Meet Herbert, the vertical hydroponic wall garden
The latest edition of YAIGU (yet another indoor grow unit) brings you Herbert, an LED-powered indoor "farm" that grows greens & veggies on your wall.
There's nothing like fresh homegrown produce, but if you don't have an outdoor garden space, or you want a year-round supply of greens and veggies, you're gonna have to bring the 'farm' indoors. And the recent explosion of indoor grow unit products seems to suggest that there are a lot of people who are willing to do so, which might speak more to the desire for high-tech solutions than it does for the desire for local food (but which is probably a combination of the two).
The latest entry to the indoor growing gadget scene is Herbert, which is designed to be a space-saving solution, as it hangs on the wall, as well as a highly efficient one, as it incorporates both hydroponics (for fast growth) and LED lights (for energy-efficient illumination). While there's no indication of where the product's name comes from (Was Herbert a fantastic gardener? Is Herbert a strange portmanteau of herb + robot?), what's clear is that people dig the concept, as the Kickstarter campaign has already quadrupled its crowdfunding goal, with three weeks still to run.
At the core of Herbert is a hydroponic growing system, which grows the plants in a water-based solution (water plus nutrients) instead of soil, allowing for a smaller grow unit (plants need less space for growing medium) as well as more control over nutrient delivery, while also using 90% less water than soil-based systems. Driving the plants' growth is a 60W LED lighting unit, which is said to have been developed specifically for optimal growth, and between the hydroponic system and the lighting, Herbert is said to be "40% faster compared to traditional farming methods."
"Plants use sunlight to convert CO₂ into sugar and other organic compounds. With our lighting solutions you are not only not dependant on daylight anymore and require less thereof, with Malina, our adaptive LED, it is possible to change the light spectrum to meet the specific requirements of plants and their different growth stages. Taste, yield, resilience towards pest problems, surface feel, and growth - all these factors can be influenced by using an optimal lighting system!" - Ponix Systems
15 plants can fit into Herbert, ranging from salad greens to herbs to strawberries, and the initial purchase includes 30 biodegradable sponges (which are used instead of a pot with soil), as well as starter set of seeds and fertilizer. And seeing as it's 2017, a subscription model will have new seeds, sponges, and fertilizer shipped direct to your door if desired.
The units measure 32.3 x 22.0 x 4.5 inches (820 x 560 x 115 mm) and weigh 26.5 lb (12 kg) when fully loaded with plants and water. And BECAUSE APPS, Herbert also integrates with an iOS or Android application that can be used to adjust the lighting settings, as well as "guide you through the growing process."
Here's the kicker, though, which may be a deal-killer for some: Herbert costs almost $400 for backers of the campaign, which is said to be 25% off the future retail price. That's a lot of green for growing green on your wall, but it could be an even trade-off for those who value homegrown produce. The other potential downside to Herbert is the grow light, which is essential to its operation, but which could also be too much light for people in some rooms of the house (your mileage may vary, but I've got an LED grow light that's about double the wattage, and it's intensely bright).