4.21.2008

Gardenaut Review: Kids' Recycled Indoor Gardening Kit

Green Toys, whose kids' Dinnerware and Cooking Set was reviewed on Z Recommends today, was kind enough to send us their Indoor Gardening Kit to try out. The whole thing is made out of recycled milk jugs, which is what turned us on to the company and spurred us to request the products for review. The company is clearly onto something good and we're excited to watch them grow.

Green Toys' Indoor Gardening Kit comes with three pots, a plastic spade, a tray with a great molded plastic design, appropriately-sized peat pellets, and three packets with a few seeds each of zinnias, basil, and sunflowers. The futuristic planting method is no-muss, no-fuss: Drop a pellet in a pot, fill with water, wait 30 minutes, fluff up your new peat, press seeds into the soil, and your hands are finally dirty!

Our only quibble with the overall design is that the pots don't have drainage holes, but this is a feature imposed by design, as the all-inclusive, soak-the-peat-pellet approach wouldn't work with pots that drain. But pots need to drain, particularly if they are plastic rather than ceramic - unglazed ceramic can at least wick away moisture gradually through the clay.

There is, of course, a broader issue that comes into play with a product from a company on a mission to green up our lives: Recycled plastic really can't compete, as far as environmental responsibility is concerned, with fired ceramic pots, can they? This inescapable fact makes this set less attractive to their potential audience than their gorgeous kids' play tea set, sandbox toys, or dinnerware and cooking set. But then again, there really doesn't seem to be anything else out there like this; the closest analogues are the science-kit-style "watch plants grow" cut-away view boxes, with dome terrariums coming in a distant third.

All in all, this is a really nicely-designed little kit - it's functional, attractive, and easy to use. If you're already gardening with your own child, the Indoor Gardening Kit probably isn't for you - just grab some pots and seeds and get to work. But if you want to encourage a budding gardener whose family doesn't have a lot of interest or commitment, know an apartment-bound kid who would like to watch stuff grow, or need a nice gift for a child you can't just take to your local nursery, Green Toys offers a thoughtful all-in-one option to give kids an easy, positive experience with growing things on their own.

108 comments:

Brian said...

I don't know the numbers, but ceramic pots certainly consume a significant amount of fuel when they are being fired. On the other hand, the hydrocarbons in reused plastic have already been 'used' once, so the incremental hydrocarbon use to make the pots is small. Again, I don't know the numbers but the greenest alternative is not necessarily obvious. Now if we're talking asthetics, ceramics wins no contest.

tj sondermann said...

One of the other issues re: the green demographic, is the use of peat pellets. Not entirely sustainable, depending on whom you ask. http://tinyurl.com/3vmebf

Jeremiah McNichols said...

@Brian: Interesting point. Makes me wonder. But actually, those pots are pretty cute - not sure our flash photography did them justice.

@TJ: Yes, I almost put that in the post, but felt like a hypocrite - we have three half wine barrels full of peat at this very moment, as the supposedly perfect growing medium for our blueberries (in Texas, we consider it a badge of honor to succeed at growing them). Beyond that, we pretty much avoid peat for the reasons you mentioned (An aside to anyone reading: Peat is found in bogs and grows very slowly, and it is harvested at a drastically unsustainable rate and cannot replenish itself in the altered conditions, with the ecosystem suffering as a result.) and we gave up on peat pots long ago.

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