Ten Futuristic Garden Tools
June 10, 2013 by Sarah Amandolare
A slew of high-tech weapons could soon occupy home gardeners’ arsenals. From soil humidity sensors, to computer-generated growing tips, to weather detection devices, these contraptions challenge the notion that plants need a human touch.
Whether you’ve mastered indoor herbs, wrestled with roses to no avail, or painstakingly crafted a backyard flower patch, the new generation of garden gadgets could make your life easier. Here are ten of the most intriguing new techie tools for green and black thumbs alike:
You’ve heard of the Cloud, that ambiguous storage space for all the world’s data; Bitponics provides a similar service for gardeners through a cloud connected to your WiFi network. At $500, the Bitponics Base Station is a splurge, but it does provide a remarkable service: monitoring plant pH, water and air temperature, light and humidity. The system alerts you should anything skew too far from the plant’s personalized Grow Plan, and you can make adjustments through your computer, anywhere and anytime.
Like Bitponics, this garden gadget relies on data stored in a cloud. Place the PlantLink in the soil near your indoor or outdoor plants – each plant or lawn area needs its own link – and enter the plant type into the company website.
You’ll then be provided with a watering schedule, which you can access online and be alerted to via email. PlantLink is a Kickstarter project, developed by a group of University of Illinois engineering students.
Although the assemblage of Botanicalls would appear to require an inhuman amount of patience and attention to detail–prepare yourself for soldering and wire-snipping–the end result is a device that allows your plant to tweet and text its needs.
This project began in 2009 when students in the Interactive Telecommunications program at NYU wanted to give neglected plants a voice, and hesitant gardeners a leg up.
Using a combination of hydroponics and intensive energy-efficient lighting, Indoor Garden Herbie gives apartment dwellers the gift of a garden. This compact container comes in black, white, red or green, and would make an attractive addition to a kitchen or fire escape.
Almost eerily prescient, Click n’ Grow is always one step ahead of you. The sleek flowerpot has a refillable water reservoir and plant cartridge filled with seeds and special growth medium–a super-vitamin for soil. Tucked inside the pot are electronic sensors and software that measures the plant’s needs, releasing precise amounts of fertilizer, air and water.
There is more to this unassuming herb box than meets the eye. Constructed from PEFC-certified spruce wood, Erbiza brims with organic potting soil and seeds, and comes with a special code that enables registration on GrowThePlanet.com. The site doles out daily advice to ensure your chives, thyme, oregano and parsley flourish.
Grow a vertical indoor garden beside a window year-round with this automated plant feeding and watering system. Windowfarms Tower supplies plants with nutrient-rich water that spurts upward from a reservoir in the system’s base, before funneling down from plant to plant. Thanks to a simple electric timer, the system is energy efficient; once installed, it will only cost a few dollars per year.
The Italian trio of Lorenzo De Bartolomeis, Gabriele Diamanti and Filipo Poli combined their backgrounds in building, landscape and graphic design to create this multitasking irrigation device. It determines the amount of water your garden needs, based on air and soil humidity measurements, and type and quantity of vegetable. Rugiada also releases water in three different ways, depending on plant needs: nebulizing spray, drip or rotating sprinkler. Keep an eye out for Parrot Flower Power, a similar irrigation device with a wireless sensor, which is set for release some time this year.
9. Sprout Robot
This website answers the question on every new gardener’s lips: where do I begin? Simply input your zip code, and Sprout Robot will craft an easy-to-follow gardening plan based on your location and climate. Get seeds in the mail just in time for planting season, or opt to receive seasonal reminder emails to keep your garden on track.
For just 99 cents, this mobile growing guide covers an impressive range of gardening questions and concerns. From seed type, to germination and harvest time, to general planting suggestions, such as soil depth and plant spacing, Garden App is an uncomplicated yet thoroughly helpful resource.
On the Horizon
In development by Public Lab, an open community-supported non-profit, Infragram is a relatively simple and inexpensive (should retail for about $35) infrared camera which can measure plant health.
Currently in the crowdfunding stage on Kickstarter, Infragram is based on the principle that photosynthesizing plants absorb most visible light (less green than red and blue, which is why they appear green to us) but reflect near-infrared. Snapping a photo with Infragram results in two separate images–one with infrared, another with regular light–and a “false-color” composite where bright spots indicate lots of photosynthesis.