Vertical gardening is slowly but surely becoming mainstream, even spreading to environments that one would not normally associate with much greenery like the work place. One such example are PodPlants which were developed specifically to cater to the office environment. PodPlants are 2.4m high sealed vertical garden modules that are designed to be free-standing and low maintenance. The units are made out of recycled ABS plastic but the walls of the unit are kept very thin making each PodPlants unit weigh in at only 20 kg which is unusually light given the overall size. They use a patented irrigation system developed by the creator where the exposed roots of the plants dangle within the device, and is based on the increasingly-prevalent aeroponics technology which feeds plants using an air-suspended mist of nutrient solution. One of the problems with many aeroponics setups is that they are also a breeding place for bacteria, but the inherent design of the patented PodPlants is designed to address this issue. As a result, plants grown in PodPlants are healthier allowing them to grow more vigourously. The PodPlants are very easy to install, with the only requirement that they be located next to a power socket – no additional piping or drainage is required as with other vertical gardens. One reason for the increasing popularity of plants in the work place is the recognition that they not only increase the health and wellbeing of their workers but also increase worker productivity as much as 15 percent! Now that’s a compelling reason for any company to install a vertical garden and why PodPlants are becoming so popular.
There are many ways to ‘grow your own’ using hydroponics but it is a fast moving area and new ideas are coming to the market all the time. The Grow Float is one such design that really shows how simple the technology can be. It essentially reduces hydroponics down to a receptacle for the nutrient-laden water and some floating baskets for the plants to grow in (you also need a water aerator but that is only used intermittently). The nice thing about the Grow Float is that it is so simple, you can almost just make your own DIY version, but part of the appeal of the official version is the ‘polished’ finish designed to look like a hip house plant that is comfortable on your kitchen countertop. It debuted on Kickstarter in 2014 and has since evolved into a small business for the creator. Another Kickstarter project, the GrowGrip, which is a new design for supporting plants in large-scale hydroponic systems is almost ridiculous in its simplicity. The GrowGrip units look like someone just did a quick cut out of some foam packaging (and maybe they have), but once you understand the idea behind it, you realise it really does solve an efficiency problem when growing lots of plants hydroponically, and it does so in such a simple way.