GardenPlug™ uses soil-less substrates (volcanic), active aeration and smart sensors with a stackable design for windows and walls.
About this project
GardenPlug™ systems are simple and affordable indoor hybrid gardening solutions for herbs, vegetables, flowers and more!
Urban farming is an emerging market, and we’re at the forefront of it with novel technology and applications. We’re avid gardeners, but we know that outdoor farming is not sustainable given our rapid population growth of the world. We’re changing that with GardenPlug™.
There’s tremendous water wastage, nutrient depletion, and lack of gardening real-estate for many gardeners who wish to enjoy their greenthumb passions. There’s a lack of real-time intelligence (monitoring) for plant statistics that gardeners can use to their advantage. Better growing substrates that are most beneficial for plants are desired. Even the amount of labor that goes into traditional gardening is tiring. People want a novel gardening model that’s enjoyable and appealing for all without the common hassles and mess.
We sought to fix these issues by creating a novel indoor hybrid gardening system that utilizes one of the most common structural features of homes: windows and walls! We created a watering system whereby maximum retention and usage of water supplied to plants is achieved. An active aeration model bubbles water to introduce oxygen directly into the growing medium of the plants. We also don’t use any soil because it causes root-rot and soil erosion over time. Instead, we created a multimodal gradient system that uses volcanic basalt (volcano ash) and clay pebbles. Finally, we created a microbial system for plants that allows them to maximally flourish in the best conditions. We made it very efficient for all of the symbiotic relationships that occur between microorganisms and growing plants. An idea was born and we put it to action.
Today, we’re so thrilled to present GardenPlug™ to you! Our complete system allows anyone from amateurs to professionals to quickly and efficiently set up a decorative and highly productive indoor smart hybrid garden.
- efficiently maximize the usage of your home’s window-and-wall real-estate
- maximize the yield of plants by creating optimal growing environments
- maximize water efficiency and usage of plants
- use novel, long-life growing mediums instead of traditional soil
- uses active aeration of the growing medium to keep nutrients constantly moving and enabling water-uptake by plants
- uses natural sunlight from windows instead of electricity-consuming grow lights
- uses smart sensors that monitor and track your plants for various growing stats
- gives you a complete package for everything you need to get started with indoor hybrid gardening
With GardenPlug™, we created a smart indoor hybrid gardening system that arrives to you with everything you need to get started. We’re really passionate about technology and gardening. We sought to bridge the two with the creation of GardenPlug™.
How It Works
We’re working on two models at the moment: the GardenPlug™ ECO and the GardenPlug™ SMART. We initially started with the GardenPlug™ PROTO to test our prototype.
The GardenPlug ECO kit comes with everything you need (minus plants) to get you up and running with our system. All hardware and components to get a fully operational system is provided. Simple instructions with images are also included for hassle-free installation. Trust us, it’s very easy to set-up – we made sure of it 🙂
Active aeration is done via an airline tube that connects to a mineralized aerator at the bottom of the planter. This creates bubbles (oxygen) within the GP Bottom™ substrate that subsequently aerates the entire container. This allows for movement of nutrients and enrichment of all organic and inorganic compounds in solution. It also enables a richer microbiological environment that is optimal for plant growth.
GP Top™ consists of volcanic basalt (volcanic ash) which has 30+ elements that are naturally nutritional for plant life. These mineral nutrients allow for vibrant and robust growth. The macro and micro porosity of the volcanic grains maximize the water efficiency for optimal diffusion of gases and nutrients by creating large surface areas for live cultures and microorganisms for a complete plant ecosystem. Micorrhizal microorganisms are included to provide symbiotic relationships that allow fungi to colonize the root systems of plants, providing increased water and nutrient absorption capabilities while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. Heterotrophic microorganisms are included to break down waste and act as natural decomposers. Humic substances are included to provide positive effects on plant physiology by improving soil structure and fertility and by influencing nutrient uptake and root architecture.
GP Bottom™ consists of porous clay granules allow for airy macropores and micropores at the bottom of the plant containers. This allows for hefty amounts of oxygen for fast-growing roots while also allowing for healthy water and nutrient retention from the roots to the top nodes. Roots are able to draw water from the macro- and microporous spaces. The spacing of the pebbles also allows for excellent drainage.
Multimodal gradients naturally develop over time due to size-exclusion topography (SET) and aerated nutrient diffusion (AND). GP Top™ allows course gradients to remain at the top while finer particles pass to the bottom. GP Bottom™ allows for adequate spacing for optimal root development, water circulation, and air diffusion.
Active aeration allows for nutrient delivery and system cycling. Gases and liquids are continuously in circulation allowing for optimal surface area contact and kinetic diffusion of macro and micronutrients for plants. Active aeration also allows for container cycling through convective currents of gases, liquids, and soluble nutrients.
Biological system allows for a living microbial ecosystem in an aerated aquaculture that symbiotically thrives with plants. These microorganisms help recycle waste, aid in root development, and continuously improve substrate composition. All systems include a mutually beneficial composition of micorrhizal and heterotrophic microorganisms in addition to humic substances.
The wireless sensor allows for easy placement to monitor individual plants in GardenPlug™ systems. We made it intentionally wireless to increase the aesthetics of the system. There is a solar panel that allows for the sensor to run hassle-free. We are currently working on this and are using various circuit boards to reduce the cost of such wireless operations while maximizing battery efficiency. We are attempting to include various plant statistics for monitoring purposes without making it too complicated. Ultimately, our GardenPlug™ software will automate everything from the cloud so that you can monitor your plants remotely via a mobile app 🙂
Our Vision Of An Indoor Smart Hybrid Garden
I’m very passionate about gardening. In fact, I’ve had tons of experience since a child with urban gardening and rural farming (there may still be a live WordPress blog detailing some of his greenthumb adventures – https://gardenofharris.wordpress.com/ ) My family were subsistence and plantation farmers in India, so I think that’s how I got my greenthumb 🙂
Urban gardening is the future of subsistence farming in developed worlds. It will also help people understand how vegetables and plants grow in optimized environments. We want to create intelligent gardening systems that are sustainable and self-sufficient for families.
This campaign will help us to build on top of our prototype. We want to bring the GardenPlug™ ECO system to the market now while we work on further development of the GardenPlug™ SMART sensors. But we definitely have a lot more plans in our backend to make GardenPlug™ an advanced product and a rich experience for the avid gardener.
Sustainable Food Source: Microgreens, Vegetables and Herbs
The entire idea for GardenPlug™ stems around the need for households to become self-sufficient on growing food. We’ve tested various vegetables from different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and more…. in addition to microgreens including arugula, cabbage, red beets, radish, chervil, and more… and even herbs including mint, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary and more! We’re continuously testing growth yields for a multitude of plants in GardenPlug™ systems (currently about 50+ different plants growing). We’re enabling pesticide-free growing so that you know exactly where your food comes from! It’s also comparatively inexpensive than store-bought food and has higher yield of produce.
We put together two systems (with more on the way!) that we’re placing on Kickstarter to help us raise funds. The GardenPlug™ ECO is everything you need to start a soil-less, active aeration garden to start growing vegetables. This kit does not include wireless sensors.
The GardenPlug™ SMART is everything that you see in the ECO plus the wireless sensors. We are actively working on the sensors right now, and we should have them ready very soon. We’re building out apps, software, and an entire platform for GardenPlug™. These all take time and money.
Making It Simple and Affordable For All
Our goal is to put a GardenPlug™ system inside every home in the USA… and the world. We spoke to a lot of people on the price points, and their main concern is on the entry price point. We want to create a solution that allows people to have multiple sensors (1 for each plant) while keeping the price point low enough for even the average gardener to get into the game.
That’s why we split the ECO and SMART models. We’re working on making the entire unit under $99, but this will take time and better manufacturing processes. We made the sensors for the SMART system to be wireless because we desired a clean-looking system that can connect to the cloud or to a mobile phone app. We’re actively working on these right now as well.
Our First Prototype: GardenPlug™ PROTO
It wouldn’t be a Kickstarter if we didn’t show you how it all started! When we realized that we wanted a simple, clean, and easy-to-manage indoor hybrid gardening system, we built a prototype primarily to test out the growth-ability and viability of plants in such a system.
First, we knew that sunlight was critical, which is why we desired a window-enabling system. Then, we introduced new substrates like volcanic ash and clay pebbles because we knew soil could get messy indoors. More importantly, the new substrates and growing media have longer half-lives than soil. Soil also erodes over time. Then we added tubing for active aeration because we knew that constant movement of water would decrease root-rot and enable plants to get the most optimal conditions for nutrient uptake. Finally, we put it all together and grew various peppers and tomatoes over time to test plant viability. Here’s some of the pics:
Passionate and Committed Gardener
My name is Mohammed (aka Mo), and I’m an avid gardener. I’ve been gardening since 5 years of age. I’m 29 now and still have a greenthumb. My background is in molecular genetics, and I’m a cancer diagnostics scientist. I still find time to practice my gardening passions and interests every year. I want to bring GardenPlug™ to every home in the USA to enable subsistence farming for a sustainable food supply on a per-family basis. You can see a WordPress blog detailing some of the gardening adventures I had back in 2012: https://gardenofharris.wordpress.com/
Feel free to email me anytime if you want to get in touch! [email protected]
The Road Ahead
You should have a pretty good idea by now about our product. Now, the focus is more on bringing GardenPlug™ to market. We need your support via this Kickstart campaign! And by support, it doesn’t necessarily mean your money (although we hope you’ll contribute financially!). You can help us in other ways too, like getting us an intro to some VC’s, investors, and people who can help us financially. Even sharing our Kickstarter does wonders to help raise awareness for GardenPlug™. That’s why our goal is so low. You never know who you know!
Currently, the hardware is all done (i.e. the GardenPlug™ ECO is ready and functional). We are working on sourcing of parts and on the electronics for the wireless sensors. We’re also building out the software and using Google’s open platform to do it. We are working on a better, more modern design for manufacturing, and we’ve identified some manufacturers for our system who will help us bring our product to market.
GardenPlug™ is designed, developed and manufactured in New Jersey, USA. We are a proud American company operating within “The Garden State” of America.
A quick timeline of how fast we are:
- January 2016: Idea was born.
- February 2016: Blueprint and plans outlined.
- March 2016: Prototype built.
- April 2016: Tweaking and growth studies of various vegetables and herbs conducted.
- May 2016: GardenPlug™ ECO was born – demonstrated higher plant yields with active aeration and non-soil substrates.
- June 2016: GardenPlug.com website developed.
- July 2016: Kickstarter to help raise initial capital.
As you can see, we’re pretty quick and efficient with development. Here’s a look at the coming months:
- August 2016: Marketing promotion and pre-orders.
- September 2016: Kickstarter campaign ends.
- October 2016: Shipping of GardenPlug™ ECO.
- November 2016: Finish up final touches of wireless sensors.
- December 2016: Test wireless sensors with over 50+ plants for the “Florida room” model.
- January 2017: Shipping of GardenPlug™ SMART.
- February 2017: Prototype of GardenPlug™ LOOP – cycling of water, solar panels for zero-power operations, new substrates, and window-pane light filters.
We’re thinking about our stretch goals. Let us know if you want to see something in particular, and we’ll certainly be all ears! We have a lot of ideas for our future, which all revolve around indoor smart hybrid gardening.
Initially, we wanted to raise $250K but realized that it may be impossible via Kickstarter. We’re trying to produce our systems at reasonable costs. Our goal for Kickstarter is to get 1000 units out there into market. Between shipping, manufacturing, large-scale production, sourcing, R&D, tooling, components, assembly, Kickstarter fees, and funds for further development, we need your help to enable growth of GardenPlug™. If we can sell even 100 units, that’s enough for us to pitch our product in front of potential venture capitalists and investors so that we could raise funding that way as well. More importantly, we really want you to share our story via social media – spread the world and help us raise awareness! So we’re only raising $5k now to get some traction and show demand for GardenPlug™.
So please – support us and enable the future of urban gardening and subsistence farming for the average family! Let’s create a smarter gardening model for every household in the world!
Make sure to follow our growth and developments at www.gardenplug.com . We have other cool things in the works!
I will continuously post updates, images, pictures, videos etc to anyone who becomes a backer. I’m very attentive and respond very quickly (as I’m always online). You can connect with GardenPlug™ via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website… and Kickstarter. I want to keep you guys in the loop with our progress, so no worries there!
Risks and challenges
We are very confident and prepared with respect to the GardenPlug™ ECO model. We’ve tested this thoroughly and believe this is the best introductory product to get into the market initially. We have a fairly prototypical design of the GardenPlug™ SMART, and we are diligently working on the wireless sensors, software and open platform for this. This is why we are raising funds.
We are building everything in New Jersey, aka “The Garden State”, and we’re targeting various schools for educational purposes of GardenPlug™ systems. This is how we are testing the GardenPlug™ model overall. We’ve also installed a few systems around the average consumer’s home. We are confident on functionality, utility and installation.
We are researching a few contract manufacturers for large-scale production. The idea is to bring the GardenPlug™ ECO model under $99 USD. We are working with a California design and manufacturing company for bringing prototypes to market while also creating better aesthetics for a product that will ultimately be targeting households.
For the wireless sensors, we are working with a manufacturer who has extensive experience both in software and hardware.
Our biggest challenge will be software development and scale-up logistics. However, we want to ship a stable and functional product while adding addendum features as we grow. All of our customers will have remote access to software updates (for free, of course), so we can always add new features as we grow. For hardware, we are very confident in stability and installation protocols. We made it dummy-proof 🙂
We are also working on the GardenPlug™ app (iPhone and Android), but these will take time (most likely 2017). For now, we are building a desktop web-app that will operate via a cloud computing system. It’s pretty cool.
As always, there will be risks to our product, as we are just getting into market. But we hope that you see this as a means for us to raise capital to help us build a better product over time. As our first customers, you will be the first mass-market testers, and we appreciate your patience.