A planter that will thrive even under black thumbs
Product: Modern Sprout hydroponic planter box
Where/When: Wicker Park/2013
Founders: Sarah Burrows and Nick Behr
What it is: A tiny nursery that’s as self-sustaining as an ant farm. Founder Burrows thinks hydroponic planter manufacturers have made life hard for in-home gardeners. “There are a lot of parts,” she says. “They’re plastic, they’re ugly, and then you have to figure out how to assemble them.” Making things look pretty and behave well is a big part of Modern Sprout’s plan. Installation mostly involves picking a window ledge. All models are wood, and some of them use reclaimed wood from Chicago’s own Rebuilding Exchange.
How it works: Throw in water, fertilizer and seedlings, and the box takes it from there. A timer tells the air pump when to push nutrients and water to plants. There’s room for three plants, and a three-way valve metes water and nutrients according to each seedling’s preferences. The chalkboard on the side bails out amateur gardeners who have trouble remembering where they slotted the rosemary.
Who it’s good for: City dwellers with small apartments or a trail of plant homicides. Also caters to those who are sick of buying herbs in bulk at the grocery store. “Never do you need two cups of basil, ever,” Burrows says.
Where to find it: Kickstarter for now, with their sights set on retail.
How much it costs: $75 for basic (the $65 option is sold out on Kickstarter), plus $5-$7 in annual energy costs. A $135 option includes a solar panel to run the air pump, which means it’d pay itself off in about ten years. Each order comes with 3-6 months worth of organic fertilizer.
When it arrives: Assuming they hit their Kickstarter goal, Burrows and Behr expect it to ship by mid-July.