Saturday, September 13, 2014

Storing the Monsoons

This past  month, Arizona and Nevada were flooded by monsoon rains, with Phoenix recording 3.3 inches of rain in just seven hours, a record for the city.

Everyone knows rain in the desert is rare - that is what defines a desert.  However, when the rare rains do come, the ground is frequently so inhospitable to water that flooding results, and the water quickly rushes away back to rivers and streams toward the ocean.  We are unable to use the water for irrigation purposes, and the vegetation that would be able to use it is frequently swept away.

Is there a way to harvest this rainfall, all while slowly flash flooding?  We know trees slow the speed which rainfall reaches the ground with their leaves force the water to slowly percolate down to the ground.  Also, trees planted along waterways (called riparian buffers) serve as physical barriers to water rushing into already swollen streams.  Tree roots also loosen the soil, allowing compacted desert earth (called hardpan) to accept water rather than running it off like glass.  So, clearly planting more trees in the desert would be a valid way to help with flood control.

However, trees don't easily get established in the desert.  As mentioned, most rainfall comes in a very short period in the desert, and the ground does not absorb it.  This process is explained in the video below.

So, trees (and other plants) need a stored source of water to continue living after the monsoon-like rains disappear.  For this purpose, a device called the Groasis Waterboxx was invented.  The Groasis Waterboxx is a self-refilling water battery for trees, a dew and rain collector that stores water and slowly releases it to the roots of a growing plant.  The principles of the Waterboxx are explained below.

Since the Waterboxx can be completely refilled with just 4 inches of rain, once yearly monsoons can provide much of the water a tree needs.  In fact, the Waterboxx had an 88-99% success rate sustaining young trees for one year in the Sahara desert planting trial.

After the tree grows and gets almost too large for the Waterboxx, the Waterboxx can be removed and reused for other trees for up to ten years.  The Waterboxx planted tree will have deep roots that reach underground capillary water, allowing it to survive the periods between rains without dying.  The deep roots also prevent the tree from being washed away during storms, a serious problem with store bought trees with shallow roots.

Dew Harvest® LLC was started because we saw the incredible value of the Waterboxx, and we hoped to encourage its use in the United States.  We believe huge numbers of trees could be established with this device, storing carbon, mitigating floods, providing food for wildlife and profit and enjoyment to landowners.  Learn more about the Waterboxx, or buy the Waterboxx here.

You can see all our blog posts about planting trees with the Waterboxx here

If you would like to learn how to grow plants without watering with the Waterboxx, the best resource is the book The Waterboxx Gardener: How to Mimic Nature, Stop Watering, and Start Enjoying Your Garden available here on 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Southwest Megadrought

A recent study suggests that the American Southwest may be more likely to undergo a decade long drought within the next hundred years.  The study, by Toby Ault of Cornell University, states that decades long droughts have happened in the past for unknown reasons.  The records of these droughts comes from tree rings (which are narrower if the tree that year grew under drought conditions).

Much of the American Southwest is already in drought conditions, with California and Arizona suffering unusual dryness.  Lake Mead, the great reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, is at historically low levels as seen below.

Lake Mead - From National Park Service - the white rim visible well above the current water level

So if there is not enough water to continue the current lifestyle and agricultural productivity of the desert Southwest from irrigation, what can be done?  Some places, like San Diego, are experimenting with desalination of seawater to make freshwater.  This is not practical for much of the Southwest interior states, or even states like Arizona (which famously lacks ocean front property).  

Because of the obvious presence of rivers and streams, it is forgotten that there is over six times more fresh water in the air than in rivers.  There is also more water available in capillary water (not ground water in the traditional sense) in the soil than is available in rivers and streams.  

When the location of fresh water becomes more evident (air and soil moisture stored as capillary water) the question quickly becomes - how do we access this water?  An inventor and Dutch flower breeder by the name of Pieter Hoff also had this question.  He retired from his flower business, spent 7 years and 7.1 million dollars developing a device to access this water.  His invention is called the Groasis Waterboxx.  The Groasis Waterboxx is a self recharging water battery for trees and other compact plants,  It is filled initially by a person, and the soil underneath it is moistened.  The Waterboxx then collects dew and rainwater, stores it in a fifteen liter reservoir, and slowly releases it to the roots of a growing plant.  The Waterboxx never needs human refilling after initial set up.  

The Waterboxx encourages the roots of the tree to reach for deeper capillary water by creating a vertical water column.   This is directly opposite of traditional irrigation which encourages shallow root growth by releasing large amounts of water to only the top layer of soil.  Shallow roots are then more likely to dry out quickly once the irrigation water is stopped (due to drought).  After the tree reaches this water (and becomes self-sustaining), the Waterboxx can be removed and reused for up to 10 years.  

Dew Harvest® LLC was started in the United States to help promote the Groasis Waterboxx.  We truly desire to see new forests, vineyards, and orchards planted across the drier parts of our nation.  With drought currently evident in much of the country and increasingly likely in others, it is clear that the time for the Groasis Waterboxx has come.  Be the first in your area to start growing trees and other plants with the Groasis Waterboxx.  Buy the Waterboxx today.

You can see all our blog posts about planting trees with the Waterboxx here. We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments". 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Customer Results of Gardening with the Groasis Waterboxx

Dew Harvest® has been selling Groasis Waterboxxes for about 18 months currently, and we feel privileged to introduce this technology to the United States, where it has so many uses.  When we ship Waterboxxes to a customer, we encourage them to email us picture results (to  We are now receiving our first testimonials, and these are very encouraging.

Below, you see a customer in Hemet, California who purchased a tomato plant at a local store and planted it with the Waterboxx.  As you can see, the tomato plant not only survived but thrived and increased greatly in size in just one week.
This customer inserted a second wick in the base of the Waterboxx (to deliver more water to the roots of the tomato), and because of this the Waterboxx may need to be refilled with water occasionally, but it will still collect dew and rainwater and store them in the reservoir.  If only one wick is inserted, the Waterboxx will never need to be refilled.  The Waterboxx's design prevents evaporation of the water that has been released.

Same tomato plant, seven weeks after transplant
This customer from Hemet, California did rig up a hanging trellis system above the indeterminate tomatoes because they grew so large they needed more support.  To quote him "With a good tomato harvest, a single Waterboxx has the potential to pay for itself in one growing season".  
The same tomato plant on November 7, 2014

Of note, tomatoes in particular are much less likely to split because of the consistent 50 mL (10 teaspoons) of water delivered to their roots daily.  Because this customer inserted a second wick into the Waterboxx, the Waterboxx has a net outflow of around 1 gallon per week.  This means the Waterboxx needs to be refilled once a month in the absence of rain.  Of note, this is not necessary with the standard one wick as the Waterboxx will stay in water balance.

The Waterboxx is excellent for growing tomatoes, melons, pumpkins, zucchini, and of course for establishing trees.  What about growing greens.  The same Waterboxx enthusiast as above found an ingenious way to use the water from the Waterboxx for hydrating a whole raised be of greens (34 plants).  It only needed ~3 gallons (or less than one filling) per week of the Waterboxx directly and no overhead watering otherwise.  The gardener is able to enjoy fresh greens daily.

Below you can see Giant Marconi and Carmen peppers growing with the Waterboxx.  This picture was taken in mid-May 2015.

The Groasis Waterboxx was originally designed to let people grow trees, but it can also be used to garden in drought, especially like the one gripping California right now.

Crimson Sweet Watermelon growing with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon® in late June, 2015.  This Waterboxx only has 3 wicks, and only needs refilling about one a week.  The largest of these watermelon right now is almost 20 lbs and in need of picking.   
Small and large tomatoes in late June with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  This customer has such a long growing season that he can except continued tomato production until early November.  The Waterboxx only needs refilling once per week in his location.

Juliet tomatoes grown with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon® during the 2015 drought.  This plant only needed watering 8 times during all of the 2015 growing season, and has produced almost 400 fruit so far (as of July 27).  

Crimson Sweet watermelon grown with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  This plant has produced over 64 lbs of melons with watering only 8 times, all because of the Waterboxx!

If you have recently purchased a Groasis Waterboxx and would like your results displayed (with your location and/or name, your preference being honored), please email them to us at

As always, you can buy the Waterboxx at  

If you would like to learn how to grow plants without watering with the Waterboxx, the best resource is the book The Waterboxx Gardener: How to Mimic Nature, Stop Watering, and Start Enjoying Your Garden available here on