Friday, October 30, 2015

Decrease Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Gardening

There are five major gases that are thought to warm the Earth's atmosphere - water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.  Water vapor is emitted by plant life as well as many other natural processes, has many good effects, and is not something that can (or should) be easily decreased.  Three of the other four gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and ozone) are all produced to a certain extent by transportation using fossil fuels.  Methane is produced in significant amounts by anaerobic digestion of organic material in landfills.

How can the average person decrease their production of these gases without harming their standard of living?  Most proposed solutions to the pollutants listed above are terrible for the economy or extremely expensive for the average person - electric cars are hardly affordable and solar panels aren't yet practical, for example.  A simpler solution is, however, available.  A well meaning person can engage in a nature based activity that may save money, get them exercise, and improve their health - that person can plant a garden.  

Gardens allow food to be grown essentially at the point of consumption.  Grocery store bought produce can travel a great distance to market, up to 1,500 miles in one study.  It is much less energy intensive to transport seeds than to transport whole fruits and vegetables.  Some plants (called heirloom) produce true breeding seeds in their fruits, so a one time seed purchase would be all that was needed for a lifetime of produce.

 Also, garden fruits and vegetables can generally be left on the vine until the gardener is ready to eat them.  This greatly decreases the energy needed to preserve produce (in refrigerated trucks, cooled grocery stores displays, and in the consumer's refrigerator).

Produce available in stores is bred to be transported and shelf stable - not to be tasty.  This produce is often picked before ripe, transported "green" and ripened with a gas treatment.  This means that is is frequently less palatable than home grown produce.  Thus, people are much more likely to discard bland store bought produce than they are to discard better tasting produce they took the effort to grow themselves.  As the song says - "there are only two things that money can't buy - and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes".

So, growing your own produce can decrease the greenhouse gases the come from refrigerating and transporting that produce - carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and ozone.  What about methane?  Methane isn't a pollutant released during typical food transport - it is actually the key component of natural gas and a fuel source.  Methane is produced by the average person's garbage when organic matter is discarded into a landfill.  In that landfill, there is insufficient oxygen for aerobic digestion so the organic matter undergoes a process of anaerobic digestion.  This anaerobic digestion produces methane - which is thought to be a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  This methane is sometimes captured and used for energy, but frequently it leaks into the atmosphere.

How can methane production from household garbage be prevented?  Composting can decrease methane production dramatically.   A huge amount of household waste can be composted, from leaves and grass clippings, to coffee grounds and filters, to banana peels, melon rinds, eggshells, and even paper plates.  What shouldn't be composted is animal products other than eggshells, (meat, cheese, etc), oil, or pet droppings (this last is vitally important).

Composting is something that happens naturally, and if you put the compostable materials listed above in a heap you would eventually find it turned into rich soil.  However, you can dramatically speed the process up by turning your compost pile or buying (or making) a compost tumbler.

People have very little incentive to compost unless they have a garden in which to use their newly produced soil, so gardening and composting are great complements to one another.

Isn't gardening hard work, with tilling, watering under the hot sun, for hardly any produce?  Not anymore!  Two great advances have made gardening enjoyable, easy, and extremely productive in almost every climate.  Raised bed gardening (popularized as "Square Foot Gardening" by the brilliant Mel Bartholomew) has eliminated the need to slowly improve and yearly till the soil.  This was only half of the battle however - as watering the raised bed garden still took significant time.  Then an even more brilliant device called the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon (or Waterboxx) was used in raised bed gardens.  This device, the Waterboxx, collects and holds dew and rainwater and slowly releases it to the roots of a growing plant.

A Waterboxx growing Roma and cherry tomatoes.  Although the Roma tomato was destroyed in a storm, the cherry tomato plant went on to produce over 1500 tomatoes in one growing season - all without ANY watering after transplanting outside with the Waterboxx.
So, gardening can help you get fresh, great tasting produce all while helping the environment.  If you want to get started, we suggest reading Square Foot Gardening and trying out the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.

We would love to see your comments below.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Make Your Own Soil By Composting

Compost isn't exactly an exciting topic but one that each gardener should understand.  Most gardens, raised bed or traditional, should have compost worked into their soil yearly,  This provides humus (the organic or carbon-containing part of the soil that allows it to retain moisture) as well as nutrients like calcium and nitrogen to the soil and the future plant.  Also, compost allows food scrapes to be kept out of landfills where the scrapes would digest anaerobically, releasing methane (which is a potent greenhouse gas).
Compost can consist of all vegetable matter except seeds, coffee grounds and filters, paper towels and paper plates that weren't used with animal products, and eggshells.  Grass clipping and wood chips can also be added.

Almost all plant matter and some animal matter can be composted.  For the beginner's purposes, just remember, no meat, oils, or dairy products.  You technically can compost herbivore (chicken, cow, horse) droppings but I would recommend against this for the new gardener.  Never compost pet droppings - ever.  These can contain deadly (or teratogenic to a growing fetus) bacteria and parasites that you don't want near your food.  Egg shells can be composted but should be broken into small pieces to increase their surface area as they do take time to decompose.

You can compost really all plant matter if done properly.  Stems, peels, inedible cores and the like from fruits and vegetables will of course break down under most conditions.  Regarding seeds - these will break down if consistently exposed to temperatures greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  This may not happen in a compost pile but should happen with a tumbler in warmer climates in summer (see below).

As you will likely generate compostable materials throughout the day, we suggest a compost pail with lid right outside the house that can be emptied once or twice a week.  Whenever it suits you (say after a breakfast of coffee, eggs and a banana producing grounds, shells and a peel), take your compostable material to the pail - and replace the lid.  This should be outside the home because eventually it will likely get gnats -which are better left outside.
A moderate size aluminum compost pail - make sure it has a filter and air holes in the lid to prevent anaerobic decay.
Composting will start on its own in the pail but will not progress much - it needs to go to the main compost site.  If you so chose, you can have a compost pile in part of your yard.  This will need to be thoroughly mixed every week or so, and may smell if left longer.  For this reason, we strongly recommend a compost tumbler.  These vary in shape and size but all have a central axis (similar to a spit) to turn, as well as a door and a way for oxygen to enter the tumbler.  They are not cheap - $100-$200, but with limited space in most suburban yards are well worth it in our opinion.

Our trusty compost tumbler has stood up to 4 years of use with only some minor wear.  Our rule is every time we see the tumbler, we spin the tumbler.  
When do you know when the compost is done?  The simple answer is that it will look like potting soil or very rich earth.  If using a compost tumbler, we recommend taking your compost out at the end of summer and working it into the soil after the end of the growing season.  There are several reasons for this.  First, it allows you room for all the fall compostable materials (leaves, grass, dead garden plants).  Secondly, it encourages gardeners to clean their raised beds of that years plants and fallen fruits.  Finally, as some seed have likely found their way into your compost (from discarded vegetables or weed seeds in grass clippings), end of summer use of the compost means most of these seeds will be dead.  Our worst year for weeds in the garden happened after we tried to compost only in the winter and put the compost on in the spring.  Compost is like most things in the garden - only one crop per year, and it comes at the end of the growing season.

Won't you run out of space with all your compost in the tumbler?  Possibly, but unlikely.  Compost tends to decrease in size as it decomposes.  If you find yourself filling a compost tumbler mid spring, we suggest you get a second and alternate which tumbler to which you add new material.

It isn't fast, but composting also isn't complicated.  Stick to the rules, spin your composter regularly, and you will find you don't need to spend money on fertilizer or potting soil.  Also, you may save money if you are charged per bag or pound of trash.  Composting is one way, along with using the Waterboxx PlantCocoon, to decrease the waste and work of growing your own food.  Happy gardening!

We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments".

Grow Cantaloupe and Tomatilloes With Less Water and Less Work

Cantaloupe is one of the great harvests of any raised bed garden.  Unlike Watermelon or pumpkins, it doesn't take up that much room and can be grown on a trellis.  We have grown cantaloupe with varying success over the past few years, but we grew tired of the frequent watering and weeding around the base.  We decided we would try using a device called the Groasis Waterboxx to water the cantaloupe after planting and keep weeds from growing at its base.

A cutaway view of the Groasis Waterboxx.  It channels dew and rainwater using its tan lid, stores this water in the green reservoir, and slowly releases it through the wick to the roots of the growing plant.  
We inserted one extra wick into our Waterboxx, but it still had room for one more plant if that plant wasn't very water intensive.  We received a few tomatillo plants from a friend and decided to plant one next to the Ambrosio Cantaloupe.  Both of these were started inside under lights and transplanted into our raised bed garden on May 28.  The Waterboxx was put in place around them, and was filled with about 4 gallons of water.  We don't expect to need to fill the Waterboxx at all again as it refills itself through natural processes (dew, transpiration, and rain).
The Ambrosia Cantaloupe (left) and Tomatillo (left) on May 28, 2015, the day the Waterboxx was put in place.  

Our work with these plants is largely done except for redirecting them to the string trellis and waiting to harvest.  We placed the string trellis North of the plants to allow the most sunlight to get to the plants around this corner.
The Cantaloupe (still on left) is beginning to grow up the string trellis on this photo from June 18, 2014.  The Tomatillo on the right is now about a foot in height.  The Waterboxx is full even without manual watering due to recent rains.   
We haven't had to manually water the plants once as they get all water needs from the Waterboxx.  We also haven't needed to fill the Waterboxx with any more water.  The Waterboxx also prevents weeds from growing near the plants (we have a squash planted below the Waterboxx and corn to the right in the photo above).

We did add 2 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plants on July 1.

We will continue to update this post with pictures of the Waterboxx, including our final product - fresh cantaloupe and tomatillos. We have harvested over 30 tomatillos this year.

We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

We would love to hear your comments - please leave one by clicking on the 'comment' link below.

Grow Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins Without Watering After Planting

Carving a pumpkin with children in your family before Halloween every year is great fun.  Perhaps more fun, though, is growing that pumpkin with your children or grandchildren.  In this post we will describe how we use a seemingly simple yet little know tool to grow Howden (Jack-O-Lantern sized) pumpkins with watering only right after germination and at planting.

The Howden Pumpkin in the peat pot right before transplanting May 9, 2015

Recommendations very, but if you live in an area with shorter summers (like Central Indiana where we are based), you may want to start your pumpkin inside in a peat pot.  This allows you to transplant with the minimum amount of trauma to the roots.  If planting with children, make sure to have them put the seeds in the soil (push the seeds down ~1/4 inch) and apply the first water.  You can be the one to water the peat pot until the pumpkin is ready to transplant.

Howden Pumpkin after transplanting June 6 2015
We do suggest that you plant your pumpkin into a mound.  We found an area of grass in our yard we didn't like mowing, covered it with weed cloth (which blocks weeds but allows water through), and cut out a circular spot about 25 inches in diameter.  Here we made a mound (to ensure water drainage) of Miracle-Gro potting soil.  We then transplanted the pumpkin into the center of this mound.

Our seemingly simple tool that will make the planting and harvesting of the pumpkins fun rather than hot and frustrating is the Groasis Waterboxx, shown in a cut away view above.  This device was developed in Holland to grow trees in the desert, but it works very well for vine plants which with higher water requirements in areas with moderate rainfall.   It collects water from dew and rain, and stores it in a reservoir.  It then releases the water through a wick to the soil beneath, depending on the moisture of the soil and the needs of the plant. We placed the Waterboxx around our transplanted pumpkin in mid May.  We then filled the Waterboxx with water (about 4 gallons), and began to tend to the rest of our yard.  We do not think we will need to give the pumpkins any water between the Waterboxx set up and harvesting.  

Howden Pumpkin growing the the Waterboxx on June 6, 2015.  We filled the Waterboxx with 15 liters (~4 gallons) of water at set up, but haven't had to refill it yet.
Howden Pumpkin on June 18, 2015.  This has now gotten so big as to be difficult to photograph in one image.  We still haven't added any water manually to the pumpkin or the Waterboxx.   
We had actually forgotten about our Howden Pumpkin in the process of tending to the rest of our garden, but the Waterboxx remains filled with water despite our neglect.  We have seen our orange squash bees pollinating our other cucurbits so we hope to see little pumpkins growing on our Waterboxx planted pumpkin soon.  We will continue to update this post with pictures of the growing pumpkin (as well as our Jack-O-Lanterns when we carve them).  We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

An excellent sized pumpkin grown without watering with the Waterboxx

We did add 4 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plant on July 1.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments".

Growing Butternut Squash Without Watering or Weeding

Squash and other cucurbits (vining crops like pumpkins) are native to the Americas, and are one of the great gifts inherited from the native peoples here.  For those interested in growing squash but weary of frequently watering and weeding of this plant, growing squash with the Groasis Waterboxx may be just right.

A cutaway view of the Groasis Waterboxx.  It channels dew and rainwater using its tan lid, stores this water in the green reservoir, and slowly releases it through the wick to the roots of the growing plant.  With one wick the Waterboxx should never need manual refilling.
We started our butternut squash indoors, and transplanted it into our raised bed garden on May 2.  Like most Waterboxx crops in the raised bed, we will give this one four square feet in a 2' x 2' area.  Our planting is seen below.  After planting the squash and placing the white evaporation cover carefully around its stem, we placed the Waterboxx over the plant and carefully pulled the plant leaves up through the central opening.  We then filled the Waterboxx with 15 liters (about 4 gallons) of water.  This Waterboxx has two wicks (instead of the usual one) to provide water to the plant, so it may need to be periodically refilled.  We will note in this post if that happens.  Otherwise, rain and dew will refill the Waterboxx without human intervention.

A butternut squash grown indoors from seed then transplanted outside on May 2, 2015.  It was watered, had the white evaporation cover placed around its base, and then had the Waterboxx (seen in lower right) placed around it and filled with Water.  The squash will get all the water it needs from the Waterboxx.  
Cucurbits like squash frequently have severe transplant shock, as was the case with our squash. However, the Waterboxx kept the squash from being too damaged by the transplant, and had more than recovered by May 19 as seen below.

The butternut squash on May 19, 2015.  It has not had any water but that provided by the Waterboxx, which hasn't been refilled. 
The squash has fully recovered and grown significantly by May 28, as seen below.  We still haven't added any water to the Waterboxx manually (the occasional rain and daily dew has replenished water in the reservoir).

The Waterboxx Squash on May 28, 2015.  There has still been no water added to the Waterboxx.  

You will notice that in the pictures above there are some weeds growing around the Waterboxx.  This was likely due to poor composting (not allowing compost to bake through hot summer to kill weed seeds in the compost tumbler).  However, with the Waterboxx blocking these weeds from growing next to our squash (and competing for sunlight and water), we do not need to worry about the weeds stealing nutrients or sunlight.

Butternut Squash on June 18, 2015.  The Squash is getting to large for its plot and will be trained up a string trellis to the North.  We still haven't added any water to the Waterboxx or the soil around the plant.
We did add 4 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plant on July 1.

A large butternut squash, grown without watering with the Waterboxx, hanging from a string trellis.
We will continue to update this post with photo of our growing squash throughout the season.  If you are interested in growing plants with the Waterboxx yourself, you can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.  We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

We would love to hear your comments - please leave one by clicking on the 'comment' link below.

Growing A Giant Pumpkin With Minimal Work With This Exceptionally Designed Bucket

One of the great joys of gardening is growing pumpkins for Halloween.  In Indiana where we are based, our growing season happens to usually end just before October 31, making pumpkins the ideal fall treat.  We were able to grow a regular sized Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin variety last year with the Waterboxx, and we began to wonder if the Waterboxx could be used to grow a giant pumpkin here in a suburban garden.  

The pumpkin seeds at planting in the peat pot in early April 2015

We started by planting a few Big Moon pumpkin seeds in a peak pot in early April.  These were grown until they reached the recommended size (of 4-5 leaves) and were then transplanted outside.  A small mound of potting soil was made in an area of our suburban yard with sufficient sun.  The transplanted pumpkin was then surrounded with the evaporation cover seen below.

The Giant Pumpkin on day of transplanting May 9, 2015.

The Waterboxx was then placed very carefully over the transplanted seedling, with care taken not to damage the stem.  This Waterboxx has 4 wicks to delivery sufficient water to the plant.  If no rain is received (and insufficient dew), this Waterboxx would need to be refilled every 1-4 weeks manually.

The pumpkin has grown considerably by May 19, 2015, when this picture was taken.  No external water has been given to this pumpkin, as all of its water needs are being met by the Waterboxx which is refilled by dew and rain.  

We have been fortunate enough to have squash bees (bright orange bees the same size of a honeybee) in our area, so we hope that we will have many pumpkins from which to choose.  We will of course only keep one pumpkin to get the largest one possible.

The giant pumpkin on June 6, 2015.  This has exploded in its growth, even though we haven't watered or fertilized it once since planting . This Waterboxx has 4 wicks (3 extra), but still has always had water due to dew and rare rain (in this dry spring).  We haven't refilled the Waterboxx once.
The Giant Pumpkin completely covering the Waterboxx on June 12, 2015.  The  Waterboxx can just barely be seen. in the blow up below (you see the white corrugated lid).

A close up view of the above picture - the Waterboxx is still working beneath the pumpkin leaves.
So how much water did we need to give the pumpkin between transplanting outside and the above pictures?  None - not one drop.  Even though this Waterboxx has 4 wicks, there has been enough dew and rain water to keep the Waterboxx more than full.  You can see this if you look carefully (the water is clear), in the image below.

The Waterboxx lid on June 12, 2015.  The Waterboxx is so full from dew and rain water it is overflowing, and the blue circular siphon is covered.  
We are seeing our first pumpkins beginning to form at the base of the female flowers.  We will choose only one pumpkin to remain on the plant in order to get the most growth.

Our chosen giant pumpkin on June 30- we will let this one pumpkin continue to grow while keeping one back up. pumpkin  This way, all the plant's energy will go into this one pumpkin.  We put a wooden pallet beneath to support the pumpkin.

One site recommends 15 to 20 gallons of water per week should be added to the pumpkin at its base - but the Waterboxx holds only four gallons.  How is the pumpkin not dying of thirst?  Well, the Waterboxx prevents almost all evaporation of water from the soil around the pumpkin roots.  Secondly, when the pumpkin transpires water (similar in idea but not mechanism to sweating in animals) from the bottom on its leaves, much of that water is recycled onto the Waterboxx lid and collected by the Waterboxx.

We did add 4 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plant on July 1.

Same pumpkin on July 16.  We haven't added any water to the Waterboxx PlantCocoon® or to the roots of the pumpkin , but the Waterboxx remains full.  We expect the pumpkin to continue growing until at least early October.  

 We will continue to update this post with pictures of the pumpkin plant throughout the growing season. We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon®, a complete list is available here.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments".

Grow Acorn Squash With Minimal Work With This Exceptionally Designed Bucket

Acorn squash is a little known squash that looks somewhat like a gourd, or alternatively like the end of a medieval mace.  For this reason, it is not grown as much as it should be by gardeners.  It is indeed edible and tasty (and only occasional used as a weapon).
Transplanting Acorn Squash May 9, 2015 from a peat pot grown inside.
We wanted to grow acorn squash with the minimal amount of cost and effort possible.  We started some acorn squash seeds inside in a peat pot (saving money, as buying plants is expensive and seeds last for several years in the fridge), and transplanted the plant outside after danger of frost had passed.  We planted it in a little mound surrounded by weed cloth (we cut a hole in the weed cloth under the mound), to prevent grass from interfering with our squash plant.

The device that will take most of the effort out of our growing of the squash, the exceptionally designed bucket, is the Groasis Waterboxx.  This device was designed to grow trees in deserts, but it works so well that it can be used to grow plants in more humid climates while eliminating all watering needs.  It collects dew and rain water, stores it in a 15 liter (~4 gallon) reservoir, and slowly releases it to the roots of the plant through one (or several) wicks.

A cut away view of the Groasis Waterboxx, showing how it would collect rain and dew water with its cream colored lid, funnel it into the green reservoir, and trickle it out to the roots of the growing plant.  

We placed a Waterboxx around our acorn squash and filled the Waterboxx with water.  We then forgot about the squash to tend to other plants in our garden.
Acorn Squash on June 6, 2015 after growing with the Waterboxx for a little under a month.  We haven't watered this plant or filled the Waterboxx once since planting - the Waterboxx refills itself with dew and rain.
Our neglect would have killed most plants due to drought (as it has been a very dry May here in Indiana), but the Waterboxx kept the plant happy and growing.

The Acorn Squash less than two weeks later on June 18, 2015.  The Waterboxx has not been refilled with any water and is still present hidden under the thick leaves.  
 Our acorn squash continued to grow like wildfire with the Waterboxx providing consistent moisture.  Even though the leaves began to cover the Waterboxx lid, the Waterboxx was still able to collect dew and rainwater by collecting run off from the leaves (similar to how the area under a tree eventually gets wet in a rainstorm after the water trickles through the leaves).

An early acorn squash growing at the bottom of a flower on June 18, 2015.  These squashes have been pollinated by bright orange squash bees, a key ally for those of us growing cucurbits or squash like plants.   
Squashes are prolific, and this plant has taken over a raised terraced area around our patio.  No matter, because the first several (about a dozen) acorn squashes are now maturing (as of June 18).  We still haven't added one drop of water manually to the squash, the soil around it, or the Waterboxx since planting.

Our largest acorn squash (of about a dozen currently) on June 30, 2015.  We will have so many squashes produced with our Waterboxx PlantCocoon® that we will have to give them away.  
We did add 3 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plant on July 1.

Acorn squash from planting to fruition in less than 10 weeks with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  No water was given to this plant at any time since planting - all was provided by natural process and the Waterboxx.  
Our season is now over here in mid August - but we harvested 13 large acorn squash in total this growing season.  These will provide us with a tasty treat and will keep for several months.  We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments".

Grow Black Krim Tomatoes Without Watering or Weeding

We received a Black Krim Tomato and a Chinese Five Color Pepper Plant from a friend and decided to plant them in our raised bed garden.  We have had difficulty with full size tomatoes splitting in previous years.  Splitting in tomatoes is usually due to inconsistent watering - lack of water followed by too much water.  Too much water causes the fruit of the tomato to expand faster than its skin, causing the splitting.  Because of this previous splitting, we decided to plant our two gift plants with a device called the Groasis Waterboxx.

A cutaway view of the Groasis Waterboxx.  It channels dew and rainwater using its tan lid, stores this water in the green reservoir, and slowly releases it through the wick to the roots of the growing plant.  

The Groasis Waterboxx was originally designed by a Dutch tulip and lily breeder to grow trees in deforested areas without irrigation.  However, it has been found to work very well for gardening as well.  It collects dew and rain water (and water that the plant releases through transpiration), funnels this water into and stores it in a reservoir, and then slowly releases it to the roots of the growing plant.  It comes with a hole for a single wick, but more can be inserted for more water hungry plants.  We inserted a second wick for our tomato and pepper.

We transplanted the plants into a 2 x 2 foot raised garden plot, and placed the Waterboxx after lightly watering the soil.  We filled the Waterboxx with about 4 gallons of water.

The Black Krim Tomato (left) and Chinese Five Color Pepper (right, not yet visible) on May 28, 2015.  

The Waterboxx provides all needed water to our plants, and will adjust how much water is released based on the dryness of the soil.  If we find the Waterboxx reservoir going dry, we will refill it.  However, the Waterboxx will do a good job, we think, of keeping the soil a consistent moisture.  Also, the Waterboxx will keep the pepper plant cool, important as peppers won't produce in very hot weather.
On June 18, 2015, the Black Krim Tomato (left) has proven to be a prolific grower while the Chinese Five Color Pepper is just visible to the right.  No water has been added to the soil or the Waterboxx since Waterboxx set up May 28.
We did add 2 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plants on July 1.

We haven't added any water to the Waterboxx or watered the plants manually in any way - but they are still growing great.  Our next test for the Waterboxx will be when we have tomatoes growing - if they split it will mean we don't have consistent soil moisture.  We will continue to update this post throughout the growing season with pictures of our Black Krim Tomato and Chinese Five Color Pepper.

We harvest 10 Black Krim Tomatoes from our Waterboxx this year - not bad as none of our neighbors had any tomatoes.

We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

We would love to hear your comments - please leave one by clicking on the 'comment' link below.

Growing Tomatoes in Sacramento County, California

What would happen if you planted a tomato plant in Sacramento County, California in spring 2015, and didn't water it again?  You would soon find that tomato plant a shriveled brown remnant of a plant, because California is going through the worst drought in recorded history.

Sacramento County, shown in dark red, is in exceptional drought.  Source: U.S. Drought Monitor, public domain

 What would happen if you planted a tomato plant in Sacramento County with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon and didn't water it again?  You would find yourself with over 50 tomatoes to eat yourself or to give to your friends and family.

Gardener Tony Palumbo and his family did just that, planted a tomato plant with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon (or Waterboxx for short), filled the Waterboxx with about 4 gallons of water once, and then let the tomato be - with no more watering, and no care except supports as it grew.   The results were astounding.  His tomato grew very quickly, even in hundred degree heat in the middle of an "exceptional" drought.  You can see his results below:

16 weeks' growth of a tomato plant in Folsum, California, planted with the Waterboxx.  This plant received no water after initial planting.  Photos Courtesy of Tony Palumbo
Mr. Palumbo, by the end of 16 weeks of growth, had harvested 14 tomatoes, with 40 more tomatoes growing and new blossoms sprouting up.  The tomato grew so fast that it needed three tomato cages for support by the end of the summer.

The reason a tomato could grow like this, without any continuing water, is because of a new device called the Waterboxx.  The Waterboxx is an intelligent plant incubator, or a self refilling water battery for plants.  It collects condensation (including the water released by plant leaves at night through transpiration) as well as occasional rain on its unique lotus leaf inspired lid, funnels this via siphons into a 15 liter reservoir, and then slowly releases this water to the roots of a growing plant.

A cutaway schematic view of the Waterboxx, showing how condensation and rain would be collected on the tan lid, funneled down the red siphon, stored in the green reservoir, and released via the white wick.  

Because it is able to prevent evaporation of soil moisture beneath it as well as capture moisture released from the plant and that settling from the air, much if not most water is conserved and recycled back into the Waterboxx.  For this reason tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, and many other garden plants (as well as trees) can be planted with the Waterboxx with no continued watering.

Imagine how much more enjoyable gardening would be if you didn't have to water plants several times a week, but instead just had to look in on plants to ensure that the produce was supported and picked as it was ripened.  The Waterboxx is a sea change for gardening.  You can buy the Waterboxx here.

We would love to read your questions or comments below.

Grow Zucchini Without Watering or Weeding

Zucchini is an excellent plant to grow in your garden.  It can provide a large amount of tasty vegetable that can be used very much like pasta throughout the summer.  The main downside of zucchini is the large water requirements of this plant.  This water requirement can be completely alleviated with use of the Groasis Waterboxx.

A cutaway view of the Groasis Waterboxx.  It channels dew and rainwater using its tan lid, stores this water in the green reservoir, and slowly releases it through the wick to the roots of the growing plant.  
With our zucchini, we planted the seeds directly in the ground after danger of frost.  You can also transplant seeds but we have found this difficult (and actually had this fail twice this spring).   While the Waterboxx will supply all the water needs of the zucchini, you want the zucchini to be 6-8 inches in height before placing the Waterboxx.

Two Zucchini plants growing close together on 5/26/15 - before Waterboxx placement
Once the Zucchini had reached about 6 inches in length of its largest leaves, we decided to place the Waterboxx.  We carefully folded up the leaves of the Zucchini to fit through the central Waterboxx opening.  We the filled the Waterboxx with 15 liters (about 4 gallons) of water.  This Waterboxx has one extra wick (for a total of 2), which means we may need to refill it periodically with water.  We will note here if and when we refill the Waterboxx.

Zucchini right after Waterobxx placement, May 30 2015
We of course have not provided any extra water to the Waterboxx growing the zucchini.

Zucchini on June 3, 2015.  The Zucchini is able to grow rapidly because of the consistent water and temperature environment provided to it by the Waterboxx.  
We still haven't provided any water to the zucchini or Waterboxx. We are getting our first flowers and expect Zucchini fruits soon.  We have noted that the Zucchini stalk has grown so large in diameter that it is beginning to no longer fit inside the Waterboxx.  We expect this to grow up out of the Waterboxx central opening, but we may have to prune the Zucchini leaves slightly if this doesn't happen.
The same zucchini plant on June 18, 2015.  No further water has been added to the Zucchini or to the Waterboxx, but the Waterboxx remains full.  
We haven't had to add any water to the Zucchini or Waterboxx.  Our dream of minimal work gardening is coming to fruition.

Our first Zucchini flowers on June 18, 2015.  

We started getting full size Zucchini in late June.  We were happy with how early we could begin harvesting because we did need to plant the zucchini outdoors. We did add 2 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Zucchini on July 1.

A full sized Zucchini in late June.  We haven't watered this plant at all or added any water manually to the Waterboxx, but the Waterboxx remains full.  
5 Weeks growth of our Waterboxx PlantCocoon® Zuxxhini.  We went from a small plant just recently started from seed to our first fruits, only having to water the plant once when we placed the Waterboxx PlantCocoon®.  The Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon® technology can take the painful watering and weeding out of gardening for many plants. 

We have harvested 28 Zucchinis this year (about one every 2 days since late June)!   You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.  We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

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