June 18 • 11:24 AM

Drought not a problem for amateur gardener

Attica man finds solution created in Netherlands

Novice gardener Frits Bax in the flourishing Waterboxx garden he planted when his wife, Jan, turned gardening duties over to him. photo by Catherine Minolli.

August 22, 2018
ATTICA — When Frits Bax learned the garden would be his responsibility this year, he did what a lot of novice gardeners do: search the internet for tips and ideas.

The garden had always been Frits's wife Jan's domain, but this year she decided to give her knees a rest and turn over the reins.

Though he was a little like a fish out of water when it comes to the garden, Frits understood that water is the one thing required for gardening success.

That fact—and his Dutch background—were the reasons the Groasis Waterboxxes caught his eye.

"When she (Jan) said 'you're in charge this year,' I thought I better see what I can do," Frits grins. "When I was browsing the internet the Waterboxxes caught my eye. They're everything they said it would be, and I just love it."

Finding solutions

Groasis describes itself as a "socially active and environmental friendly enterprise," founded in Holland in 2003 by Pieter Hoff.

A lily breeder and exporter/importer of bulbs, Hoff's pursuits of his trade took him around the globe. He noticed that almost all of his clients were using drip irrigation, and were challenged by the declining water table. Other areas were deforested, and thus had more eroded and dry lands.

Concerned, Hoff pondered the water shortages experienced in much of the world coupled with the increasing population.

"Will there be enough water to produce enough food in the future?" he wondered. "How could humans plant trees and produce food while conserving water?"

Soon enough, Hoff created a solution: The Waterboxx plant cocoon. He sold his lily company to devote all of his time to develop the Waterboxxes.

Today, Groasis is working to reforest some two billion hectares of wastelands in an affordable, practical way.

You can find a map of the Groasis reforestation and growing projects across the globe at

Global cause,

local gardening

Back in Attica, Frits decided to give the Waterboxxes a try.

He ordered ten Waterboxxes at $35 each, noting that when accrued over their ten year life-span, the cost isn't as steep as it seems.

Frits Bax with components of Groasis Waterboxx that has made gardening a breeze even in drought conditions. photo by Catherine Minolli.
The instructions were simple—imprint the boxes and level them in the soil; put the cardboard evaporator pad in place, choose plants that are on the tall side and plant up to three per box, adjust the wick (or add depending on number of plants), fill the basin with water, cover with the evaporation shield and

lid, and watch the plants grow.

Frits has done just that since he planted the garden at the beginning of the season. He's growing tomatoes, acorn squash, zucchini, and cucumbers in the Waterboxxes. Though it's been extremely dry, the Waterboxx plants are flourishing.

"I haven't had to

water at all, and I'm amazed at how well the plants are doing," he says. "This is my kind of gardening!"

Along with keeping the plants' roots and surrounding soil moist throughout the growing season, the Waterboxxes are designed to collect dew, which rolls down into the basin. In the event of rain, there's an overflow built into the basin which releases excess water.

Frits says the Waterboxxes have made his inaugural attempt at gardening a pleasant experience, and he's already enjoyed some of the fruits of his not-so-intense labor.

"I'm not a big gardener so I'm very much impressed," he grins. "I'm an amateur gardener and this is my kind of gardening!"

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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