Elecrow GrowCube review (part 1) – Will it give you green thumb powers?

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CROWDFUNDING REVIEW – I love growing things.  Flowers, grass, veggies, you name it.  While I’m pretty good at growing things outdoors, I’m a lot less good at growing things indoors, which is why I am excited about an upcoming Kickstarter by Elecrow.  Their new gadget is called the GrowCube, and it’s an automatic watering system for up to four indoor plants.

What is it?

The GrowCube is a small white cuboid that looks like a cross between Eve and a mini PC case.  It claims it can simultaneously and independently water up to four indoor plants, using criteria defined by an app on my smartphone.  Challenge accepted!

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I promptly went out and bought four pots, 3 small plants (a columbine, some ivy, and coleus), and some potting soil.  I also pulled the Thai basil out of the hydroponic system that I already have, as it’s too tall for the light; time to let it grow!

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I planted everything in their proper homes.

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I found a new spot for everyone indoors, just under a window in my home office that gets direct sun all morning.

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At this point, I dug into the manual and began following the steps to set up the hardware.  In general, the manual is pretty good and easy to follow.  It does skip a few things—what’s the purpose for the included brackets and the blue clampy thing?–but for the most part, I was able to figure things out.  Step 1 is to plug in all the sensors into the back of the GrowCube.

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Step 2 is to push the sensors into the soil, not too deep yet close to the roots.  These will measure how much moisture is in the soil so that the GrowCube knows when it needs to water again.  The cable for the sensor is about three feet long, so the pots have to be within three feet of the GrowCube.

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The GrowCube comes with 10 meters of clear tubing—way more than you’ll need—which will transfer the water from the reservoir to the pots.  Step 3 is to measure and cut four pieces of the tubing—the blue clampy thing is actually a tool for cutting the tubing, though a pair of scissors works equally well—and connect each one to the grey nozzle, which is kind of like a mini soaker hose.

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Step 4 is to connect each of the tubes to the back of the GrowCube, making sure that each tube is completely connected.  I don’t want any of these to pop off while it’s watering.  In retrospect, it’s way easier to connect to the tubes first and the sensors second, because the tubes are just a bit finicky to get in place, and the sensor cables are kind of in the way.  But whatever, so long as it all gets there.

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Step 5 is to place the nozzle around the base of each plant in a pot.  This is where the brackets came in handy, as they can be used to help hold the nozzles exactly where I need them.  The slots for both the sensors and the tubes on the back of the GrowCube are labeled A through D, so I made sure that the sensor for A and the tube for A both went to the same plant, and so on.

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The final step of hardware setup is the plugin the DC power supply.  The end result is a bit of spaghetti, but at least it’s mostly hidden from sight.

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Next, I touched the top of the GrowCube in order to open the lid to the reservoir.

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Then I filled it to the line with filtered water.  It’s ready to go!

The brains of the GrowCube are actually in the app that I will load onto my iPhone.  It will allow me to select the types of plants that I have and set a watering schedule.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, Elecrow hasn’t quite finished the newest version of the app, so I wasn’t able to connect it to my GrowCube.  Once it’s ready, I’ll download it and write up the second half of this review.

What do I like?

The like the look of the hardware; it’s a very sleek, modern design.  I like that it can water four plants at a time.  I like that the software is supposed to have access to a huge database of plants, which should allow me to customize a unique watering schedule for each of my four different plants.

Something to consider before pledging

The software is not ready yet, and given that it has a somewhat ambitious set of features, it’s possible that this could take a while to finish.

The manual doesn’t say anything about fertilizer, which every indoor plant needs.  Can I mix Miracle Grow into the water, or will that mess up the GrowCube?  Maybe I should be using Osmocote or some other slow-release plant food, which tends to be rather expensive?  I’m just not sure, so I hope that Elecrow provides some guidance on this.

Where can I find more info?

Elecrow has set up a Kickstarter page, which you can visit for GrowCube costs and other details.  They also have a page on their website with information.  Finally, they have a nice YouTube video to watch.

I have high hopes for this gadget.  I really want it to help me keep these plants alive in my home office; in fact, I want more than that.  I want them to thrive under the care of the GrowCube’s automatic watering.

The GrowCube review will be updated when the GrowCube app is ready.

Price: $79.00
Where to buy: Kickstarter
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Elecrow.

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