For those without their own garden, growing your own herbs and vegetables indoors can be a challenge to say the very least. You buy a pre-grown pot with the best of intentions, only to find out it's gone horribly limp a week later when you actually need to use some basil.
Now a team of students from Bristol is looking to make the process a little easier with a product they're calling the LettUs Grow. They've produced a small chamber which provides everything salad vegetables need to grow.
The idea is to produce a device that you can put on a kitchen counter and more or less forget about. The inbuilt LED lights provide the salad with the correct mix of light to allow it to photosynthesise, and the soil-free aeroponic chamber keeps the plant watered, and pushes a notification to a website when you need to top up its water levels.
A waste of good salad
The team's primary aim is to reduce wasted energy, and the LettUs achieves this in two ways. Firstly, by growing salad inside the home you avoid all the energy and pollution produced by transporting salad from the farm to the shop and finally back to your home.
The invention also reduces waste by keeping salad fresher for longer, and so allowing it to be actually used rather than wilting away in a plastic bag in the fridge. According to one survey, in the UK 45% of salad purchased is later thrown away.
The invention is not limited to salad either according to Jack Farmer, one of the members of the team, "The technology doesn't limit us to just salad, it can be used to grow most non-root vegetables. Currently the limiting factor is, instead, the size of the products."
Farmer says that if this first product proves to be successful, then this could lay the foundations for future, larger, products for larger vegetables and herbs like tomatoes and chilli plants.
The team has just reached their crowdfunding target and are currently competing in the startup competition VOOM which will give them the opportunity to pitch the product to Richard Branson.
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Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.