Self-described geek, Mike Schropp, built his own ‘bio computer’ in his basement to grow his own wheatgrass.
Mike used various donated computers that he was able to disassemble to cobble together a working computer for his project. He had been looking for a project that allowed him to join his passion for technology with something organic, while allowing him to create a computer that his 5-year-old could learn and experiment with.
He writes on his blog:
I can’t exactly recall when the idea came to me, but at some point I started wanting to use the heat from a computer as a way to warm the soil and help with germination/growth. I’m about as far from a botanist as it comes, I did some reading online and became pretty interested in the effects of soil temperature on germination/growth. I read different studies and papers from various universities. It was not too long into that process that I became hooked on the idea of using computer heat as a way to control the soil temperature of some sort of living plant life.
As the idea developed further I started looking into wheatgrass as a plant option. There is something clean and natural about the look and idea of a piece of grass growing in my basement. I thought the look would alter the space a little bit and add a bit of color along with something more than just metals and plastics. After reading enough studies and papers on the effects of soil temperature and germination with wheatgrass I felt like I had a good enough handle on the basics to tackle this.
The results are a PC case that has been modified to take advantage of the waste-heat generated by operating the computer to germinate and grow wheatgrass in the low light environment of his basement. It is also equipped with Windows and Linux to give his son options. The whole project cost him $10.00. There are detailed pictures and information on his build at this blog, Total Geekdom.
Frugal indoor seed starts, like myself, have been taking advantage of waste-heat generated by televisions and refrigerators to germinate seeds for years. I think Mike is onto a great idea that he could use to create computers that germinate seeds for gardeners who can't bring themselves to buy heating mats.