Uri Zeevi is used to skepticism. People hear about his Seedo indoor home cultivator and they’re astonished.
“Nobody has seen anything like this,” he said from his office in Israel. “It’s really new, just coming onto the market.”
But someday, indoor home cultivators may be as common as dishwashers or backyard gas grills – indispensable home appliances that changed the way people live.
Without sunlight, outdoor space or experience, anyone could grow tomatoes, strawberries, gourmet lettuce, herbs and, yes, cannabis year-round inside a home cultivator.
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OK, maybe this ranks more with wine fridges than dishwashers in terms of popular appliances, but it’s an intriguing idea.
“The goal of our company is to make growing plants easy and accessible to anybody,” said Zeevi, Seedo’s president and CEO. “We also want to make it affordable.”
The plant that potentially could make Seedo an instant hit is cannabis. New laws in California and other states make home cultivation legal with restrictions.
Initially, Zeevi and his cohorts planned to introduce Seedo for sale in February. But after a demonstration video of the machine leaked out to the public, they had to push back their release date to summer.
“One of the extras from the video posted it on his Facebook page and it went viral,” Zeevi said. “We were quite amazed by the response to that exposure. We didn’t have high expectations; we were planning on producing low quantities. Now, we’re completely renegotiating everything, so we’ll be able to meet initial demand.”
Zeevi recently visited California to meet with potential manufacturers. About the size of a mini-fridge, the Seedo home cultivator will be offered online only by the company and cost more than $1,000, but the final price tag is still being tweaked, too.
“California is a perfect match for our product,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest there.”
Besides cannabis, indoor gardening – particularly of food – is on the rise. It’s a popular trend among millennials, who want fresh micro-greens and favorite herbs grown in their own kitchens.
Other hydroponic devices are appealing to that market. For example, the Urban Cultivator – praised by Martha Stewart and used by her test kitchen – grows eight varieties of herbs and micro-greens simultaneously indoors in the same space as a 24-inch dishwasher. It’s billed as a “fully automated kitchen garden” and costs about $2,800.
While marijuana has given Seedo a lot of preliminary buzz, Zeevi envisions his home cultivator as a more universal growing machine, producing tomatoes and peppers in winter or cilantro and strawberries in August. Its interior lights are more intense than those used for herbs and micro-greens, allowing it to grow flowering plants with success.
“It grows tomatoes very nice,” Zeevi said. “From seed, a cherry tomato will start bearing after 60 to 90 days. Then, you can harvest 15 to 20 ripe tomatoes every day for 60 days. Strawberries are great, too; they’re fresh, full of flavor and (grown) without pesticides. It’s foolproof.”
The idea behind Seedo started with lettuce, he explained. The cultivator’s inventors started in the hydroponic lettuce business, producing thousands of heads indoors under lights in controlled conditions.
What if that same concept could be scaled down for home use, one technician wondered. After much experimentation, the Seedo home cultivator was born.
“Growing hydroponically, it’s science,” Zeevi explained. “It’s very precise. … This is a machine, so there’s no place for mistakes.”
The self-contained unit needs little attention, he said. Through a tube system, water is added as needed without opening the door or disturbing the plants. Fans circulate fresh air into the unit, so plants can breathe.
“Seedo is hermetically closed, so disease and pests can’t get to plants when they’re inside (the unit),” he said. “You just leave them alone. The plants are saying, ‘Don’t bother me; I want to grow!’ ”
All the gardener has to do is add water – and wait for harvest.