Imagine an indoor garden system that is more like an outdoor garden. As in, you simply prep for planting, make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry, and soon you’re harvesting great tasting fresh food and herbs. Sans the weeding, of course. And no matter what the weather is doing, you can garden year around.
Yes, there seems to be a constant stream of small indoor garden gadgets in the works or entering the market anymore. But they aren’t all the same. Fresh Square, for instance, has unique features. The team is also different from the more recent indoor garden system products – it was developed by a biologist and an MBA.
It’s the only indoor garden system in the world that needs no additions of fertilizers or nutrients. No hassle indoor growing, without the complexity of worrying about what crops do best with certain nutrients. Plant nutrition arrives with your system, already present in the ‘smart, living soil’. Not as a slow-release, or continual-feed pelleted synthetic fertilizer. Fresh Square offers totally organic crop nutrients that only need refreshing when sowing a new crop. It can support healthy plants for up to 6 months.
Some would call this a passive hydroponic system, but it doesn’t use hydroponic soil for growing. Others might call it a self-irrigating planter, but Fresh Square is more than that. The growing medium was purposefully developed for this particular indoor garden design with the help of the agricultural college at the University of Liege in Belgium. It contains organic food waste, compost, microbes, and other plant nutrients from all natural, sustainable resources.
Co-founders, Solène Guere and Lou Bugeia-Gane, wanted to make it easy to succeed for any newcomer to growing. But they wanted them to be able to reconnect with nature, not rely on their smartphone. They also wanted it to be totally natural, fully sustainable, affordable by most people, and produce a harvest really fast.
Crops grown in the Fresh Square indoor garden system provide a harvest of fast-growing crops like lettuces and herbs in just 3 weeks. Naturally, fruiting plants, like cherry tomatoes take longer. Still, ripe tomatoes ready to eat in just 2 months, is fast. Fruit always takes much longer than greens and young herbs.
All parts of the Fresh Square system are either recyclable or biodegradable. It’s made of aluminum, food-safe plastics, and natural wood. The design is modern and stylish, but well-grounded with the inclusion of natural wood. Definitely not a unit that one would feel unwelcome in any room.
It’s also very water conscious. Fresh Square automatically irrigates the garden every day, but only needs refilling about every 3 weeks. It is designed using the natural wicking (capillary action) of water into plant root systems found in soils. And in doing so, the energy used by the indoor garden system is greatly reduced, making it highly sustainable, and low cost in year around use.
The sunlight-mimicking LED grow lighting is very low in energy demands (30 watts). Yet, it is powerful enough to grow all herbs, greens, and small fruiting plants. It offers plants all the wavelengths needed for every stage of growth. The light is fully adjustable, putting the energy close to the plants from start to finish. And it automatically turns on in the morning, and shuts off at night. The light cycle can be manually interrupted without resetting the light cycle.
You can use the Fresh Square indoor gardening system as a single counter top unit, but it was designed to stack. As with any garden, it’s best to do some crop planning, grouping plants that grow at a similar pace, and to similar heights per unit for best results. Light energy is one of the most important parts of successful indoor growing.
Designed with available space in today’s small homes and urban apartments in mind, it won’t be difficult for everyone to find room for a Fresh Square garden. Each unit measures 21″ long, 14 inches deep, and 20″ tall (51 cm long, 36 cm deep, and 50 cm high). You can also instantly create a wall garden simply by stacking one or more columns of units on top of each other, daisy-chaining up to 4 units together. No extra parts needed.
You can grow up to 12 plants per unit, all one crop, or an assortment. Unlike hydroponic gardens, there’s no need to group plants according to nutrient solutions. The Fresh Square indoor gardening system supports all crops the same way outdoor garden soil does.
There is a phone app to help gardeners stay on track of when to refill the reservoir, how soon each crop will be ready to harvest, info about everything they’re growing, and connecting with others in the Fresh Square gardening community.
At the moment, Fresh Square is collecting crowdfunding via Kickstarter. It’s available to anyone in the US, Canada, the EU, and Switzerland. On Tuesday, the French company had raised over half the money needed to fully fund their campaign. As of today, they’ve got 10 more days in their campaign period, and early adopters can save a lot with a pledge of $122 USD (€199). Add on additional garden units for just a few dollars/euros more. According to one European news source, they do already have a contract with a French retailer for an initial 100 unit order.