Design Student working on product idea for gardening.

Gates Mills, OH

Hi my name is Evan and I am a design student trying to come up with a product to help beginner to expert gardeners with the process of growing plants, fruits in a garden or greenhouse. It would be best to explain my idea by giving you an example of how you could use it. Please remember that this is very rough idea of what the product would be like as I am still in the concept phase. Thanks.

The user opens up the box to find the Hand held device with a color LCD touch screen, seeds for several different plants, earphones and location markers with embedded RFID chips. The handheld device would also have a docking station to connect to a computer. The idea is that when the user starts planting fruits, flowers, ect. They would then place a RFID in the ground right with the seed.(An RFID is a chip that stores information you enter, and then can retrieve the information later wirelessly.)

The user would input what plant he just put the RFID chip next to. Now when the user ever comes back to that plant he waves his device over the plant and up pops a history of the plant, how to take care of it, the history of the users interaction with that plant, ect. The device would also be able to play mp3 files, which would allow the user to hook up to the internet and download instructional lessons, different methods of planting, care, ect. The device could even give visual references for the user.

This idea is just not limited to outdoor use. You could use the system for greenhouses, or even inside the house with “smart pots.” Maybe you have smart pots that have RFID integrated chips. The main thing I want to concentrate on is building this idea into an entire system for home gardening.

I would really appreciate any answers to the following questions, and any comments about my idea

What is your biggest problem with gardening and the gardening process?

What is the hardest thing to remember when gardening?

Do you document plants as they grow?

How do you remember what plants you planted?

What are the most common things you need to remember when taking care of a garden, ie nutrition, type of fertilizer, ect.

What are the most important things you need to do before starting to plant seeds for your garden?

Are there different ways you need to treat plants that you grow outside then in a greenhouse?

Thanks for your time, this will really help me out.

Alvin, TX(Zone 9a)

The biggest problem with gardening is patience. Just like a child plants take time to grow and mature. They also need nurturing,care, and training (pruning, staking, cultivating, feeding, watering, and weeding). Like good parents everyone wants their children (plants) to be the best, biggest, and prettiest. None of these things happen overnight, you plant and wait. When the plants emerge you begin the process of raising your plant. Like each child, each plant is different and requires more or less hands on help. You cannot lump every plant of the same species into the same care requirements. There are too many variables which can effect an individual plant. Sun exposure, soil nutrition, soil drainage, soil type, and wind can all change the way an individual plant grows and the way it must be cared for. Electronics can't be programmed to imitate what the human brain can perceive when the gardener looks at his/her plant and determines the care that particular plant needs on that particular day or season.
Electronics, RFID chips and hand held scanners will not be used by 99.9% of the home gardeners. They things we need to know and record can be easier recorded with a pencil on our big old garden calendar.
Electronic devices might find a use in large commercial growers greenhouses and/or fields for tracking planting dates, shipping, tracking of shipments, insuring adequate feeding and watering. But for most gardeners the pleasure of planting and cultivating would be turned into work if we tried to document and record every step we took in the producing flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc.
I hope that gives you some direction in your quest.

Mortsel, Belgium

I would use it!
With a collection of about 500 different fruit bushes and trees, it would be very helpful.
About 80 Prunus varieties, (Apricots, Plums, Peaches, Almonds, Cherries, a.s.o., 10 Cornel berry trees, 20 apple varieties, 10 Kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta) varieties, Silver berries (Eleagnus multiflora), 12 Grapevines,
As this initiative is already from 2006, I really wonder how the idea evolved. Today there are many RFID systems in use, but I would be interested in something like Spirk described.
I hope he was NOT discouraged by the only reaction! That was a shame!

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