These days a lot of life is programmable. But as an avid gardener, I thought that surely nurturing seeds into little green shoots and then full-fledged fruits and flowers would require a nondigital green digit for years to come.
I was wrong. Plants, it turns out, can be activated.
A battery-powered planter pot called Click and Grow out of Estonia lets you grow real, living plants almost without lifting a finger. Even the vernacular around gardening comes fully updated -- sowing a seed can now be described as "inserting a cartridge," watering the soil is "refilling the reservoir," and gardening wisdom gleaned from years of loving dedication is now embedded in a chip.
The system is actually pretty simple. It comes in two parts: the flowerpot (includes electronics, sensors, a pump, water reservoir, and batteries) and the cartridge (includes seeds, nutrients, and software that instructs that pot to create the ideal environment for the specific seed to grow in and thrive). The system uses aeroponics (air and mist) instead of soil.
After inserting the cartridge into the pot (if you know how to use a printer you're way ahead of the game), all that remains is the very occasional refilling of the water reservoir (see how easy it is to adopt this new speak?).
Think it's still too much to handle? Don't worry, a little flashing light will tell you when to refill (typically only once a month) or when to recharge the four AA batteries (typically only once every eight months).
When the plant dies, an event now known as "reaching the end of its life cycle," simply order a new cartridge to replace the old one. The system, which has been retailing in Europe since 2011 and hit the U.S. market today, will set you back $60, with refills (basil, thyme, peppers, oh my) coming in at $19.90.
And if you'd like your indoor garden to boast its intelligence for you (after all, no one likes a braggart), don't worry -- the Click and Grow containers look like sleek little external hard drives.