by Amber

Meet Herbert: Indoor Vertical Garden

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This isn’t the first compact hydroponic indoor vertical garden system for the wall we’ve seen enter the crowdfunding space. However, Herbert appears to offer a lot more to the gardener than looking artsy hanging around in the room. There’s a definite need for a system that pairs great engineering and aesthetic value with a keen focus on crop performance and space premiums. Because in many people’s homes today –  the walls are the only place it’s feasible to grow your own herbs and vegetables. The rest of your available space is already being used by just living.

So, this new indoor garden set up by Ponix Systems in Vienna definitely should interest a widening group of consumers. With everyone trying to do away with clutter, to enjoy a clean and open space. The wall is where it’s at – especially in an age where less is more. Just as long as the less doesn’t include your knowledge of what is in or on your food. There every little detail is needed, no matter how tiny ‘home’ happens to be.

Not many will disagree with Ponix Systems founder, Alex Penzias’ statement in his TedX Eroiler talk – that people want total food transparency. But the only way to know that much about what you eat… everything it’s experienced or been exposed to since the day it sprouted from a seed – is to grow it yourself.  And so, Alex and his team spent the last 3 years designing and perfecting Herbert. It’s a vertical hydroponic wall garden that every home has room for – urban, suburban, or rural.

Herbert: New Hydroponic Indoor Vertical GardenAnd they made sure to add a grow light that can adapt to the needs of the plants you grow and the harvest desired. Instead of having to switch the color of your grow light lamps for greens or young plants to another for flowers and fruit, Herbert’s powerful LEDs adjust. You tune them to the color of light needed. That certainly simplifies indoor gardening. It also reduces the number of interchangeable parts too. Where will you store the stuff that’s not in use at the moment?

The 60 watt LED fixture has 28 light emitting diodes and operates on specially developed light concepts, enabling you to enjoy the best results from whatever you decide to grow. The fixture rises 7.9″ (200mm) above the cabinet, is 11.8″ (300mm) wide, and protrudes from the wall 19.7″ (500mm).

The combination of hardware, software, and sensors in this new hydroponic wall garden make indoor gardening something everyone can do. The unit is capable of producing 80-90 heads of lettuce a year. That’s a fresh one ready for harvest every 4-5 days!

Of course, you can grow a wide variety of plants besides lettuces. Herbert can handle your favorite herbs, strawberries, and even chili peppers. Just bear in mind that certain plants group better together than others. That’s one thing you can’t bypass. It has to do with the nutrients you’ll need to supply in the system for the desired results, as much as it does the color of light you’ve tuned the LED fixture to provide. To grow both greens and herbs and fruiting plants simultaneously – you need 2 separate Herbert units. But they’re aware of that at Ponix – there are single, double, and triple unit packages.

The finish on Herbert’s cabinet is warm and natural. You have a choice of rich beech or pale poplar wood fronts. Not a thin decorative veneer either. It’s actually a solid plywood panel that increases the unit’s structural stability, which in turn gives you better durability over the long haul. The rest is made of white powder-coated aluminum. The unit isn’t tiny, but to grow this many plants to good harvest size, you don’t want a postage stamp garden. Its dimensions are: 32.3 x 22.0 x 4.5 inches (820 x 560 x 115 mm).

The polypropylene growing modules are totally food safe. The growth media in this system is a biodegradable horticultural sponge, so no worries about toxins there either. And for seed germination, there’s a handy humidity dome for each plant location to keep moisture in for faster sprouting. The system comes with 30 grow sponges, and refills will be available in several multi-pack sizes from the Ponix Systems store.

Though the makers are in Austria, the unit will work in any country. They’ve covered that issue from the start by including a 110 volt/230 volt power adapter. The pump in the nutrient reservoir that delivers irrigation automatically to all your indoor vertical garden plants uses only 5 watts of power. The water tank holds up to 6 liters.

You can monitor and adjust settings in your garden remotely over your smartphone. It’s programmed with a low-energy Bluetooth connection.  There’s a free app for both Android and iOS to keep you in touch with your garden. It also guides you through the growing process and connects you to other Herbert gardeners.

The world is obviously ready for a vertical indoor farm they can hang on the wall. Ponix Systems’ Kickstarter campaign launched on February 13th. It was 100% funded in 6 hours flat. They raised over $53,000 USD in less than a single day. Pretty amazing, right? Next, they unlocked the first stretch goal on February 16th went funding pledges were just shy of $106,000. I don’t know what time that was, but by 6:00 pm in New York – the amount was heading for $112,000.

Grab an Early Bird Special on Herbert at 40% off retail while you can from their Kickstarter page. You can also visit their website where retail sales will begin sometime after the October 2017 Early Bird deliveries. Winter perhaps – the best time to start an indoor garden! And you can connect with them on Facebook too.

Can’t recall seeing a crowdfunding campaign for indoor garden systems that was this wildly successful. Looking forward to checking on their fundraising progress between here and March 27, 2017, when the campaign ends. How high will it go in 35 more days?

Images courtesy of Ponix Systems.

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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.