Miele has branched out beyond its usual home appliances lines with a venture into home growing technology.
The appliances company has gone into business with Agrilution, which makes an indoor gardening system geared towards people with no outside space, or those who want a high-tech, low fuss way to grow their own kitchen herbs and salad.
Its product is basically a way for people to engage in small-scale vertical farming: an optimised growing cabinet. You can grow everything you need for a green smoothie; or all the greens you’d need for a salad; microgreens such broccoli cress; or all of your culinary herbs. It’s a self-contained system that doesn’t require soil.
The business venture was publicised at smart home show IFA. The move makes sense, not only as a complement to Miele’s existing kitchen appliances, but also as a sign of the company’s ability to seek out new products likely to interest consumers.
The Plantcube is a product that delivers on a lot of topical concerns.
Freshly grown vegetables are likely to be more vitamin-rich and have a lower carbon footprint than their shop-bought counterparts. And there’s no need for pesticides when growing them. Plus, there’s the fact that, during the pandemic, gardening became the focus of renewed interest for many people – which is all very well if you have a garden.
For the rest of us, home growing tech is an attractive idea.
Agrilution’s product has three parts: the app, seed mats and the Plantcube itself (the growing cabinet). When you buy seeds, they’re already integrated into the growing mat. Place the seed mats into the cabinet, fill the water reservoir and follow the directions on the app.
It's simple, attractive and likely to appeal to tech-lovers and health-conscious consumers. But there’s a catch: the price. The Plantcube costs €2,904, which will constitute a fairly high salad budget for most of us.
It’s also only available in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands at this stage. It’ll be rolling out more widely in the future. But if you’ve got the budget and you live in central Europe, you can buy it straight from Agrilution’s website. You can choose between a black and a white model, and can also buy a wide variety of seeds.
If you like the idea but not the price tag, an Aerogarden could be what you’re looking for. I had one of these for years and it was brilliant for growing culinary plants. It's more versatile than the Plantcube, as you can also choose from a wider variety of plants – including tomatoes.
The Aerogarden Sprout costs £69.95 from Amazon in the UK, with free delivery. You can buy it in black or white and it has space to grow three plants. It comes with a gourmet seed kit to kick off with: basil, parsley and dill.