Mikhail Mulbasicov

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since Jul 24, 2019
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Recent posts by Mikhail Mulbasicov

To be clear, you mention growing food for local community.  

Your restaurant is up there? or is the plan to move up there?

I think I've eaten at your place if its the one on Broadway in Tempe.
5 days ago
my two cents as an arizona native....

IMO, anything you do to improve the mesquite's situation ...  the mesquite will take advantage and out compete anything (in way of another sizeable tree) underneath or nearby its canopy.

1 week ago

lolz ...not even worth posting really, but the irony here ....

I had a couple of moringa seedlings left over, since the new gopher cages-and-ground-baskets seem to be working....I decided to go out and just try two more.
Saturday I hogged out the center holes, and did presoak.  (this was during a dust storm by the way) .... let drain down.
Sunday I backfilled, mixed in some compost, and presoaked that material ....left site to let it drain down/stabilize.

I go out today with the intent to plant and install the waterboxxes.  
Nope, it rained earlier in the morning, too muddy in the holes !!!  yea!

The irony part is that I dropped my cell phone earlier this morning and the screen broke; couldn't film anything.
First damn time its rained since March ! (well, more than just one day when 'Trace' was recorded at the local airport).
Today, it probably only rained a tenth of of an inch....but I think that all came in a short burst.
(NOTE: I should leave an impromptu rain gauge out there)

One or two of the (unused yet) Water-Lenz had teeny-tiny ponds in centers.
These holes were full of fluff/dust/poof dirt prior to this.  It's clearly going to work.

Another interesting observation, is most of the lenz surface, say from say radius-point 3' out to the edge, is visibly drier....
....much lighter in color, and absolutely NO mud will stick to your boots as compared to the surrounding flat ground.
The center is obviously wet and muddy; but I thought the contrast with the rest of the site (which is ~0.05% slope) was interesting.

All that said, the two new holes I prepared are way too mushy to set up the box.
So ineffective trip.

I checked the other (5) mesquites/waterboxxes:
A couple of the waterboxxes actually cleared the dust/mud that was building up around the refill ports.
Dirt was just starting building up from the previous dust storm.
They are pretty much full of water now.... (its only been a couple of weeks since first topped off).

I wish I had my phone/camera to document.  Just Damn.


The other crappy part about the phone blowing up.   I had some good footage of the dust storm.  
And the next morning I arrived right at dawn, the low sun angle and long ahadows really shows the shape of the WaterLenz.
I lost all that I think ....


11-11-2020  PM

I planted two more moringa trees in the evening.  lolz ran out of daylight; did it under headlights.

Only reason posting this is: after I was done, I went over to the last three Lenz that I have never done anything with.
Previously, the center holes were full of pure ground up completely dry poof-dust-clay-silt.  
Now, prodding around them that night with a shovel, the ground/clay is now wet and heavy with moisture.
I checked the closest weather station that posts their data online ... it was 0.1".
3 weeks ago
Checked on things,  all of the mesquites are still there.  Some show growth.
Gophers appeared repelled.
One Lenz has two new/fresh gopher holes around the protective screens.
Waterboxx levels have maybe dropped a 1/4" (or less) over the last 2 weeks.
3 weeks ago
I guess this will be my thread for my Desert Tree project.....

Site#1 - Sonoran Desert, USA.
- is around 33N latitude.  
- about 1100' above sea level.
- around 9" of rain per year, most of which hits in the late summer.
- hot, highs are 105-115 F + in the summer.
- lows in winter are 30 to 50 degrees.  Freezing is very rare.
- property is almost perfectly flat, there is slope, but almost imperceptible.
- water table used to shallower in the 1950's, maybe 70-120' (lolz at "shallow").  Now its 500-600'+ due to over pumping.
- the property is in a small flood plane or sorts, but it takes LARGE storm events to flood (a few inches).
- soil is primarily a silty clay.  The top 3" stays soft, below that, its dry and hard.
- little vegetation, there a few scattered mesquites, some kind of small sage bushes/salt brush things.
- (actually, they are complete dried out "sticks" now, but I believe there are Wolfberry plants here.  Some are still alive)

Its some piss-poor property a got duped into buying when we were having a real estate boom pre-2008-ecomonic-distaster.

I'm going to use a type circular depression to for a rain catchment to establish some trees.
I have access to some drilling equipment I modified....
....I actually came up with this idea decades ago, but never got around to implementing it.
Our equipment makes different type of circular dirt mounds, or volcano shaped piles, depending on what we are doing.

Here was the 1st experiment in our equipment yard.

After we shaped the ground, we set up a simple yard sprinkler.
The conical shape of the ground initiates sheet flow toward the center of course....it doesn't take much water sprinkling down to get things moving.
The other 'idea' is the reamer arm leave a small berm around the edge of the depression.
In the case of a MAJOR storm event, I don't want the entire sheetflow for several of the surrounding acres to wash out the system.
I think there would be too much erosion and silt deposition rendering it in effective....also worried all waterlogging the plantings for several days.


So we dug in (10) of the Water-Lenz®© and we tried to plant in some Moringa Trees using the Groasis Waterboxx to nurse the saplings.
The thinking was there they are super fast growers, and drought tolerant.
Problem was gophers ate them.  Twice!
We evolved 3 generations of protective wire baskets and covers to keep them away...
They actually started off quite well and grew quite a bit.   Its a shame because one of the same set of saplings I planted my backyard grew to 9' tall with almost no water.
(had to top it already).

So after designing up a subterranean basket system, with a wire protective (above surface) cover, I decided to just try native mesquites.
They have been in for 2-3 weeks and appear to have not-died.

I may try the Moringas again.   As I think the current wire basket design is working.
Not only do the gophers want to eat the plantings, the earth around the Waterboxx is cool and moist !
They want to move in !  
The moringa was long since gone, but the gopher was really enjoying its new micro-climate here:
They also chew down the wick on the Waterboxx ....sucking the water out!

Actually, if I can keep the gophers outside of the (new) basket system,
their holes and burrows will be an advantage once it rains and ponds.
Rainwater will obviously flood the burrows and will be "planted" down deep in the subsurface.
The burrows probably have feces, organic debris, etc in them.
(I'd rather not kill off the gophers, with traps)

I only planted 5 locations to start.
I'm glad i did NOT 40-50 ..... I would have had a massacre.
The slow proto-typing is working out in the end.

I think I will also try Mexican Palo Verde (parkinsonia aculeata)....just from a biomass accumulator standpoint.
Out of all the native/quasi-native palo verdes here, the M.P.V. is the one the drops its pine-needle-like stems.
The other just shed the small leaf-lets.   The stems tend to accumulate around the base providing a "mulch" and biomass.....they don't blow away so easliy.
The other aspect of the WaterLenz®©TM .... is it should just start collecting and trap any plant-debris blowing around.

I may try to plant the  M.P.V. along with a Wolfberry as a symbiotic partner plant .... someone or something could eat the berries obvs.
MPV would be the legume, the Wolfberry the 'crop'.   Also, I think the Wolfberry would trap a lot of the MPV's leaf litter as well.

The bad thing about this whole deal....is since breaking ground with the rain catchments, I've cursed myself and there has been no rain.
Sure using the Waterboxxes just to establish things, but I'd like to see the Lenzs fill up at least once!
Its like the reverse-effect of washing your car and having it rain the next day.


To be honest, I have no idea.  
I just know it will work....but to what degree?

I think I could make a hand version, that could be assembled in the field, and either turned by hand, or pulled around a pivot-center (with a bearing) by a mule or something.
You'd pound a huge center stake and turn a cutting arm around the pivot.
That machine you see is hardly using much power to do it.
Maybe for 3rd world countries or something.....the establish trees or orchards in drylands.
Sure, people could do it with shovels, pick ax, rake, etc ....but the more perfect that cone shape is, the less rain it takes to make it sheet flow.
....eyeballing it you are going to get irregularities.

It's really only beneficial in 'dig-able' clay soils that are flat .... but I see a lot of those where I'm at.
Any kind of slope, either swales or boomerangs or Zia-type pits are best .... sure I get that.

Maybe habit restoration? (wildlife, other)

Or obvs desert afforestation.
With a machine, I could put a crap ton of these in very quickly.
With very hardy desert trees, I don't know if we would even need the Waterboxx device.

In clay soils I do not believe the ground would erode too quickly to alter the rain-catchment features.
Maybe in area with livestock they'd get trampled out to a degree.   IDK.
After many decades sure.   But by then the landscape and topsoil would have significant organic matter added to it .... aiding water infiltration.
3 weeks ago

Joel Cederberg wrote:i have been musing about the possible benefits and uses of circular swales on areas with virtually no slope to them. in my head i imagine a circle about 50 feet wide, the berm planted with mesquite tree. the center of the swale circle would be dug out to create a low point, here you could maybe plant a tree that does well sheltered from the wind and grows a little taller. i havent really thought of the species i would plant on this idea. anyway, the berm has a mesquite thicket and we'll say the middle is a pomegranate tree made to grow tall, and all around the pomegranate is grazing for sheep or goats or what have you.

anyway, i was just wondering how real life this idea was. i like the idea of digging large circular swales on flat terrain because it satisfies a subtle need i feel for things to be circular. i just like circular things i guess. but regaurdless, i feel as though it would trap more water into less area, has applications for growing food for animal and human consumption, increases soil fertility, a source of timber, a structual pen for animals.  

has anyone seen anything like this? i was looking at a picture in a forum about airwells


anyway, that was the inspiration, i saw that and said, hey, those rocks should be a swale and that whole thing should be a lot bigger.

so yea.

saw this old post.
I'm trying something similar, but machine dug.
I have access to a machine that can go around 23' diameter.

funny enough, since I put the first ten in (in the field) five months ago, it has not rained a drop.
Its like the opposite effect of washing your car and then getting rain.

We tested one of these set-ups in our or yard with a yard-hose sprinkler....it works well.
The second you see saturation of the very top surface of soil, sheet flow occurs, and the middle fills up with water.
Its weird due the continuous slope in a conical manner toward a center point ....
A simple slope in one flat plane does NOT initiate sheet flow near as fast.

In my mind, on perfectly flat ground with a clay type soil, the circular shallow cone is ideal.

Almost anything else (some slope) you are far better constructing swales with grader-blade, tractor, etc. from a time invested point of view.


I am highly optimistic

1 month ago
Yeah, to be honest, I don't like the groasis waterboxx for a mass tree planting (reforestation) role.
Maybe in a (low water use) garden or orchard setting with intermittent maintenance its fine.

Some problems I've had:

- Tubes clog.
Even on the groasis website, their own promotional documentation/photos show the lid collecting with debris/sand. etc.
As well as rain and dew, the lids ALSO catch wind blown sand, silt, grass, plant matter, grass, seed, etc.  It all settles on the tube opening and clogs the tube.
The debris floats onto of the surface tension the water level inside the tube, solidifying there as the water level drops.
In a mass reforestation effort (10,000-100,000 units), the extra cost of the system is not worth it if the whole water collection system is so easily defeated...
...and the advantage the boxx can be reused.
One the box is only going to be a one time drain-down use, with no re-filling....
...you are better off it with a paper-version. (which Groasis sells along with Land Life Company).

- Gophers. etc.   Will dig under the boxx, chew on the wick.  
I had one where there was even  chew-marks on the plastic orifice where the wick protrudes out!
Those two boxxes I had were nearly empty; and all the others were still 75% full from the initial filling.
I believe the rodent were actually "drinking" the water down....
...or chewing the wick flush off make the boxes drain easier.

Other thoughts:

- The round Groasis Waterboxx is made of ..... plastic.
Some carbon there for sure, right?
I doubt they use recycled plastic for this application; the Boxx has to be quite durable and precisely made to work.
I will say, I'm impressed how all of the pieces fit together and function properly (in a sterile environment).

At least the options purported to be made of recycled paper.

The paper Growboxx and the Land Life Company Cocoon seem to hold a lot more water initially, (but seem to be set up to drain-down quicker)
1 month ago

Judith Browning wrote:I wonder if this has been posted before? This showed up in my 'art' feed this morning and I had to search for more information...here are a few links...Interesting micro climate possibilities although off into mono-cropping for sure.

Vineyards sit in moon-like craters on a volcano in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain.
Vineyards on Lanzarote date from the mid-18th century, following six years of volcanic eruptions that blanketed the island in black ash. Semicircles of dry-stone walling protect the vines from the relentless wind on Lanzarote and a single vine is planted in a fairly deep depression behind each wall. The vine is never watered. With virtually no rain it catches what little rain there is, but condensation forms in these depressions overnight as the air temperature cools the heated volcanic soils and this provides most of the vine’s water requirements. It seems a desperately labour-intensive way of farming but they have done it this way for generations.

be sure to find the vehicles in the photo for scale.

I came up with a similar arrangement, but for dry desert, with trees......just started my first experiments
I haven't read the articles about the above pits is Spain, but I'm guessing they work off of dew/condensation to some degree.
I'm just trying to work off of rainwater.    I need my seedlings at the main house to germinate so I can get more of these started.


My "water lens" design is more shallow.

They are about 7 meters in diameter, and about 200-300mm deep in the center.
I'm using them where the ground is nearly flat.
I actually let the spoil pile up a protective berm so the pits don't get completely washed out/filled in during a freak flood/storm event.
I just want the water that land on the circle.

Its so flat here, the water just kind ponds, sinks in 2", and then evaporates immediately.

Its freaky how well it works,; used a garden hose with a sprinkler to simulate a light rain/sprinkling.
The 3-D convex nature of the ground really amplifies sheeting of the water toward the center.

Trying 10 at first.   If successful ...phase 2 is going to be 50-100 units.

Trying to figure out what to grow treewise still for phase 2.
200-250mm of annual rainfall.  Most of which comes within 2 months of the summer, and 2 months of the winter.

4 months ago

Graham Chiu wrote:There's another similar cocoon

but again expensive at 6.5 Euros each in bulk.
They look like they're made the same way as egg cartoons - cardboard pulp molded and dried.

Maybe you could take egg cartons and make the container part of the cocoon? Seal it with beeswax to make it water proof?


Apparently, certain termites can eat the Groasis Paper version.
Paper may not be the way to go......even a one-time-disposable-use scenario.

6 months ago