Urban Gardening Design Brings Out the Gardener In All of Us “Everyone knows a few people that are plant killing experts, but still wish that they could have plants at home,” Rasmus Tretow from the Botanium team tells us when we got in touch to explore their fascinating urban-gardening product. Botanium is the elegant pot that waters itself using an automatic pump, and replaces conventional soil with a porous growing medium for a faster, more fruitful crop of home produce – perfect for the food fanatic or the armchair botanist. Rasmus is one part of the Stockholm-based trio of friends, along with Johannes Roselius and Mario Sanchez, whose background in product development and industrial design, coupled with a flair for urban gardening, first planted the Botanium design seed. This two-part plant-pot comprises a water tank in the bottom, and a container of small clay pebbles in the top, both of which combine into a sleek minimalist vase. Botanium controls its nutrient-rich watering system via an automatic pump and sprinkler system – users simply check Botanium’s water-level, and re-fill when necessary. Botanium has sprouted into a sleek design suitable for modern kitchens, more than doubling its original 500,000 SEK Kickstarter goal. But then, who’s surprised, when Botanium’s whole function is swift and successful growth? Specs: • Dimensions: 250 x 136 mm (9.8” x 5.3”) • Voltage: 5V DC from AC adapter • Retail price is approximately $79 The Plus: Are you an avid chef yourself? Have you used any Botanium edible greens in anything you have cooked? Rasmus Tretow: I grow a lot of chilli from which I make powder and sauces. Recently I started making fermented chilli sauce as well – it tastes amazing! I have also been growing basil for making pesto. TP: What is your favourite thing to grow in the Botanium? RT: Chilli – because it lasts so long, tastes good and looks good. When you cook, you don’t need so much at once, unlike when growing salad and some herbs. TP: Tell us about the inspiration behind the project. RT: There are many self-watering products out there, but some lack good design, and others are lacking in function or in usability. We wanted to make something that brings out the grower in everyone, yet also fits in your home and takes the guesswork out of growing. TP: Was it important to you that it have the stripped-back sleekness that it does? RT: We believe that good design is about finding, and removing, all the unnecessary elements until you are left with that which has a clear purpose, is aesthetic, and is easy to use. TP: Tell us how you came upon that shape, was it solely for function? RT: The shape is derived from the required functionality. First, the growing space needs to be on top of the tank for gravity to drain the water back into the tank. Second, the water tank needs to be bigger than the growing space to make the water last as long as possible (plant size correlates with root ball size, and a smaller plant needs less water), which led to the large base. Third, the top part has to be detachable so that you can refill or pour away water. TP: Is it possible to grow Botanium plants all year round? RT: Yes, as long as you provide the necessary light, which in turn depends on where you live. Here in Sweden you need artificial lights most of the year, but it’s no problem – if you don’t grow big plants you can use a standard CFL or fluorescent bulb, and harvest all year round.