by the tan lid, funneled down the siphons shown in red, to a 15 liter reservoir shown in green, and slowly released by a wick shown in white (image from Groasis.com)

The Waterboxx is somewhat like a rain barrel the sits right around the plant.  However, this rain barrel also collects dew in addition to rainwater, and potentially even collects some transpiration moisture from the plant in its center.  The water is very slowly released via one or two wicks to the soil beneath.  The Waterboxx then prevents evaporation of this soil moisture.  The whole Waterboxx, which holds almost 4 gallons, is refilled with just 4 inches of rain.


A single acorn squash growing with the Groasis Waterboxx - this one plant produced 13 huge acorn squashes, all without any water added after Waterboxx set up.
Because the Waterboxx sits right around the desired plant (with the plant in regular soil) - very little weeding is also needed.

The Waterboxx works fine for traditional row or raised bed gardens - 5 Waterboxxes and up to 10 plants easily fit in a standard 4x4 foot raised bed garden.

The Waterboxx growing a giant pumpkin - about the only work we needed to do for this pumpkin was remove extra unwanted pumpkins and keep the vine off the grass.  
The Waterboxx works well for any plant with a compact central stalk - whether that be squash, pumpkins, melons, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers.  Green beans and other non compact plants can be planted in the areas between Waterboxxes.

The Waterboxx works extremely well for tomatoes of all varieties.  It prevents splitting after heavy rains (because of an overflow spout) and also keeps consistent moisture to the fruits - reducing blossom end rot and optimizing growth.
Waterboxxes can also be used to help older or disabled family members garden.  Many people are able to pick produce from a garden but are not able to carry watering cans or hose to it daily.  The Waterboxx solves this problem - all you have to do for your friend or family member is plant, set up the Waterboxx, and, if needed, provide a trellis for the plant.

You can find out more about the Waterboxx or buy a Waterboxx on our website, www.dewharvest.com