Gadgets 639

Published on October 12th, 2009 | by Greg


Prepara Makes Your Indoor Garden Grow (And Stay Fresh)

Gardening is tough in a city. Sure, there are various rooftops, if you get access to them, but pigeons and weather can make for an unhappy green thumb. Community gardens are nice, but often packed full around here. Which leaves indoor gardening- and we've taken a look before at some other solutions that make it easy and relatively painless.

Prepara differs in offering a broader product line- much of which has more to do with the kitchen than the tomato patch. With products like their ice cream 'cold keeper' and salad prep set, they must've decided to take cooking back to the, er, roots. That would explain the PowerPlant and Power Grow Lamp. Now, we should be clear- we weren't able to get a complete harvest from these items before review time- but were able to determine conclusively that the PowerPlant does not, in fact, provide any sort of exotic fusion electric energy. Instead, it products decent batches of plants like herbs, flowers, and salad greens.

Instead, the PowerPlant Professional uses similar methods as other aeroponic growing systems- grow sponges, nutrients, water, and the secret ingredient: electricity. We liked that, unlike the typical Aerogarden, you can use whatever seeds you like here from the get-go. The advantages are the same- no bugs, no soil to deal with, low maintenance and fast growth. The disadvantages are also similar- some noise due to circulating water and a motor, the need to keep it close to an outlet, and the relatively high initial equipment cost. The PowerPlant Pro is fairly small though (10×10×9), making it easy to hide or place near a window sill. They even make a 'Mini' version that is smaller still. With this version, you can grow six small plants. Overall, we liked the design of the product quite a bit.

Their instructions (available online) offer some great suggestions and unlike the AeroGarden, this one rotates, allowing you to use regular daylight if you wish. Of course, the sun is best used for powering solar panels, and any geek worth their growth nutrient will plop down a few extra dollars for the special Power Grow Lamp. As you might expect, especially off-season, plants don't quite get as much light indoors as they could use. That's where a grow lamp comes in handy, and this one offers the advantage of being able to work with most any plant but fits the PowerPlant Pro beautifully. Special bulbs make plants happy, year-round. The bulb leaks a fair bit though, more than some others, and the construction is pretty cheap- the base is lightweight (kind of good) but not very sturdy (bad), and the same goes for the reflector flaps. Results with the lamp though, were much better than just using sunlight, though our growing area isn't exactly the brightest spot. We didn't love that you need to use up another outlet though, meaning you'll lose two total to the light and grower. Assembly and setup are super-simple though.

Finally, once you have nurtured your basil, thyme, cilantro, dill, etc into beautiful fully-grown, ready-to-eat plants- you can turn to the Herb Savor. Basically a transparent top sealing in a small refillable water reservoir, it does the trick quite well. They claim that it can keep your herbs (and asparagus) fresh for up to three weeks- perhaps it was our fridges or something but we didn't get much more than two for many, though more than that for mint. The unit was a bit of a pain to clean and take apart, but simple to use, and there wasn't any flavor contamination. It was too small for bunches like cilantro without pruning and using some, but for 'grocery store' packets it worked perfectly. On the other hand, for basil it didn't work well (and isn't advertised as working, but we wanted to try it anyway)- and there are certainly cheaper methods involving a glass of water or even just a paper towel. For those with limited refrigerator space, or who don't use cook regularly enough and often lose a bunch of herbs, the Herb Savor can be a great tool.

All of these products are available both from Prepara themselves, and from some grocery and kitchen stores, as well as online from Amazon. The PowerPlant Professional is about $80, and the Power Grow Lamp adds about $50. The Herb Savor is $30- a cost-savings if you can manage to save just a few bunches of herbs.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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