Published on October 12th, 2009 | by Greg0
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.