Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ascension Island's Green Mountain Cloud Forest Created by Mist ?

Genesis 2:5-6
"No bush of the field was yet on the earth and no vegetation of the field had begun sprouting, because Jehovah God had not made it rain on the earth and there was no man to cultivate the ground.  But a mist [fog, vapor] would go up from the earth, and it watered the entire surface of the ground."
For the moment, dump all the secular baggage against the above reference and focus here for a change. I'll explain further below at the bottom of this post, but there are large plant ecosystem areas on this Earth which are hydrated by means of fog, vapor, mist as opposed to the normal conventional rainfall from storm systems we all know and relate to. I've written about some of these in the past such as Ascension Island, Canary Islands and even minerotrophic systems such as those that receive no rainfall ever like large Oasis in the Sahara of North Africa which predominantly are hydrated by means of underground springs. Yet the plants within those ecosystems do thrive and replicate themselves. Here is an update on some things about Ascension Island.
 
Photo by Meg Wilkie
The photograph above is of a manmade pond create near the top of Green Mountain on Ascension Island. There are water Lilies and some tiny goldfish in the pond. This pond was constructed near an area ravine which was historically given the name Dampiers Drip. It is kept filled not by normal precipitation such as rain, but rather cloud forest condensation, fog, mist, vapor etc.

image: Ascension-Island Government
On a Remote Island, Lessons In How Ecosystems Function

Lanzarote National Park of Timanfaya

Canary Islands
The Ascension Island is near St Helena in the Southern Atlantic Ocean between Africa and South America. Right west of Angola if that gives some reference for you. The island wasn't always looking like the big green lush photograph you see above. It looked a lot more like on of the volcanic islands of Spain's Canary Islands. When Charles Darwin visited Ascension Island in 1836 on his voyage with the ship Beagle, he declared it to be "naked hideousness". But it was British Botanist Sir Joseph Hooker, who had the bright idea of planting trees on the mountains which would bring more rainfall. His idea or scheme is what the researchers call "Terra Forming."  The raw canvas both these men saw was much like the smaller photo to the right with volcanic rock, lifeless looking soils and very little life other than maybe biological soils crusts. Mostly lichens, mosses, algaes and ferns. No indigenous or introduced & naturalized shrubs or trees anywhere. I wrote an article about another article on Ascension Island which I will reference in a link below of this beautiful green island picture at the top. What appalled me were the critics of Fred Pearce's article on lessons we can learn as far as ecosystem function. You see in Ascension's early history, there were no ponds, springs or streams. There was no real fresh water source anywhere when the British outpost was first set up on the island. There was one small spring, but it was remote and couldn't support any human settlement. Most all water and other supplies had to be brought in by ship. In this time of dire climate change, it was a golden opportunity for scientists and other researchers to come and study plant community mechanisms on what creates cloud formation, moderates weather and causes precipitation. Keep in mind that this island's transformation has taken place in little over 100 + years. However, I kid you not, very few Scientists are interested in studying this transformation and weather mechanism, why ? 

Image: BBC News

Conservation Officer, Stedson Stroud
finding a supposedly extinct Fern
Mostly the vicious criticism came from ideologically driven EcoActivist Groups who freaked out over the Island's non-native invasive plant species which totally fogged the real issue here and that is how to reverse climate change and repair our damaged Earth. There is no argument that invasiveness and a screwed up planet in general can be found everywhere. Numerous things were done many many years ago which we can not do nothing about, but what these people were missing was the climate driving mechanisms of the Acesion Island forest. The other argument was that existing endemic species had disappeared or were going extinct. The photo to the left here is of Green Mountain's Conservation Officer, Stedson Stroud, who found what was insisted upon to be an extinct Fern. The volcanic island prior to human influence was once sterile looking true desert island from a visual point of view other than small plants and biological soil crusts. But it's this artificially introduced vegetation growth that apparently offends many of this  Ideologues for nothing more than blind faith reasons. Once again just to repeat, prior to these introduced plants, the island was mostly a collection of Biological Soil Crusts [bacteria, lichens, mosses, algae, Ferns, etc]. But you cannot communicate anything with these types of people whose view themselves as the only ones qualified as keepers of all knowledge and any understanding on how our Earth works. Their precious hallowed topic (biological diversity) is generally considered their prerogative. Any understanding must first go through them. I once got myself in hot water about a year and a half ago when a person from a desert protection ecology group posted a photograph of their favourite outback Badlands spot at the Anza Borrego Desert. I made an innocent comment about how many people would view such a place as nothing more than a desolate wasteland, but I saw it as having great future potential. I merely meant potential in creating an environment of a healthy viable desert plant community which would further benefit all manner of other desert wildlife. But the commenter was outraged and I was hammered.

In their view, it was perfect as is and any thought of even desert plants, animals and birds thriving there was repugnant. Whatever people!  It wasn't even worth giving a response. Things are not as bad on the Ascension Island as the outraged scientists want us to believe, who would rather the plant life be removed. Seriously, you have to read it to believe it. Actually, I've written Stedson and he has been busy with tough job of keeping under control one of the native plants from the Southwestern United States, Mesquite, which has spread by seed by wild feral Burros. He also has had to keep up with capturing and removing over 500 cats which were killing off the native sea birds and their young on the plains below. So clearly some things need correcting. I wrote to Stedson a message and thanked him for his hard work and to keep it up despite the vicious criticism they received. He responded with this: 
"Thank you kindly for those words above, I sometimes feel let down and used by the very people I have helped and trust. But as a committed conservationist, I keep going, earlier this year I discovered a new algae and a new to science fungi in a sea vent on the South East coast of Ascension."
Of course not all is lost as much of the alarmist fear mongering insisted would happen. Below is a short paragraph from another article about Ascension Island back in December 16, 2010
"Beneath the summit ridge on Green Mountain, on the lawns of a small garden, Mr Stroud nurtures indigenous plants. He discovered one fern only a couple of years ago—a species hidden for centuries. He plants the successes under a huge fig tree on the ridge. When they flourish he takes them further out into what on other islands would be the wild, but here is the artifice, returning occasionally to check up on them and take more seed. While he and his successors are here, those ferns and grasses will be safe from extinction. And a few are taking the initiative themselves. Xiphopteris ascensionis, a tiny endemic fern, had never seen a tree before the Victorian planters came. Now it lives in and on them, nestled in their moist bark, pioneering the epiphytic way of life familiar from ancient forests around the world and discovered afresh in their youngest cousin. Life, with helping hands, adapts."
(Source: BBC)
Below are a couple examples of the Endemic Natives successfully mixing and taking better advantage provided by the non-native invasive plants which have provided further opportunity for them to excel and thrive more so than previously. I know some ideologically driven purists  don't want to hear or see such things, but apparently, to quote their own belief system, "life found a way". First, take a close look at the Mist/Fog Pond near the top of Green Mountain. Near the summit of this Green Mountain  is the Dew Pond which is actually kept filled with water captured from plant foliage from the Mist/Fog that moves across the landscape from the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, constructed in 1875. There are water Lilies and some tiny goldfish in the pond. I believe the pond was constructed near an area ravine which was historically given the name Dampiers Drip.

image: Arkive.org
Fern (Xiphopteris ascensionensis)
The photos above and below are of the interactions between the so-called escaped invasive plants and the endemic mosses and lichens which outraged eco-activists says would all go extinct as a result of the introductory species. But it hasn't worked out that way. No doubt Phenotypic Plasticity and Epigenetic Gene Expression influenced by newer   Environmental Cues allowed these endemic plants to engineer and adapt themselves within a symbiotic relationship on their new host plants.

image: Arkive.org
Fern (Xiphopteris ascensionensis) and Moss
most likely on a Laurel tree branch

Some Further Reading Reference on Ascension Island
On a Remote Island, Lessons In How Ecosystems Function
The Economist: "Another green world"
(2012) Team Member Stedson Stroud – Saving Ascension’s wildlife
Ascension Island - plant restoration
http://www.kew.org/press/images/Anogramma_ascensionis.html

Another interesting paper co-authored by Stedson Stroud of the Conservation Depart. of Georgetown on Ascension Island and David C Catling from the University of Washington
University of Washington, Seattle, Wash: "The Greening of Green Mountain, Ascension Island"
So where does all of this leave us now ? 


The subject of Climate Change is all over the Global News, but what isn't in the News other than short story accounts of Nature successes as Ascension and Canary Islands which give mere token acknowledgement as something of local interest and then shelved away, are those interesting biological mechanisms which make the whole climate thing a success. This subject should be in the main stream news. But it's not, other than the political back biting and positioning one team over another. The questions that are not being asked here are, "What are the mechanisms which make the global climate function, what creates clouds and moderates the weather, how does rainfall and other precipitation really occur and what do plants have to do with that ?" But we don't get such questions. There are plenty of examples like Easter Island where uncontrolled deforestation hurt the population in the end. Other examples of desertification in Africa and the American southwest as the result of plant communities being obliterated for short term profit potential could be helped once again to recovery by researching and further understanding how these mechanisms function. If vegetation removal causes less rain and mega-droughts, shouldn't replanting reverse that ? In the dictionary definition given on "Occult Precipitation", which defined the mist or fog rain phenomena as a form of precipitation which cannot be measured, then just how much of that mystery water have many areas actually lost during this climate shifting ? If most of the measurable rain records show major declines, how much more so of this un-measurable precipitation has been lost if we could actually put a number on it ? Nobody seems interested enough to ask. Clearly, some of these Fog or Mist capturing devises should be transformed into remote weather stations for monitoring in certain areas for measurements of marine layer precipitation.
What about all those Myths, Fables, Storytelling & What in the world is the real Truth ?
Throughout the 20th century, there have been many stories or legends about natural phenomena which were written or spoken about in ancient times by various cultures and peoples who for the most part have been regarded as mere superstitions, myths, fables, etc by today's various intellectual elites. But I have always been really intrigued and curious about what real natural world phenomena they were first hand eye witness observers to and from which they could only explain things based on their limited knowledge of things like science. For example, about a month ago I watched a science documentary about the first discovery of many of the new animals originally found and documented by scientists in Australia when Europeans first colonized. There was debate over whether Duckbilled Platypus actually laid eggs or gave live birth. The Aboriginal natives had told the White Europeans that the Platypus laid eggs, but this was discounted as a fable and myth, because these peoples were illiterate, ignorant, primitive savages and what could they possibly know that a white European scientist couldn't discover and verify. Until that happened, such a thing was ridiculous. As it turned out such official verification and discovery was up to British Scientist William H. Caldwell. Click on this link and read the first short paragraph under introduction. It verifies what the BBC documentary I watched said: 
"The central narrative of this paper is the 'discovery' by British scientist W H Caldwell that monotremes (platypus and echidna) lay eggs. The famous telegram 'monotremes oviparous, ovum meriblastic' (monotremes lay eggs of the same sort as reptiles), sent to the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Canada in 1884, put to rest a debate about whether platypus laid eggs or had live young that had raged throughout the century. The story reveals much about the imperial shaping of scientific knowledge. Observers in Australia and Aboriginal informants, who had asserted that platypus laid eggs, had been disbelieved. 'Discovery' was reserved for Caldwell, a British scientist of impeccable scientific lineage."
(Source)

Another interesting natural phenomena which in the past hasn't receive much press or given much acknowledgement is the incredible phenomena of Mushroom or Truffle formation by mycorrhizal fungi almost not long after Lightning Storm occurrs. The Romans and Greeks both recorded such observations, but these have been condescendingly dismissed by most Scientists as myths or fables if you've tried to research the literature. The accounts have been categorized under what are a part of the Roman and Greek Mythologies. Then of course there are also the Bedouins of the Negev who call these desert truffles ‘the thunder fungus’ and so do other African peoples who search for the Kalahari Desert Truffles after lightning storms. But I've also known of this from personal observation back in the 1980s when I would go out to search for Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizal truffles. Certainly many would appear in Spring, but especially after the Monsoonal Thunderstorm season hit Anza California starting around the first of July. Almost two weeks after the heaviest Thunderstorms hit our area my favourite collection areas would provide a mother-lode of them. They are edible and sometimes they would still be a fresh white colour, but I wanted dried truffles for their spores for inoculation of my plant's rootsystems. So I waited a while for them to age. The main point is, while I always knew the location, I never knew the when until after Lightning Storms. Here is a previous post of mine where I providedreferences giving some legitimacy to what the Experts have labeled myths about truffle formation after lightning storms.
Snap, Crackle & Pop!, Rumor has it that the Lightning gods make the Mushrooms (truffles)
Then of course there are what many would call the biblical creation myths. I get the argument and dislike Secular Scientists have against Christendom, I don't care for many of their beliefs or their  historical atrocious conduct either, but the newer 20th & 21st century enlightenment Free-Thought Gang hasn't exactly managed the world's affairs any better since they usurped the conventional  religious influence over the world's affairs. Pushing that baggage aside for the moment, let's go back and look at the referenced verse 6 of Genesis 2 below and read it.
Genesis 2:6 - Amplified Bible
 "But there went up a mist (fog, vapor) from the land and watered the whole surface of the ground"
This scriptural text has always intrigued me since the early 1960s when it was first read to me. Why ? Because it's odd, it's not normal, sounds crazy and out of touch with today's reality as I understood normal when it comes to hydrology and climate. In other words, I've only understood rainfall coming from an actual storms off oceans, moving over land masses and dumping rain. Still, in view of how other peoples have been treated in the past by so-called intellectuals which were proven wrong, could there really be any shade of truth to this, if only as an observation ? So I asked myself, could this original writer have also been recording information as he actually observed it back several thousand years ago ? Was he recording phenomena occurring as it was normal and common to him thousands of years ago ? Ultimately I really have no idea for sure. But the location where this information was written down was in the Sinai Peninsula which is right next door where moisture is observed hydrating the various ecosystems within those western Saudi Arabia Mountains today next to the Red Sea. Once again I still have no real clue, and it was this puzzle got me interested more and more in just how plants could hydrate an entire community through a mycorrhizal fungal networks under pristine healthy vegetative conditions which would have been more common then in ancient times thousands of years before our planet with it's present 8+ billion humans who have mostly defoliated this Earth. What we can acknowledge is that the present mist or fog precipitation phenomena didn't always occur on Ascension island prior to the introduction of Trees, Shrubs and other plants. But now at present it does occur as a result of the trees and shrubs which took over and created a cloud forest. Also we know now that desertification does indeed occur when vegetation is removed from an environment. Given the fact that far less humans existed at that time period and more healthy vegetative systems were most likely in existence 1000s of years ago than today, it could be reasonable to assume such a common hydrological system was real at one time.

Even Austrian Forester and Physicist Viktor Schauberger (1878-1958) who extensively about water and often tried to describe a phenomena of upwards movement of water within healthy old growth forests by attributing such phenomena to some sort of mysterious energy, had the prevailing scientific community of critics who thought he was a crackpot. How could he possibly have ever known what we do today about old growth forests incredible ability at Hydraulic Lift and redistribution ? But he did however make observations of pure clean water springs and brooks disappearing after old growth forest trees were cut down. He attributed it to the sun having a negative effect of draining power away from the naturally occurring energized water as he called it. Today however we know far more than he did and yet he was correct that such a phenomena did indeed exist. We do know about hydraulic lift and redistribution. We do known the phenomena of a soil's capillerary action with both upwards and downward movement of water. The main problem with today's intellectual movement is that they will automatically discount such phenomena for no other reasons than they hate who the messengers might be. That's irresponsible, but clearly throughout time, this has historical precedent. How many important discoveries have been stifled because of condescending arrogance by the ruling elite Orthodoxies in our world ? At least for the people who know me and what I am talking about, this phenomena and other intriguing complex networked functions which move and sustain ecosystems, this gives hope and promise that based on many of these facts, that the earth can be biologically repaired and made a more sustainable place in which to reside. The only thing that stands in the way is proper leadership around the globe. This doesn't let the whole of Christendom off the hook either for their refusal to deny climate change because they involve themselves within a certain specific segment of rightwing politics which is opposed to leftwing secularism:
Matthew 24:37-39 - A warning message of 'Climate Change' & the consequences of "Apathy" ?
Still, for the moment, people can still decide what to believe and make practical application where important. Take special note of something I wrote about yesterday which can speed up the process.
Groasis Waterboxx: Desert Greening, Root Infrastructure Development, Water Savings, Teaching Kids Nature, etc, etc, etc




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Groasis Waterboxx: Desert Greening, Root Infrastructure Development, Water Savings, Teaching Kids Nature, etc, etc, etc

The Groasis-Waterboxx is a device designed to help grow trees in dry areas. It was invented and developed by Dutch former flower exporter Pieter Hoff, and who won the Popular Science Green Tech Best of What's New Innovation of the year award for 2010.

image - NotCot

Plants on Life-Support
I've never used these Groasis Waterboxx products, but more and more I'm intrigued as I've stumbled across videos, articles and testimonials as to their effectiveness in dryland plant establishment. While the advent of drip irrigation brought hope for saving massive amounts of water and preventing  waste, my dislike for drip systems as a dominant solution practiced by most all professionals came from having the primary responsibility of the maintenance of the system as a landscape supervisor. The various emitter heads easily clogged as a result of the SoCal municipal water loaded with chlorine and it's high mineral content. Not to mention insect intrusion and wildlife desperately chewing and biting the plastic lines in search of a drink. Also,  I've found that many plants become too much dependent on dripsystems and would not mature unless weaned off early and gradually. Many commercial and homeowner urban landscapes have had plants on drip systems for for so many years that basically they are on a life-support system. Disconnect and they do not have the underground infrastructure to survive without it. So training plants as opposed to making them technology dependent interested me more and more. The other drawback with dripsystem maintenance is that the water is always present on the surface which creates damp opportunities for weed seeds to germinate. Mulch helps, but I always wanted to encourage my plants to develop deeper rootsystems into subterranean layers of the earth. This ensures better survival rates, plant vigor and health during the hotter months of the year. Here is what the device looks like.

Image - Goasis-Waterboxx
From the description at the groasis.com website, the waterboxx is quite simply a round device made from polypropylene. The device has a diameter of 20”and is 10” high – about the size of a car tire. The waterboxx holds 16 liters (4 gallons) of water and 75mm (3 inches) of rain is sufficient to fill it 100%. And believe it or not, one box filled with water is enough for an entire year. The waterboxx cocoon is designed to capture both rainwater and dew condensation, which collects in the chamber underneath the cover, and the internal mechanisms prevents the water from evaporating. The cover also helps produce condensation and captures the water by a process of physics. You can plant one or two plants/seeds in the open center pipe sleave in the soil. The water enters the box through the two openings and also the cap can be used to refill if necessary. They have designed optional wind protectors which can be attached if you have an area with strong winds. 

Notice the illustration below of those two pipes which function as a type of siphon and at the same time prevents water in the box from evaporating. There are one or two wicks inside the container on the bottom which then externally tap into the ground beneath the box and drips a small amount of water to the plant daily. After about a year the plants roots should have grown deep enough to reach a subsoil water source on its own (perhaps several feet or meters below ground) you can then remove the box and the plant should thrive on its own. You can reuse the waterboxx multiple times, but the wick must be replaced. 
Image - Groasis.com

This concept biomimics nature in that it forces plant roots to penetrate deeper into the subsoil layers as you can see in the illustration below. Water's movement is dictated by the downward pull of gravity and very little will move horizonally if the soil conditions are right. Even in rocky soils, the water will find the easiest way of penetrating downwards through cracks for which roots will follow. Interestly, some good scientific research has discovered that plant roots actually have a sensory system which will detect the presence of misture, then track water and growing in that direction. Researchers discovered this and published studies back in 2014. They also discovered that providing synthetic fertilizers at planting time in the hole (common science-based planting recommendations practiced by conventional commercial industries) hindered the ability of the plant to develop proper rooting structure. When you find time, follow this link below the illustration here:




Water provides a Hydropatterning Blueprint for Rooting Architecture & "Infrastructure"

The concept of this Groasis Waterboxx is to biomimic Nature, which doesn´t plant trees and shrubs, but rather but sows seed, by means of birds and animals, on top of the soil. Their manure functions as a type pf protective cover so that a capillary column (humidity column) can develop inside the soil. The seed germinates, develops its root in the capillary column and once water is found deeper in the soil, the leaves will develop and evaporation and photosynthesis can start. The problem is not growing trees on rocky soils or in sandy deserts, but planting and germinating and then bringing the tree through the planting period until it has grown enough to get water from the soil's capillary pore structure on its own. This is the what & how the Groasis Waterboxx apparently solves with these problems.


Image - Kevin Franck
You need to understand though what Peter Hoff is talking about when he often references capillary pore structure of soils. Interestingly I experimented with an easy to understand capillary action with an old fashioned traditional glass jar and papertowel project (often used in elementary schools) and a seed from a Catsclaw Acacia (Acacia greggii). The capillary action allowed water to travel upwards through the fibers of the papertowel which lined the outer edges of the glass jar with a couple of inches of water on the bottom of this tall jar. Much like the one I did with several different desert seeds to the right here in 2013. In my 1970s experiment, the Acacia seed germinated and for a couple of weeks, a single white taproot immerged and grew straight downwards. At the bottom of the jar the root spun around the glass bottom several revolutions until finally it triggered top growth of a couple of leaves stems. Aside from the physics involved, the plant clearly had encoded programming instructing the roots to grow furiously fast to reach deeper layers of soil prior to sprouting the leaves. This encoded strategy within the plant's DNA no doubt insured the plant's survival in an otherwise inhospitable desert habitat. So again, the logic behind the waterboxx is to “copy” or replicate what Nature does with a seed when it develops its roots before the actual plant starts to grow above the ground by providing itself with water before the water begins to evaporate. When using the Groasis Waterboxx, the same principle applies here if planting a plant instead of a seed. It is therefore imperative that the tree must be as small as possible. The waterboxx does not disturb the soil and therefore maintains the existing capillary pore structure in the soil.



Recommended Seedling container size & notice
the Mycorrhizal Fungi ?

In all soil there is capillary water action happening, but as soon as the sun rises & shines on the soil the capillary dries up, the Groasis Waterboxx prevents this. Every place on earth has some rain season, even the middle of the Sahara, Sonoran, Mojave, Kalahari, Gobi deserts, etc, where the rain falls and evaporates within days and that is all the rainfall most of these places will receive for a very long time. Therefore the problem is not a lack of water but the rapid capture, storage and slow distribution of water over a period of time to the plants. The waterboxx captures this rainwater and distributes it via an ingenious stand-alone system which also  involves condensation. During the night the temperature of the surface drops lower than the surrounding air due to radiation. Due to the temperature difference between the surface of the waterboxx and the air, the air surrounding the waterboxx is cooled below the dew point and the air condenses at the surface of the waterboxx, forming droplets. The waterboxx’s design not only collects dew but enhances the generation of condensation on a daily basis. This water produced is produced and collected by means of physics is then utilized in small daily dosages throughout the year. To avoid evaporation, the waterboxx cover encloses the tree, therefore neither the capillary nor the distributed water dry out.  The buffer in the Groasis Waterboxx functions as an equalizer of the soil. It avoids extreme temperatures and stimulates the root growth. Here is a video they have created to explain how the system works in replication of nature.
(Word of caution. I'm not a fan of the music they use, so turn the volume low on youtube. I would have preferred a narrator. However it's still educational with the text provided)

Recommended Planting Techniques
Image: Ziska Childs
The beauty of using this Groasis Waterboxx is that they encourage and advise starting with seeds, young vegetables, flowering plants, and young trees. The one of the things I love about their recommendation as far as size is something I have always practiced and advised. Use only one gallon or less. However their advice is not one gallon plants which may still have some root spinning in the container, but rather plants grown in elongated tubes with very young seedlings as shown in the photo at the left in the five gallon bucket. Or you can plant a seed such as emerging seedling germination as seen below with it's tap root at about a quarter inch long. But notice also the young plant in the second photo below the two oak acorns. This would be incredibly effective with bareroot planting projects for forest restorations. 




Images - Groasis.com
When it comes to traditional Forestry or Timber company restoration projects, massive amounts of trees are planted with the expectation that a large percentage with not make it leaving only the lucky few. With such a system as this you could increase survival rates close to 100%. The little chart figure below is desert survival when using their Waterboxx and not using their waterboxx. Think of how high the survival rates would be in chaparral or forest ecosystems if habitat restoration techniques employed this product.

Image - Groasis.com
For best results, they recommend that your plants selected plants should be native to the area you are planting. To make the right choice before planting, you would need to look around the area and take note of the oldest species that are thriving. These are the species that should be planted in the area. Once the species are chosen the planting process would be simple. If you use a capillary drill like the one recommended by Goasis, clean the top layer of the soil by cutting away the weeds, but they insist you not get into the soil or pull the weeds – in other words you don’t want to destroy the natural capillary structure of the soil pores. Dig the small planting hole, approximately 5 inches (10 cm) deep and 4 inches (8 cm) wide. Then put the seedling or sapling with the tree’s roots in the hole and fill the rest with potting soil while pushing towards the roots. Pour a few liters of water through the open center of the Groasis Waterboxx, and ensure the tree and its root make good contact with the soil. Now you can place the Groasis Waterboxx on top of it without its top, place stones in the Groasis Waterboxx to prevent it from being blown away. Continue to add water until it overflows and then place the top on the waterboxx and carefully close it to avoid unnecessary evaporation. Add the two tubes in the top openings and add some extra water on top which will go into the open center of the waterboxx allowing for the soil under the box to remain humid.
Plant instructions for the Groasis Technology
Incorporating Mycorrhizal Fungi and NO FERTILIZER (Synthetic or Organic) at time of outplanting is imperative  (My Own Opinion)

As many here reading this blog know, I am adamantly pro-mycorrhizal and almost zero fertilizers. Mt preferred brand in the United States is Mycorrhizal Application Inc's products under the MycoApply label. Interestingly, on my last visit I contacted PHC's distributor, Lebanon Turf , for all Plant Health Care Inc's products which I used in the past, but they informed me last month when visiting my mother in California that the State did not allow their products inside of California. I was actually looking to test their PHC Tree Saver product (which is mostly P.T. Mycorrhizal spores), but it never happened. No matter, the MycorrApply works great. I'm sure Europe has a collection of good brands available here. Below is a good video example on how dedicated the Groasis folks are to the strict use of mycorrhizal fungi. Below that I've provided a link to their entire mycorrhizal advice and testomonials Library:

Without listing all the videos on using Mycorrhizal Fungi along with the Groasis-Waterboxx, here is one of their Youtube accounts called Groasis Vegetables which contains the entire series of tutortorials of incorporating fungi & beneficial bacteria with the plants
Groasis Vegetables & Mycorrhizae - Video Library
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Is it possible to use one gallon container Shrubs/Trees with the Groasis Waterboxx Cocoon ??? 
Most certainly, but you'll have to do a bit of plant root pruning prep to make sure the tree or shrub will form a proper deep rooting infrastructure which is ultimately the goal here. This video below is an excellent ilustration of what to do with container nursery grown plants prior to planting where the root system has a spin around problem. I've used this technique without using the Groasis Waterboxx for decades now and it does not hurt the plant. It simply encourages resprouting  in a downwards movement as you will see with a Mango tree where after 20 days has put on straight downwards growing roots 80 inches deep into the subsoil. Wonderful testomonial video on just how quickly and deeply the root systems are encouraged to grow.


Some Reading References on Perfect Root Infrastructure
How to create the perfect tree: We teach you how to repair destroyed primary roots 
Groasis Waterboxx Removal after one Year
After about one year the plant primary roots should have grown deep enough to reach the underground water and have become strong enough to survive without the help of the waterboxx. This stage becomes evident when the trees exhibit a strong growth phase. When this happens, the polypropylene waterboxx can be removed and used for a new planting. The claim by Groasis is that the polypropylene waterboxx can be reused 15 to 20 more times. This lessens the cost of the box over time. If you haved used model that has a double opening for two or three plants, and more than one plant has suvived, this is also the time to cut the weakest of the plants and leave the strongest one to grow. Below is one of two Groasis Biodegradable Plant Cocoons. The one below is for "Orchard and Garden" while the other which you'll see in a link I'll provide below of both is to be used in remote outplanting projects like "Reforestation and Habitat Restoration" projects. 


Image - Groasis Waterboxx
Introduction of the Growboxx plantcocoon®
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some Groasis Waterboxx Success Stories & their are hundreds, but here are just a few

Image - Groasis-Waterboxx

Sequoia gigantea (Sierra Redwood)
DewHarvest: Sequoia Progress in Indiana with the Groasis Waterboxx

Image - Groasis Waterboxx
This is an Anti-Desertification Project in Kuwait where the plants on the left were drip irrigation and on the right grown with the Groasis Waterboxx Cocoons
http://www.kuwait-oasis.com/Groasis-technology
Coachella Valley Habitat Restroation Projects and teaching School kids
Image - Groasis.com
Desert Springs Middle School Pipe Canyon Project
Raymond Cree Middle School - Whitewater Restoration Project
Desert HotSprings High School - Dos Palmas Oasis Project
Palm Springs High School - Whitewater Land Reserve
San Isidro Ski Resort in Spain
This video below shows the plantation of trees in rocks. The plantation is in San Isidro ski resort Spain. The planting is above the tree line. The tree line in San Isidro is at 1,800 meters (6000 feet). In winter there is one to two meters of snow on Waterboxxes and their the saplings. The Groasis Waterboxx protects them well. Over 90% of the trees survive. The other kool things is that both mycorrhizal inoculation and companion planting of different trees and shrubs is discussed. The idea is to increase protection from avalanche potential.


The nasty rugged terrain and soil conditions remains me of many of the regions I come from in the San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs California.
Image - Groasis.com

Image - Groasis.com

Image - Groasis.com
There are lots more things to talk and discuss, but the website is a treasure trove of many other ideas, techniques and successful restoration programs going on around the globe. Click on their website and learn more. I merely tried putting things in logical order and touched on some scientific research here and there which back up some of the ideas they have which even they may not be aware of. Just one more word on subterranean water and plant's preference for this type of water. I've written about this before because of my fascination with hydrological minerotrophic systems. Todd Dawson has spent massive amounts of time research hydraulic lift and redistribution. Here is a link to a post I did and research he did on findings of streamside trees hydrating themselves from deep subsoil layers as opposed to surface waters.
Todd Dawson's Lab - Streamside Trees that do not utilize Streamside Surface Water
Recent Related posts I've published this week associated with Groasis Technology, Companion Planting, Mycorrhizal Fungi, and Habitat Restoration in remote locations
Positive Interactions and Mutual Dependence between two Desert Plants
How to Biomimic Nature's Companion Planting & the Reasons You Should
Is it safe to plant & water California Natives Plants in Summer ?
Some Further Important & Interesting Research References

Researchgate Report: the Groasis waterboxx © - La Primavera Agricultural Cooperative - Italy
Groasis Waterboxx Main Youtube page
Groasis Vegetables & Mycorrhizae - Video Library



Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Biomimic Nature's Companion Planting & the Reasons You Should


For those keenly aware of their surroundings when you're out walking in Nature, you will always find that companion planting is very common. That's what makes various ecosystems everywhere so very unique and successful. Humans now are finding this out as they reverse engineer many of these systems through mistakes introduced by previous bad science which has allowed invasive plants to disrupt these systems. This has happened on every single continent on this planet. The early Native Americans knew the value of companion planting when they created farming systems known as "The three Sisters Farming" no doubt from their observations of how things worked well together in the natural world. In theory, the three sisters crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. But again, this pattern is an unmistakable part of Nature found repeatedly over and over for 10s of 1000s of years. So what happened ?

CaliforniaChaparral.org
A California Biologists Perspective - Bert Wilson
"Permaculture, Agroforestry, and Agroecology. These words have many characteristics in common, in terms of agriculture. The concepts from permaculture (permanent agriculture), agroforestry (growing tree crops and vine, field crops together), agroecology (study of agriculture using the basic ideas of ecosystems) are all interrelated. If you think about it, each of these systems is moving agriculture (growing living organisms for the benefit of man) closer to the natural world. The missing component is the integration of wildland plants into the mix. Every time you remove wild habitat, the agriculture suffers in that area; maybe in small ways, but small ways add up to big ways. For example, researchers have found that having strips, or areas of wild plants adjacent to, or growing within field and orchard crop areas support native pollinators such as bees and flies that help to increase pollination of the crops and so increase crop yields."
"Wild plants may support some of the predators and parasites that prey on your agricultural crop pests, and add stability to the immediate habitat, by redundancy. The cultivation of agricultural plants has, by definition, probably net negative impacts on an ecosystem (the practice of agriculture removes soil nutrition from an area, and decreases biological diversity, from microscopic soil organisms to large mammals). Incorporating indigenous plants adjacent to agricultural plantings supports more variety of beneficial organisms, and increases biological diversity, and can add nutrition to the site. Then, if one plant or animal fails one year, there are others to perform that function temporarily. So the 'plant-animal community' of cultivated plants, naturalized and indigenous plants and animals small and large, and other organisms, can recover from adversity more quickly, and reduce adversity's effects. Another analogy is that this plant-animal grouping is like a giant web; if one strand of the web fails, there are other strands to hold the web together. The more interlinking strands, the stronger the web. Also, in terms of humankind, there may be some species, even though we don't realize it now, that could help us to survive in the future. So it is to our advantage to save all the natural habitat that we can. One way is to integrate wild plants into the edges of our gardens, fields, and orchards. Instead of just mimicking nature, how about including nature?"
(Source)

Image - laspilitas.com
This is Bert Wilson of "Las Pilitas California Native Plants Nursery" who for many years just didn't grow plants for sale, but spent countless hours studying, documenting and educating others on the biological mechanisms in which various plant ecosystems function and operate. While other sites selling native plants have also done this, none come close to the scale with which Bert Wilson attempted to help his customers understand the underground mycrobiological interface which makes the successful whole plant ecosystems in pristine states appear to be so healthy and successful. Interestingly, from my own conversations with him on the telephone in the past, he said some eco-activist organizations were disappointed he didn't take a more active political role in furthering the cause for ecology. Actually he did do this through indepth ecosystem education far beyond anything many of these groups have ever accomplished through their civil disobendience inspired protests and filing a plethora of lawsuits. Bert's writings of the basic fundamentals and principles of how plant systems work are further enhanced with what the Groasis-waterboxx attempts to accelerate in these natural processes as opposed to handicapping them as the conventional science-based practices have done for decades. My main post on the Groasis Company is below.
Mainpost on Groasis Waterboxx Technolgy and it's incredible potential
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This is what happens when science-based practices are shackled to Corporate Business Interests 
For the past 100+ years, human technological innovation has  attempted to harness nature in making what the industry leaders decades ago have always viewed as improving Nature's flaws. 


Image - Utah Wildlife
Of course the theory behind site preparation and grinding up all vegetation into a mulch by a giant Balldozer pulling a roller is that this will (in their imagination) ensure no competition and the resulting nutrients feeding the trees. In actuality they've just eliminated the very mechanisms which would have helped the tree seedling/saplings survival
D-9 Bulldozer site preparation
Same misplaced theory for deep ripping the soil in site preparation. Ensure that no chaparral lignotubers and roots are left to resprout and compete with their precious plantation trees. 
D-9 Bulldozers ripping baparral with anchor chain
Old time outdated irresponsible method for site preparation. Even still, many a practices today are deeply entrenched in the mind of those employed with the Industrial Forestry business model.

Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired)
This scene above looks almost exactly like Garner Valley in the San Jacinto Mountains where I once lived for 20+ years. They actually disked this Jeffrey Pine forest floor like this periodically. However this photo is in actually what the US Forest Service calls a scarification program which was done by disking to expose bear mineral soil, as in this ponderosa pine stand in the Pike National Forest of Colorado. Their theory was that establishing newer trees needed site preparation by mechanical seed bed preparation and competition control which they felt was necessary to establish the new pine seedlings. Garner Valley has had numerous such projects done exactly the way you see above. The process ultimately was chaparral cutting, disking, then mulching and smoothing of the ground. Pines were then planted and had to be maintain by hand watering the first couple years by Forest Service personel using an old time farm caterpillar pulling what is known as a Water Buffalo Trailer which were military surplus items provided such government agencies after World War II for their conservation work. Throughout the 1980s, I drove past numerous tree planting projects by the U.S. Forest Service along Hwy 74 through Garner Valley and watch them rip up the landscape of all chaparral, disk & mulch organic material left over and smooth out the surface in preparation of tree planting. After planting for the next two years they used an old Ford Tractor or WWII Farm Caterpillar to pull one of these Water Buffalo Trailers and hydrate the pine seedlings by hand over countless acreas.

Image - publicsurplus.com

Old time Army Water Buffalo Trailer
The Chaparral Institute has done an incredible job of documenting many of these irresponsible outdated practices as used by the U.S. forest Service and Timber Industries whose goal is servicing the land as a monocropped agricultural program. It doesn't matter if their justification claims to be science-based. People are going to have to stop using the term Science in the general sense and understand that many will misuse and abuse that term in justifying a commercial business model. Take note of the terrible aftermath of the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County California and the attempts to reforest Cuyamaca State Park which lost most of it's forests in the video below. Notice the ignorance displayed in attempts at obliterating all chaparral believed to be a major invasive competitor of forest tree re-establishment. 

Chaparral Institute: Loss in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
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How the Groasis-Waterboxx can rapidly speed up the process of companion planting
Image - Goasis.com

Oregon State University
The ultimate goal of Pieter Hoff's Groasis-Waterboxx as represented in the animation above is to help facillitate long downward growing rootsystems which will hit subterranean moisture which will provide assured survival success. This is highlighted in the photo at right of a large main taproot of a Western Juniper in eastern Oregon. Create that type of root  infrastructure and you're home free. However, the planting of an additional companion nurse plant will also further the successful survival rate along with other shared nutritional requirements and health benefits further enhanced by the mycorrhizal fungi interface happening between differing plant species. The benefits of utilizing chaparral plants, especially those with incredible lignotuber developing abilities is that they have multiple taproots which drive and spiral downwards deep into the earth. This is why I have often photographed many examples of erosion exposed rootsystems on my own treks for the purpose of illustrating their capabilities. Pieter Hoff's website also has several pages also provide photos of rootsout in the wild dedicated for this same illustrative purpose. For example, this lugnotuber of a plant common to the southwest, Algerita or Mexican Barberry.

by Bob Harms - University of Texas

Mexican Barberry (Algerita) Berberis trifoliolata (Mahonia)

Lignotuber: "A rounded woody growth at or below ground level on some shrubs and trees that grow in areas subject to fire or drought, containing a mass of buds and food reserves."

Nobody ever considers the underground rooting network infrastructure and the successes this creates if grown correctly and they should. Especially where I come from where climate change made worse drought conditions are making it more and more impossible to maintain a healthy good looking urban landscape. People everywhere in dryland regions should seriously start looking for shrubs which would make the best Nurse plant companions to trees they wish to plant. And good looking native ornamentals should be researched first before considering some long time traditional retail nursery alternative.

Image - Groasis.com
You'll notice the design of the Groasis Waterboxx Cocoon actually allows for two plants to be inserted, not just one. In their videos they provide examples of how well this works in the commercial greenhouse and shadehouse vegetable operations where this type of association is desirable. But also in some examples, they show outplanting at remote locations where they have deliberately planted two differing plant species to compliment each other. As the example above which shows Mountain Ash on the left and perhaps a type of Mulberry on the right. 

The Green Deserts' research project in Spain
Image - Goasis.com



Image - Goasis.com (Biodegradable Goasis Cocoon)


Okay yes, size does matter
The concept of planting two companion plants together in replication of what actually goes down in Nature all the time for the past 10s of 1000s of years is not only good common sense, but also thrilling. Think of the possibilities of doing your own experiment and jotting down all the data and making comparisons to the conventional recommendations by the so-called experts using dogmatic science-based conjecture ? Think of how you can instill appreciation and teach your own kids if you have them on how nature actually works. Seriously, they'll never get this from the textbooks at public school. However to get the full benefits, you first need to de-program yourself from conventional  teachings. Realize the "Survival of the Fittest" is now a dead concept. Mutualism rules. Take a closer look at our planet and what this blind faith doctrine has done to overall ecosystem health over the past 100+ years. Look where we are now with climate change. Next, stop being impatient when it comes to planning your urban landscape design. I understand everyone wants instant landscape installation. Hence you've purchased in the past five, fifteen or 20 gallon trees or box container larger specimens. Purchase very  small trees & shrubs which will far out perform any five gallon container or burlap tree or shrub. Ignore those large specimens at the nursery. Forget the 6' tall burlap examples like the illustration below. They will NEVER develop a proper deep rooted infrastructure that the devices from grosasis-waterboxx cocoon will encourage to develop. My only regret in writing this is that I'll never be able to test this in a drylands type climate. For me this patented product came too late. For me I would have loved this device back in the 1980s when I was more heavily involved with looking for the basic fundamentals and principles in how whole plant ecosystems work in cooperation with each other. This is the type of thing that should be taught in elementary schools and fortunately it is being taught and practiced down in Palm Springs, California on some of their desert projects.
Reforestation Groasis waterboxx desert planting experiment with Palm Springs School District


Image - familthandyman.com
When planning your urban landscape you need to think smart. Everyone wants instant landscape, but at what cost ? The tall tree in the burlap wrapping as the above example should always be rejected in favour of something which will out perform it on the road to life with far less maintenance and care. Also there is less danger of large trees with spiraled girdling root systems which will easily blow over in wind storms.
The Native California Plants used in three different habitat restoration experiments
Whitewater (High Desert), Mission Springs (Low Desert), Dos Palmas (Salton Sea), in Southern California
Honey Mesquite -- Prosopis glandulosa 
Screwbean Mesquite -- Prosopis pubescens 
Blue Paloverde -- Parkinsonia florida 
Sugarbush – Rhus ovata 
Velvet Ash – Fraxinus velutina 
California Sycamore – Platanus racemosa 
Holly Leaf Cherry - Prunus ilicifolia 
Wishbone Bush - Mirabilis bigelovii 
Cheesebush - Hymenoclea salsola 
Paperbag Bush - Salazaria mexicana 
Beargrass - Nolina parryi 
Joshua Tree - Yucca brevifolia 
Apricot Mallow - Sphaeralcea ambigua 
 Groasis: You can also cooperate in your own Groasis Tesform Experiment
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Gallery of successful plant companions, both for natural biomimetic replication in urban landscaping or habitat restoration
Image - Kevin Franck (2013)

Jeffrey & Coulter Pines planted in among Redshank,
Sugarbush, Scrub Oak, Chamise Chaparral plant community
back in 1983 in Anza Ca, (Terwilliger area)


Image - Kevin Franck (El Cajon, CA 2013)

Torrey Pine & Laurel Sumac
 
 Rattlesnake Mountain - El Cajon, California


Image - Kevin Franck 

Cuyamaca Cypress in Chaparral Community

(Adenostoma, Quercus, Cercocarpus)


Image by Game Warden Bill Bish

Indian Paint Brush with Artemesia-Sagebrush
An Icon of the Old West, Sagebrush (Atermisia tridentata) is Still Demonized as a Competing Invasive in it's Own Native Habitat


Image - Tarelton State University

Antelope Bitterbrush & Pine Tree


Image - María Florencia Urretavizcaya, Guillermo E. Defossé

 Austrocedrus chilensis (Chile - Argentina)


Image by J. Deacon - University of Edinburgh

Oagan Pipe Cactus in Palo Verde

Image - National Park Service
Saguaro National Monument




The Sonoran Desert studies on companion trees and nurse plants are beautiful examples of how Nurse Plants work and operate in real time. The interesting phenomena of Hydraulic Lift & Redistribution are also points to consider when planning any type of project whether urban landscaping or habitat restoration. And let's not forget the winter dormancy phenomena of hydraulic descent where rainy season moisture is pumped deep into the earth's subsoil layers in recharging subterranean moisture reserves. The goal here is not only immediate and long term survival success, but also the elimination of time wasting and expensive hands on on maintenance. Even in human societies, giving someone a hand up towards sustainable independence is far better than continued welfare hand outs which keeps people on lifesupport. 

Hydraulic Descent An Ecosystem's Tool for Filling Vast Underground Reservoirs

Roots: 'Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution'

There is incredible potential for reversing the damage humans have done to the Earth using such a technology as Groasis Waterboxx. But only human leadership (Politics, Scientists, Religion, Corporations, etc) stands in the way.  The average person follows leadership /good or bad). Radical change in this world's leadership is imperative. 


Credit:  Arizona Geologist Wayne Ranne

Jodhpor India, Acacia & Prosopis trees can
 stabilize Sand Dunes and Badlands
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Other Valuable Resources for Urban Landscape Companion Planting & Research Studies
https://www.groasis.com/en 
LasPilitas.com - Native Plant Communities and Companion Plantings
LasPilitas.com - Easy Companion Planting & Important Things to Know
Lavandula species as accompanying plants in Cupressus replanting strategies: Effect on plant growth, mycorrhizal soil infectivity and soil microbial catabolic diversity
Effects of nurse shrubs and tree shelters on the survival and growth of two Austrocedrus chilensis seedling types in a forest restoration trial in semiarid Patagonia, Argentina