* Prices may differ from that shown
As the UK's population increases, England's green and pleasant land is slowly but surely transforming itself into a concrete jungle - sad but true. Space for growing vegetables is at a premium, and the demand for allotments is at its highest level for fifty years. This has led to an influx of indoor growing, and there have been a number of companies willing to cash in on the trend. Made by Touch of Ginger [ www.touchof ginger.com ], a 'SeedPod' is a mini plant growing kit with a pot included. There are seven regular SeedPods to collect (Mint, Chilli, Chive, Coriander, Parsley, Sage, and Thyme), and a further seven 'Weird Seedpods' including Mimosa, Golden Berry, Kohirabi, Loofah Sponge, Okra, Pumpkin, and Squash. As I own the Mimosa variety, this is what my review will focus on.
How much does the SeedPod cost?
All the varieties of SeedPod retail at £4.99 from the official Touch of Ginger website, although they can occasionally be picked up for slightly cheaper on amazon.co.uk - watch out for inflated post and packaging charges if you're buying from amazon marketplace though.
What do I get for my money?
Measuring roughly 15 x 8 centimeters, the SeedPod container is a semi-transparent plastic unit in which you plant your chosen specimen. The plastic is recyclable, and a logo on the front label suggests you should reuse the container for other purposes once you have finished with it. The kit comes with everything you need in order to get started (apart from sunlight and water of course!), including;
- A small bag of gravel (for drainage).
- A circular coir tablet ('Coir' is basically soil made from coconut husk - it looks just like regular soil, but it has a number of environmental advantages over standard peat).
- A packet of seeds (you get loads, but you don't need to use them all).
Although there are a number of Mimosa species, the one supplied with the SeedPod is the Mimosa pudica - but why is it classified as a 'weird' plant? Well, Mimosa is described as a perennial herb with an interesting characteristic - its foliage closes when it gets dark, and opens up again in the light. Not only that, you can touch or blow the flower, and it will instantly close up as a defensive mechanism, and open a few moments later when the perceived 'danger' has passed - what a clever plant! The clue is in the name - the latin word 'pudica' actually translates as 'shy' - so know you know.
What do I do to get started?
To begin with, you must pop the top off the SeedPod container and take out the contents. Add the gravel into the bottom, and then place the coir tablet on top. Adding 70 - 80ml of warm water will make the tablet expand, leaving you with a surprisingly large amount of earth in which to plant your seeds - it's a bit like making a Pot Noodle, although you don't eat this afterwards (or at least you shouldn't...). Next take around for or five of the seeds and lightly press them into the soil, being careful to space them out nicely. All that's left to do is leave the SeedPod in a warm and light position, remembering to lightly water until the seeds appear.
Although it looks a bit like a funky glasses case, the SeedPod container stands up on end, with the front of its base sloped slightly less than the back of its base. This makes the pot itself lean forward (whilst remaining quite stable), and therefore more efficient at collecting the light from your windows (providing they are nice and clean!). The design is very clever, and as a whole, the SeedPod kit feels like a nicely constructed and well thought out product - it's certainly worth the £4.99 RRP.
Is the Mimosa difficult to grow?
In my experience, the seeds should start to poke through after about a week if you keep the soil nice and moist - this first stage is easy. The tricky bit is getting them to a stage where they are ready to flower. In the case of the Mimosa pudica, it does require a fairly light setting - not necessarily in direct sunlight, but if the SeedPod is on an indoor window ledge, then it should get a little sun for part of the day. If your plant stays in seedling stage for weeks on end, then it may not be getting enough light - similarly, a sure sign of poorly seeds is if they are of a pale and washed out green colour - they shouldn't look like bean sprouts! Other things to look out for is overwatering, which can make the seedling get a small amount of what looks likes furry mould around their shoots - yuk! If you are lucky enough to achieve a nice heathy looking and flowering Mimosa, then it may be a good idea to replant it in a larger pot - but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves!
Worth the Investment?
Although they require just as much care and attention as any other plant (just because it comes in a kit, it doesn't mean growing them is any easier!), a SeedPod would make a great gift for someone who has no garden, but wants to be actively involved in growing. The SeedPod herb selection would be great for a kitchen window ledge, and very handy for those interested in cooking. The Mimosa is a great novelty plant which will probably impress kids - in fact all of the SeedPods from the 'Weird' collection have something about them which makes them quite interesting - i'm interested to see how the loofah one would grow.
All in all, I can only award these ingenious little all-inclusive sets a high recommendation, and I hope to see a new lot of weird and wonderful SeedPod kits available in the future to choose from.