A 'Roomba' for weeds

The inventor of the Roomba robot vacuum, Joe Jones, has come up with something new: a solar-powered weeding robot called the Tertill. It will patrol your home garden daily looking for weeds to cut down.

How does it know what's a weed and what's a plant?

Tertill has a very simple method: weeds are short, plants are tall. A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill's shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill’s shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter.

Get your own weed-killing robot for $249 through the Tertill's Kickstarter.

(Business Insider) Read the rest

Trippy and gorgeous night sky petunias look like tiny universes

Does your garden of earthly delights have room for some out-of-this-world petunias? Night Sky petunias are a cultivar by Selecta, developed in part at Mississippi State University's trial gardens. Read the rest

Guy makes good money farming in other people's yards

Justin Rhodes profiles an urban market gardener who leases other people's residential yards for planting produce, which he harvests and sells up and down the east coast of the United States. He makes over $5,000 a month. Read the rest

Spectacular garden created from plants rescued from the compost pile

Pearl Fryar of Bishopville, South Carolina created this incredible garden mostly from plants he saved from a local nursery's compost dump.

Ironically, according to Great Big Story, "When he first moved to the small town in the 1980s, he was almost unable to build his house because neighbors feared that as an African American, he wouldn’t keep up his yard."

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This garden can kill you

The delightful grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England contain such alluring settings as the Poison Garden, home to more than 100 species of plants that are deadly to humans. Please meet the head gardener, Trevor Jones, who must wear protective gear when he's digging in the dirt.

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Hurray for hose bib extenders

We have a potted lemon tree in out backyard. I water it by filling a watering can from the garden hose. The spigot for the garden hose is against the house, behind a scratchy bush. I didn't want to get scratched by the bush any longer, so I bought this Hose Bib Extender on Amazon for $30, along with a 6 foot hose to attach it to the existing spigot. Now I have an easy-to-access spigot and look how green the lemon tree looks!

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Meet your robot gardener

The FarmBot Genesis is an open-source robot gardener for home food production. You design your mini-farm with their app and then the Raspberry Pi-powered robot handles the rest, from planting to watering, weeding to harvesting. The FarmBot Genesis sounds like the evolutionary descendant of Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana's groundbreaking 1994 telerobotic artwork, the TeleGarden:

FarmBot Genesis:

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73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden by Niki Jabbour, illustrations by Anne Smith, Elayne Sears and Mary Ellen Carsley Storey Publishing 2014, 272 pages, 8 x 10 x 0.8 inches (softcover) $15 Buy a copy on Amazon

Fittingly, the layout of Groundbreaking Food Gardens is similar to a community garden. Within the landscape of this one book, readers find 73 distinct plots, each neatly contained, each with its own character in the beds of text and image. In it, edible gardening expert Niki Jabbour curates 73 thematically diverse illustrated plans contributed by master food growers and writers with unendingly fresh perspectives. Each mini-chapter opens with three or four cornerstones of the design therein, and these points become headers for each section, like garden markers for the reader.

Even the most bibliophilic gardener has to admit, it’s hard to find a good gardening book that says or does something new. But within the first 24 hours of bringing home Groundbreaking Food Gardens, I had filled it with every bit of scrap paper in our bookmark pile. Though more of a design lookbook than a how-to, it still offers plenty of information. Woven throughout the plans, there are both practical tips and historical gardening factoids to appeal to new and seasoned gardeners alike. You wouldn’t use a bean pole to support a squash, and so the scaffolding of each design chapter changes slightly to reflect the 73 unique concepts. Read the rest

Grow plants to support your country in this wartime gardening game

Gardening games tend to be soothing cycles of repetition: You plant, you water, you harvest, and then you do it again. You play them to relax, which is probably why so few of those games are set during wars.

But that's exactly where A Good Gardener begins, by asking you to tend a small garden in the midst of a terrible conflict. You're a captured deserter in this unspecified war, assigned to grow crops for the troops in a small, open air compound that looks like it once had a roof. Perhaps it was blown up? All you can see beyond it is sky, and the top of a deserted building in the distance, its windows broken.

The experience of the game is simple: every day you collect a box of seeds, plant them, and water them. (Don't forget to refill your watering can at the spout on the days when it rains.) As the days pass, you'll see different crops take different shapes until they reach their final form, and then your mustachioed supervisor will come to collect them. On the days when he arrives to gather the fruits of your labor, he'll often make offhand, ominous statements about what's happening in the world outside, or even your own mysterious past.

Who are you really, and what exactly are you enabling with your green thumb? That's the question that lingers over your peaceful daily routine of weeding and watering, and if you're a good enough gardener, perhaps you'll learn the truth. Read the rest

Plant a garden with a cute little ghost

Pol Clarissou's Lil Ghost Garden, made for the virtual pet-themed PetJam, is a pleasant desktop companion. I love the design of his ghost character, a sympathetic looming moonface whose shadow body trundles dutifully around what begins as a sparse garden. Read the rest

Greens grown in space are now on Space Station astronaut menu

Crew members on Expedition 44, including NASA's one-year astronaut Scott Kelly, harvested some "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce Monday, Aug. 10, from the Veggie plant growth system on the nation’s orbiting laboratory.

DIY: 20 easy ways to hack and improve your garden

Use a punctured water bottle to hydrate plants more efficiently. Turn a kids toy truck into a succulent planter. Spray paint chicken wire and then mold it into striking backyard decorations. With summer just weeks away, here are 20 visual ideas that will get you outdoors this weekend while creating a more efficient and beautiful garden. Read the rest

Space Buckets: DIY indoor gardening units

A "space bucket" enthusiast named Agustin let me know about a DIY community that grows chives, basil, dill, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cannabis in stacked 5 gallon plastic buckets equipped with lighting and ventilation systems. The photo gallery of builds is impressive. Read the rest

Meet Sedgewick the Monarch Caterpillar—and find out what you can do to save his species

Danaus plexippus is in trouble. David Mizejewski raised one to demonstrate its life cycle, and explains what you can do to help them thrive

Air plants look and act like they belong on another planet

A few weeks ago while strolling through a farmer’s market in Los Angeles, I came across a vendor cart selling exotic plants that looked like they belonged on another planet. Masses of long green tentacles, feathery white shoots, and spheres of soft silver green spikes that looked like holiday sparklers drew me to the beautiful cart. The vendor told me she was selling air plants (tillandsias). Not very lucky with houseplants, I was hesitant to buy one, until the vendor explained how simple they were to take care of: give them some squirts from a spray bottle a few times a week. I bought two. Coincidentally, a few days later, Timber Press sent me a copy of Air Plants for a possible Wink review. Perfect timing!

Because air plants don’t live in soil or substrate and only need to be misted (or dunked a few times a week, as the book explains), caring for them can be as simple or artistic as you want. Strategically attach them to a screen, create modern art by perching them on wire cubes, craft a year-long wreath, use air plants as living hair ornaments, create a futuristic terrarium… A truly handy and fun read, with clear pretty photos and step-by-step how to projects, this book is not only a guide on choosing and caring for air plants, but also gives us amazingly creative ideas on air plant crafting and design.

Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias

by Zenaida Sengo (author) and Caitlin Atkinson (photographer)

Timber Press

2014, 224 pages, 7.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches (paperback)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. Read the rest

World's Strangest Flowers

Sierra magazine selected "7 of the World's Strangest Flowers." Here is a video of the Touch-Me-Not.

"Garden apartment" redefined in new green apartment building

Architect/developer Sebastian Mariscal designed and is expecting to build a 44-unit apartment building in densely-populated Boston where most of the space you'd expect to be used for parking spots is instead given over to a variety of gardens. There's a 7,000 public garden on the ground level and a roof that's 70 percent dedicated to community gardening. Meanwhile, each living unit includes a 144 square foot "outdoor room… full of vegetation."

"The Apartment Complex of Tomorrow—0 Parking Spots, 46 Personal Garden Spaces" (TakePart)

While Mariscal's original design only had six parking spaces, meant for rentals, and he only planned to rent to tenants who didn't own cars, the community was concerned that tenants would own cars anyway and park them on the street. So the architect added 35 spots to his plans and has apparently received preliminary approval to build from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. (Universal Hub, thanks Lis Riba!) Read the rest

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