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


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