I have a fantasy of plucking juicy, ripe tomatoes from the vine in my garden, snipping a few basil leaves off the plant, and making myself a fresh summer salad. The problem is, I’m not much of a gardener. I’ve killed so many cacti that I don’t even try anymore: My buying a plant is pretty much sentencing it to death.
That’s why I’ve been so excited to see the home grow landscape blossom this year, with tons of systems, apps, and other devices to make growing food at home easier for even the worst black thumb like me.
Here are the most notable happenings and advancements in the past 12 months.
Grow It All
The Edyn solar-powered sensor is perfect for the detailed gardener with a big backyard plot: It sends data about weather, soil conditions, light frequency, and moisture levels to your phone, where you can manage it all. Meanwhile using sensors, the Gro app can also put together that data and even give you suggestions about specific plants. If you’re more of a hands-off person, the Parrot Pot senses the water level in the pot and waters your plant accordingly. These three devices don’t have to be used solely for produce, but they would certainly make it easier to grow vegetables and fruit at home.
Then there’s the FarmBot, which launched earlier this year and is available for preorder now for delivery in early 2017. The open-source home-farming robot plants seeds, kills weeds, and waters plants individually for their precise needs. It’s controlled through an app and grows enough food to feed one person year-round. Sounds like it might be advanced enough to override even my black thumb.
Home Garden Copycats
Throughout the past year, we’ve seen so many indoor garden systems that we’re not sure how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sure, they’re cool, but they’re also copycats of one another, which at some point makes all of them indistinguishable.
Ikea launched its indoor garden for year-round fresh produce, SproutsIO kicked off its connected platform and app, Japanese company Foop brought its hydroponic pod to market, and Opcom launched its GrowBox. Still in the development stages, Everbloom conceptualized its grow fridge, Click & Grow raised funds on Kickstarter for its Smart Garden, and an entrepreneur at Purdue has created what’s essentially a Keurig for hydroponic gardening.
All of these are designed for small spaces, perfect for big cities and tiny kitchens. They almost universally have some sort of pod (with or without soil) and an app to help make the growing process easier.
In short, we have a very crowded market with a lot of systems that essentially do the same thing. Over the next year or so we’ll see some of them weeded out, with only a few remaining: It will come down to the best interface, prettiest design, and most interactive and helpful support and community.