Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why get a vegetable basket when you can have a whole plant?

Today's item comes from the beloved SkyMall. Man, ever since I forgot my ipod on a trip to Spain (that's a LONG flight of listening to Swiss Air's interesting collection of music they call 'Rock'), I've been in love with SkyMall. It's shopping and comedy all in one. If it came with a decent snack (no thanks, no more dog biscuit like cookies for me), it'd be the perfect companion. Not that I know anyone who has ever purchased anything from it... but it's like window shopping on Newbury (for you Boston folks). You know you won't buy anything, but it's a little fun to look anyways.

If you've surfed these pages of dog stairs and water balloon travel weights and strange lawn decor (wow, there are some great lawn sculptures, so classy) then you know what I'm talking about. This is a treasure trove of ridiculousness. So as I was browsing I found this lovely kitchen item...

So here's the schtick. You buy this system for around $130-$200 dollars, you buy nutrient pellets , seed packets ($20 alone) and watering accessories, you pay for the electricity to run it, and tada - you can grow stuff in your house instead of outside where God already pays for the sun and the rain and the dirt.

The theory here is actually great. You want garden fresh homegrown food all year long? You got it. But the cost/benefit analysis (glamorous business speak for... is it worth it?) is weak for a few reasons.

1) If you have a yard, you don't need this. Even in the winter, you can build a coldframe or do some growing on a heated porch, if need be. So, these must be for those of us who are apartment dwellers. You know why most of us live in apartments? Because we can't afford a place with a yard! So $200 is probably not in my budget to grow just one tomato plant, or a jug of petunias.

2) I live in a small space (as most apartments tend to be)... where would you suggest I put this contraption? Perhaps onto of my microwave. My jalepenos would be both organic and radioactive from all the heat lamp waves and microwaves. They'd probably be hotter that way though... which would be a slight bonus.

3) To make one salad, you'd need a whole factory of these things. One for lettuce, one for tomatoes, one for peppers or other veggies... and if you can afford 4 or 5 of these (close to a grand), I'm pretty sure you can afford to just buy fancy organic tomatoes from Whole Foods for around $7 a bunch.

4) Where does that top part attach to anything? Does it dangle from the ceiling? Do i have to plug this in? I feel like the website leads you believe that this piece is magic or a hovercraft. I mean, look at this picture. Does the tomato plant have a grow lamp halo? 'Cause there is certainly no cord going from the ceiling above the kitchen island to this device. (if it does not hover in mid-air, i'm totally suing for fall advertising... someone photoshopped out the cord)

5) Favorite quote from a review... "If you are looking for a smart low maint. garden right there in your kitchen" .... who is really looking for a garden in their kitchen without being solicited by this product? No one. Because that'd be like looking for your frying pan out by the back fence. It's not where you're supposed to keep it.

6) No dirt.... but you have nutrient pellets. Soilent green anyone? If that is not creepy, I'm not really sure what is.

1 comment:

  1. the top part is actually held up by a post coming from the bottom in the back. my dad found one of these at a house he was cleaning out after wife died, they were old and bought everything they saw on tv. i took the thing home thinking i could put it to some use anyways, and its just sitting there. i think you could get away with just using foam or the water gel things in the little cups, instead of their expensive pellets. and just put normal seeds in them. it does have to be plugged up, two plugs actually, the hood has a plug and the base has a separate plug. you are supposed to use plant food nutrient drops or something, because you would be growing in just water but i dont see it necessary. and it doesnt take up too much space, tiny apartment dwellers might have an issue, but it can be plugged in anywhere in the house, so the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, living room etc. if you had a foot and ahlaf of space you could squeeze it in.

    overall i dont see the point, why not just have a pot and grow something in it? i dont see why you have to have it plugged it, just put the pot next to a window. but i i guess the uv can be on the whole time and grow the plant more consistently and you can have the seasonal veggies any time of year you wanted. but its still seems a lot to go thru for some lettuce or tomato. you are right it would take a few of these to have enough for a continuous salad.