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The Green Wheel would grow herbs and veggies, Halo-style

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May 29, 2012

The Green Wheel is an indoor gardening concept, in which hydroponically-grown plants rotat...

The Green Wheel is an indoor gardening concept, in which hydroponically-grown plants rotate around a central light source

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Back in the 80s, NASA envisioned a system for growing herbs and other edible plants in the zero-gravity environment of a spacecraft. Although it never got off the drawing board, that system consisted of a rotating ring with built-in hydroponics, which the plants grew on the inside of. Flash forward a few decades, and Italian design firm DesignLibero has taken that concept and re-imagined it as a consumer device, known as The Green Wheel.

The system would have a non-turning outer housing, nested inside of which would be a motor-driven ring, rotating at approximately one revolution per hour. A variety of herbs and vegetables would be planted on the inside surface of that ring, growing in a coconut fiber medium contained within individual perforated “vases” – tiny pots built into the ring, in other words.

At the bottom of the housing would be a water reservoir, which the vases would dip into as the ring rotated through. Full-spectrum lighting would be provided by a tube-shaped LED fixture, suspended in the middle of the ring.

Parameters such as the amount and color temperature of the light would be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone/tablet app, which would also alert users when the system was running low on water.

A diagram of The Green Wheel

So, what’s the point?

First of all, for people such as apartment-dwellers, it would allow them to grow a relatively large number of plants in a small area – that same amount of growing space spread out entirely horizontally would take up more in the way of valuable shelf space. Additionally, by having the plants all rotating around one light source, less lighting would be needed, and all of the plants would get equal exposure to it. Less lighting would in turn mean less power consumption, although the motor would use some electricity.

While “wouldn’t it be cool” concepts like this are quite plentiful, DesignLibero’s head designer Libero Rutilo told us that his company definitely wants to develop The Green Wheel commercially. He said that his crew are ready to build a prototype, but are first looking for a distribution network and financial backer. So, if you’re the head of a large company, and are interested in funding a “revolution” in indoor gardening ...

Source: DesignLibero via Tuvie

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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16 Comments

Don't plants need heat and UV exposure to grow properly? Could they get that from a LED?

Tiltrotortech
29th May, 2012 @ 02:26 pm PDT

This looks more like a fashion statement rather than an efficient design. The opening in the middle is nice, but it should be closed with a reflective door.

Current REAL cultivation models are a closed box with reflective internal walls, and many internal floors, each one with their tiny LEDs. The cultivation density is bigger, have no moving parts, and you can set precisely the light period and humidity. With that moving wheel you can't.

And one more thing, plants have gravitropism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitropism). If they are spinned continuously, I don't know if they would grow their roots and stems well.

cachurro
29th May, 2012 @ 03:24 pm PDT

Not much really "new" here , there are already products on the market that do the same thing. Rotogro or volksgarden to name names.

Nick Thompson
29th May, 2012 @ 05:15 pm PDT

I think "cachurro" said it best.. and I don't need to add anything more, except that if this WERE a good idea, pot growers would ALREADY have popularized it by now, and everybody would have known about it.

.. er,, GIZMAG,, you have some great articles.. but here... FAIL!

Doc Rock
30th May, 2012 @ 03:33 am PDT

cachurro. There are studies on industrial models to show that the stems grow stringer from the bending, and apparently it increases the growth rate....

Sure it would be a fashion statement...

One industrial model was using it as it allowed one short row of grow lights to satisfy pi*D linear metres of plant bed...

Doc Rock, I agree if it were really that good, we would have one on every block, in every Government housing Rental.... keeping the supply of all the happy herbs up to the neighbourhood.

MD
30th May, 2012 @ 07:35 am PDT

Wouldn't be so quick to criticize. Placed in a window,it could receive additional light. For apartments it wouldn't take much space. Pot plants grow way too tall for such a device. Yes,the Italians do things with style but purpose along with. It's a prototype so will be interesting to see how it develops or not.

Certainly not a Gizmag failure but another article on what's out there.

chidrbmt
30th May, 2012 @ 09:40 am PDT

MD’s last statement I think rings through with me… “Happy Herbs” I mean what else could you possibly grow… this was initially designed for zero gravity where a fruit or vegetable bearing plant could just “Float” it’s growth mass around the ring effortlessly… rather fortunately… we have gravity here on earth so other than herbs… and even some of those I would question withstanding the constant up down side to side pull of this thing called GRAVITY…could you even grow… I can just hear the green tomatoes hitting the floor as they reach critical mass to be pulled from the plant from being constantly rising and falling as they rotate… and the perforated “vases” I am sure will not support plants that bear their “meat” below the surface like potatoes… not to Poo Poo on a cool looking device… but completely impractical for anything other than a gimmick herb garden… and who uses that many herbs… sheesh..

GadgetGeek
30th May, 2012 @ 09:42 am PDT

I think there is something wrong here, unless the Inventor wants to teach the plants some Yoga Postures. It seems that Gravitropism or not, this can only work for a very short while.

Is it possible that the plants will grow towards a light, grow fruit and flowers hanging ! Or will the fruits ride the Ferris Wheel, defying gravity ?

I think the "pots" holding the plants should always be held upright as people in a giant Ferris Wheel.

Chandran
30th May, 2012 @ 10:18 am PDT

@cachurro, I don't know anything about this product except for what they say here, and your information is completely valid, but my question is, would Gravitropism be caused by the spinning of the wheel?

pumcal
30th May, 2012 @ 10:22 am PDT

For the most part, I'd have to agree with many of the comments here; especially those of GadgetGeek. Anything that grows fruits (and I'm including veggies here) would not work here. Can you imagine the thuds of the cucumbers, squash, zucchini, etc? No, probably not, because they'd die and fall off before they got heavy enough to thud.

This would be great for salads and most herbs, but for most edible plants, this simply wouldn't work.

I disagree with the comment that this article is a "fail" for Gizmag. If they don't bring this info to us, how can we create a discourse on it? It needs to be discussed. I'm using a different hydroponic system called a "living tower" (although I think it's also called something else too) and it's pretty amazing. Tiny footprint, fast growth, organic, etc. etc. I do believe that we should keep trying to push the envelope for hydroponic food growing, and things like this keep the development and improvements going.

Dave Andrews
30th May, 2012 @ 10:24 am PDT

On the NASA model it spun fast enough that out was always down.

Slowburn
30th May, 2012 @ 12:11 pm PDT

One of these big enough to grow marijuana in would have to be 10 feet across. Mature cannabis is a big plant and immature cannabis is very weak. Even if you keep pinching the apical meristem off to get it to grow wide, it will be at least four feet tall at maturity.

What pot grower would want to spend that kind of money, anyway, when all you need is to grow it indoors are used florescent fixtures and the cheapest florescent tubes.

Note: while I have actual experience with growing weed in doors, it dates from the early 70s and my misspent early 30s. It was fun and quite good, but I could not resist showing off my grow room to everybody who came to the house, so I stopped.

“...one revolution an hour...” is not exactly “spinning”.

Page Schorer
30th May, 2012 @ 05:32 pm PDT

@cachurro

From some gravitropism tests I've done, it has an effect only during germination. The initial roots make pretzel shapes in the beginning since it's right-side-up keeps changing. After a while, they seem to say "screw it" and just pick a direction. The root system then generally grows in the same direction regardless of spinning.

I imagine that plant shoots are started in a pot and then transplanted, but that's a guess.

palexj
30th May, 2012 @ 07:43 pm PDT

The design is not new, tho the outer shell not rotating may be. I suppose that would be visually pleasing to the eye.

The rotation does not inhibit the plants in any way, but the seedlings would do better if grown the regular way until rooted, and then placed in the device.

As for heating, most plants like temps around 70-80 degrees, which is usually the house temp.

There are other wheel growing devices out there, but this is the nicest one I have ever seen.

Well done.

Bob Komarek
31st May, 2012 @ 06:19 am PDT

Kickstarter.

Chris Smith
4th June, 2012 @ 05:22 pm PDT

Plants growing in hydroponics should be getting water at least every 15 minutes. In this design the plants would only get water for 20 minutes max every hour. Roots and plants will die from lack of water.

Why are they using a led. Led light dimishes rapidly at around 6 to 12 inches. In other words, the plants would get enough light to actually even grow or sustain plant life.

A hps or metal halide 150 watt and up would do nicely. Especially if it were a cool tube.

Neat idea but you can tell the designers know nothing about plants and hydroponics

Facebook User
16th June, 2012 @ 02:21 am PDT
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