Most of the time, we find ourselves reviewing different iterations of the same technologies. Never ending lines of almost identical smartphones, tablets and thousands of accessories. The tech sector needs some new life. So today, we’ll be taking a look at an alternative piece of technology aimed at the living – the Click and Grow Smart Herb Garden!
The Smart Herb Garden was originally launched in 2014 after a successful KickStarter campaign which crowdfunded a massive $625,851 from 10,477 backers. For those of you have forgotten their plant biology – a plant’s roots need oxygen, water and nutrients to grow and support the shoot, which has leaves that photosynthesis, the products of which are carbon compounds which are used to build the plant. Thus when constructing such a system it is important to cater for all these needs. So Let’s go through the process of using the Smart Herb Garden.
The device comes in Apple-esque packaging. It’s just a joy to see such well designed packaging and marketing material. It consists of a rectangular basin with rounded edges. The Smart Herb Gaden comes in white, with an option of different colours for the top lid – you can choose from a selection of white, green or orange. Having a design which is both sleek and modern, you’ll probably find no problem setting up this device in any room. The rectangular basin has four cut outs. Three of these, are circular and are for placing your plants in whilst a fourth oblong cut out serves as your watering space. An extendable arm also sprouts out of the reservoir. This arm houses the LEDs which provide the plants with the light needed for growth.
You start off by removing the nutrient cartridges from their packaging and removing the green sticker that encloses them. Click and Grow are boasting that the backbone of their technology is the ‘nanotech’, engineered growth medium that comes in these cartridges. The importance of this growth medium they claim, is that it “provides the plants with just the right amount of oxygen, water and nutrients at any one time”. It’s also a sound financial strategy – you only buy the garden once, but the cartridges lock you into a system where you’re dependent on Click and Grow.
After scribbling the names of the seeds you’ve planted – a smart move when planting more than one seed type – you install the cartridges in the cut outs. You’ll notice they’re in place when a slight clicking sound is heard. Packed along with each cartridge is a plastic dome which you place over your cartridge, with the idea of creating a miniature greenhouse environment for your seeds and thus speeding the growing process. You leave these small domes on until the plants have grown to a size where they start touching the top of the dome.
The next step is simple enough – plug in the garden. The LED arm’s height can be adjusted to three different heights, depending on the height of the plants. These plants are provided with 16 hours of continuous light and 8 hours of dark, all of which is controlled by a timer. Ideally, the set up is somewhere with natural lighting as well, however I managed to grow the seedlings using just the artificial light quite easily. You will however want to be careful about which room you’re choosing – if you’re setting it up in your bedroom, you’ll want to time the timer to switch off during your bedtime hours.
The final step for your home garden is to add water into the tank until the level indicator is perfectly level. The LED lamp has a sensor which indicates what the water level of the reservoir is. If the water level is to low, the LED map starts to blink – reminding you you have to water the plant. But this won’t happen too often as click and grow claim that you’ll only have to add water to the garden once every 3 – 6 weeks. From here on, there’s practically nothing to do. Just sit back and wait for your plantlets to grow and you can harvest or take cuttings from the herbs once they reach a mature size.
So What Else?
Depending on your budget, the pricing of the system may be somewhat steep. The smart herb garden costs €59.95 and comes packed with 3 basil refills. This is a one time cost but the cartridges are quite pricey at €19.95 for a 3 pack. Pricing can be prohibitive and for Click & Grow to expand their market base, prices will have to be lowered significantly. It’s potential to expand out of its current niche is noticeable and will largely depend on this ability to reduce costs.
I love this smart pot’s simplicity in tackling the problems faced by amateur gardeners. It’s an almost perfect solution for the many busy individuals who want to grow plants, but don’t have time to spare. Click and Grow are already offering a whole range of other smart garden solutions on their website.