Growing your own food could be as simple as painting by numbers. A new kit on Kickstarter hopes to make gardening incredibly easy by stripping away many of the challenges that make growing veggies intimidating, like designing a garden space, weeding, and figuring out which seeds to buy.
Nourishmat is a four-by-six-foot tarp with holes cut out, labeled so that gardeners know where to deposit seeds for their carrots or radishes. But unlike gardening with regular seeds, the clay-crusted seedballs that come with Nourishmat allow gardeners to simply push the balls into the ground instead of digging and planting. A built-in irrigation tube with a hookup to a hose makes it easy to keep plants moist.
"The Nourishmat was designed to be multi-sensory and intuitive," explains Phil Weiner, the CEO of Earth Starter, the startup behind the mat. "The layout of the plants revolves around companion planting. For example, the bugs that like marigolds are the same bugs that love to eat the bugs that love to eat tomatoes." Planting the two in proximity helps keep the tomatoes pest-free. Weiner says that research from Earth Starter’s 22-state beta test have made sure the crop guide is relevant for growers around the country year-round.
With an infusion of Kickstarter funds, Weiner expects that "by 2014, users will be able to go online, select their zip code—we will tell them what grows best in that location—choose a size and based on seedball inventory we will use a companion planting method to automatically position and space the plants." The mat will sell for around $65 without irrigation and $80 with irrigation—a price point that could put the product in range of schoolyard gardening projects.
"Right now we are working with the San Francisco Unified School District and the Mayor’s office in SF to work on using our curriculum and the Nourishmat as an educational tool. It reduces the intimidation factor because all of the tools are already laid out," says Weiner. "It’s all about cultivating gardeners, not gardens."