Thursday, October 29, 2015

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.

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 

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