Gardening and technology may not seem an obvious fit but the Click & Grow attempts to combine the two to create a plant growing solution that does all the work for you indoors.
Two models of the Click & Grow exist. The Smart Flowerpot is the model we have and the soon to be released rectangular model with a light is the Smart Herb Garden. The Click & Grow came into the studio just before the heat wave hit the UK, so this product had more than optimised amounts of hot weather to impress us.
Its design is square with rounded corners and is charmingly simplistic. An LED light module sits on the front of the unit alerting the user of a lack of water (blue), everything's OK (green) and change the batteries (red). The LED indicator is definitely useful but only displays once every five minutes and cannot be triggered on command. No buttons are found anywhere on the Click & Grow Smart Flowerpot and its overall aesthetic design is very ’out of the way' and we admire this a lot.
The inside is accessed by removing two plates which form a circle around the plant cartridge. This area is where the batteries and water are stored. The water cannot be overfilled, it's very important that the line stating the maximum amount is not ignored, if so it will result in burnt out electrics as the water will destroy them. As the plant gets more mature, refilling the water will become an occurrence every two-three weeks, which is far less than a traditional plant. Four AA batteries are required and don't come supplied which seems like a bit of a cheek considering the price tag this guy sports. A regular set of AA's will last for around 8-12 months.
The Science & Variety
The real magic of the Click & Grow concept is the plant cartridge. It's definitely the first plant we've ever seen with a silicone chip attached. This chip reads the smart soil; a nano-technological discovery by the folks at NASA, it guarantees plant roots an optimal amount of water, oxygen and nutrients at all times. Currently a wide selection of different plant cartridges are available: basil, mini tomato, busy lizzie, painted nettle, chilli pepper, cockscomb, thyme, lemon balm, china pink, garden sage, lamb's ear, sugar leaf and parsley.
So, on day one of receiving the Click & Grow Smart Flowerpot we set everything up and placed it in front of a window. We chose to install the basil refill cartridge, removing the cockscomb cartridge that came in the box with the Flowerpot. We opted to try and grow basil because we thought it would be nice to have something that we could cook with and eat. An included translucent circular disk needs to be placed on top of the cartridge until the seeds shoot. One week passed and no signs of any shoots appeared, once two weeks had gone by the first shoot appeared and then quickly followed with three more. These four shoots have been the only ones from all the holes to grow, which is a mild shame as we were hoping to have a jungle styled herb garden to show-off in the window at the studio. But a quick Google search reveals that actually this isn't an isolated incident with either the Click & Grow or a traditional growing scenario and that it's something that even smart soil can't make allowances for.
Our photos were taken week by week and exhibit how quickly the basil plant grew once it got going. Within a month we had big edible basil leafs ready for the picking. The basil smells very fresh within the room it's grown and the taste is also delicious. It's actually the best tasting basil we've ever tried. We cut it up to make pizzas and paninis on a weekly basis. New leaves appear and grow very quickly to replace the older picked ones and after over three months of growing we've been enjoying our new reliable supply of regular basil.
Seeing basil grow with this little degree of effort is satisfying. The smart soil definitely serves its intended purpose of removing the need for constant attention with watering and other nutrient treatments involved with traditional gardening. We'd likely forget to water a traditional plant and later, to compensate, over-water it. This optimises itself and we bask in its glory! And after experiencing the swiftness and simplicity of this concept we ponder why this hasn't been applied on an industrial scale?
The Click & Grow Smart Flowerpot replaces the tiresome business of traditional gardening with the modern concept of a silicone chip, software and smart soil. It's worked impressively well for us and we definitely want to venture out and try more refill cartridges.