After snagging the Design Materials Award at Dwell on Design last month in Los Angeles, a “revolutionary” roll-out home gardening system geared for time- and space-strapped urbanites, professional brownthumbs, and veggie-loving dilettantes has entered the homestretch of a Kickstarter campaign that will enable parent company, Washington, D.C.-based Earth Starter, to bring the product to market.

A “simple and smart solution that allows anyone to become the successful owner of a garden they can take pride in,” the color-coded Nourishmat — along with its smaller sibling, the Herbmat — has been described by Earth Starter co-founder Phil Weiner as being akin to “paint-by-numbers for gardening.” By all accounts, it’s a pretty dead-on comparison.
Harnessing the principles of companion planting and square foot gardening, the Nourishmat is a reusable 4-foot-by-6-foot tarp that’s laid out over and staked into an available patch of soil. Next, a total of 82 pre-planted seedballs — potent little nuggets composed of organic compost, clay, earthworm castings, pest-deterring chili powder, and non-GMO seeds — of 19 different plant varieties (kale, radish, spinach, tomato, onion, eggplant, rainbow chard, dill, chive, and marigold just to name a few) are placed halfway into the soil within the corresponding pre-cut, pre-labeled holes. No tilling is required. A perforated, waste-reducing drip irrigation system that connects to a garden hose is optional and an included planting guide tells you when and where to plant the seedballs.
Measuring 2-feet-by-6-feet, the Herbmat offers more of the same but within a smaller footprint. Thirty-two seedballs spanning 8 different annual, bi-annual, and perennial plant varieties (chive, basil, dill, mint, parsley, thyme, savory, and sage) are included in the kit. Individual seedball refills for both the Nourishmat and Herbmat can be ordered for $1.99 to $3.79 a pop directly through the Nourishmat website. A full-season seedball refill kit for the Nourishmat is also available for $44.95.
The Nourishmat Kickstarter campaign page explains the benefits of companion planting and square foot gardening:
The Nourishmat and Herbmat yield great results because they were designed using proven principles of companion planting and square foot gardening. All 19 plant varieties were selected for being great neighbors. For example, marigolds and nasturtiums (both edible flowers) help attract beneficial insects to the garden. Square foot gardening allows you to produce the same results with only 20% of the space and resources.
A fledgling company founded by Weiner along with fellow University of Maryland grad John Gorby, Earth Starter’s in-a-nutshell mission is to “turn Earth’s consumers into producers." Following the Kickstarter campaign, Weiner and Gorby also hope to launch an educational curriculum in schools revolving around the Nourishmat concept.
At Earth Starter, we seek to once again provide people with the option to grow their own food despite a lack of agricultural know-how. We formed this company to solve what we believe will be the world’s most pressing issues in upcoming years: food supply and water conservation. By taking on challenges such as improving food access, changing food habits, reducing consumption of highly processed foods, and reducing the prevalence of pesticide laden, genetically-modified foods we will be able to deliver the highest quality products and services. Earth Starter products will allow people everywhere to adapt to environmental and economic constraints as we collectively strive towards a more sustainable world.
Both the Nourishmats and Herbmats are manufactured in North Carolina while the seedballs are manufactured in Maryland.  

Good stuff all around. Complete irrigated and non-irrigated Nourishmat and Herbmat systems (they start at $55) along with a la carte seedball packs and other swag (T-shirts, water bottles, etc.) are available for pre-order at the Nourishmat Kickstarter campaign page. But hurry ... only 20 days remain until Earth Starter needs to reach the $70,000 fundraising goal. And to be clear, the product is already in production but the funds will allow Weiner and Gorby to move all of their operations to one location, generate more inventory, and expand marketing and outreach campaigns.

Home gardeners: Any thoughts on this foolproof, space-saving new gardening solution?

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Gardening by numbers: Nourishmat offers big yields, minimal guesswork
Earth Starter takes to Kickstarter to help bring the time- and space-saving Nourishmat and Herbmat roll-out gardening systems to market.