Herb, The In-Door Garden


I announced in our family chat that Linda and I had decided to get a pet. We had gone through this discussion many years ago with the children (who wanted a dog). We eventually settled on fish. More recently, my son and daughter-in-law had two dogs, which they took with them when they moved out late last year. It was my thought that a pet might help carry us through the pandemic. My wife and I agreed that dogs were too much for us. We thought about a cat, but they scratch furniture. As we did many years ago, we went through the list of things and eventually came to an in-door garden.

Herb, resting peacefully on a protected shelf
Herb, resting peacefully on a protected shelf

But how, one might ask, can this piece of technology be considered a pet? To be clear, I don’t think of this as being simply the technology platform, rather it is the combination of both the technology and the plants. With that I can justifiably claim there is life. The plants grow. They require attention, feeding etc. They can get sick or even die. They can communicate how they feel. But I think the thing that confirmed acknowledging this duality a “pet” was when I fired up the in-door garden it asked that I give it a name. I’m calling it Herb.

The platform does have several features including: 9 pods for growing plants (I’ll be growing herbs); dimming 50 watt LED [full-spectrum] grow lights; various automations such as light timers, water pump controls, reminders and useful messages; a high resolution touch screen control panel; and wifi so I can connect via an iPhone App to control it from near by and afar. The marketing brochure claims that the machine “is a fully contained in-home garden system, automatically delivering everything your plants need to thrive… [it is] the ultimate countertop garden.“ I liked that the focus was on “thriving”. So while the technology might be the body of Herb, the soul will be in the plants.

An in-door system offers a year-round solution. The out-door approach faces several challenges, but may be the most concerning for me is pollution. Not just air pollution, but soil. Sadly, the prevalence of wood treated with various chemicals has left a mark on the soil, which I prefer to avoid. Herb is a hydroponic garden, which I think is a cleaner solution for inside the house.

Herb’s Control Panel: a concise display of the status of various functions and modes.
Herb’s Control Panel: a concise display of the status of various functions and modes.

So will the savings realised by growing my own herbs offset the initial cost of the equipment. Probably not, but that only adds to the evidence that this is a pet.


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