Get growing, even if you have a completely black thumb, thanks to these new smart planters that connect your container gardens to an app that tells you when to water, prune, and harvest food plants and constantly monitors the weather, soil conditions, and your plants' every need for you.
Big Mother, aka GROW, is a container gardening system designed with smart sensors (powered by two simple AA batteries) and connected mobile app (free for iPhone/Android) that aim to take all the guesswork out of growing your own food and promise to make kitchen gardening experts out of even the succulent-killers among us.
The smart irrigation system designed right into the GROW Duo containers allows you to adapt an existing spigot or hose for easy drip irrigation (and eco-friendly water use) so you have plants that basically water themselves — connected to the app via sensors that monitor soil conditions and plant types.
The startup also sells organic GROW Kits to "simplify the gardening process by shipping your organic seeds (seedlings coming soon), soil, seed sheets, and fertilizers directly to your door. The app connects everything together with personalized guidance and advice based on your unique garden profile and the microclimate in your neighborhood.
As anyone who has been inspired to create a kitchen garden knows, it's all easy to spend hundreds (if not thousands) on a container garden and then have nothing to show for it — because, as an organic gardening instructor at the Sustainable Food Center in Austin once warned a class I attended, traditional gardeners must maintain just as intimate a relationship with their plants as they do with their pets in order to make sure they stay just as healthy and as thriving. Especially for newbies, however; it's all too easy to get that relationship wrong when you're starting out — just as dating is a learning curve — and kill off your plants for the first few seasons before really getting the hang of it. GROW promises to cut out that learning curve, ensuring happy and productive plants and a bounty of fresh food without anything wasted.
CEO Idan Cohen (formerly co-founder of Boxee) was inspired to create GROW after the experience of growing tomato plants in buckets on the roof his urban apartment building in 2010. His new company's mission is to help make kitchen gardens as ubiquitous as geraniums, and fresh organic food more accessible in urban areas and food deserts — basically anywhere and everywhere.
"We've lived first-hand the transformative power of spending time outdoors with friends and family, enjoying nature and healthy food," says the GROW site. "We wanted to make that experience universally available in a straightforward package that helps you succeed and reap the rewards of growing."
GROW is currently available for pre-order at a discounted pre-launch price of $199 per "duo" ($249 MSRP), with shipping promised in early 2018. After launch, the company also plans to partner closely with charities, educational organizations, and "leaders in the food world who are committed to providing access to real food."
According to TechCrunch, GROW has already raised $2.4 million in funding and plans to keep customers coming back again and again to its online marketplace to refill their easy-to-cultivate planters season after season. The pre-ordered GROW Duo's also include $20 in credit to the marketplace at HelloGrow.com for seeds and such.