As impressive as it is, the Grobo also isn’t exactly as automated as it might seem. Anyone following my sometimes frustrated Instagram stories related to the device over the last year and a half can quickly tell how frustrating the process can be.
The curing process still remains a little unclear to me, with it ultimately coming down to personal preference to some extent. I ended up keeping my cannabis in an airtight container for roughly two weeks, opening it once or twice a day to let a little moisture in. After researching curing after this grow, I realized some strains require up to four to eight weeks of curing.
While these issues may have delayed me writing this story, the additional time has given me more insight into the machine, the growing process and hydroponics in general, ultimately resulting in a better outcome with my following grow attempts.
Now, onto what the actual growing experience has been like.
An automated closet cannabis farm that isn’t as simple as it seems
In the end, my experience with the Grobo has been mostly positive. While I’m disappointed in the technical issues I encountered given the device’s price tag, it still offers a relatively automated experience.
Up until this point, my experience with the Grobo was great. However, I quickly realized the device is far brighter and louder than I expected. While the company’s marketing material shows the Grobo sitting in a beautiful, Apple Store-inspired living room like an interesting conversation piece, that’s not practical. I quickly moved the Grobo to my front closet after the first week, which muted the unit’s sound significantly.
My first lengthy grow attempt, unfortunately, ended with a completely dead plant after the Grobo’s air pump died while I was away on a work trip. This was particularly devastating because the over 100-day grow process was nearly complete at that point. Grobo sent me a new pump I was somewhat easily able to replace but still, given the device’s cost, I expected its components to last a little longer.
The Grobo itself is great-looking and relatively non-descript. It’s a white, square box with a wooden top and bottom that comes in at roughly 121cm tall, making it relatively easy to slide into a closet, a garage or the corner of your home where it will remain relatively unnoticed (at least until you turn it on). Apart from its power cord, there’s a single button on the back of the device for opening and closing the Grobo’s door.
Inside there are five numbered bottles of nutrients, a basin and a plastic lid with a hole in the middle where the ‘coco pod‘ dips into the water so its roots can grow hydroponically. There’s fluid glass on the front of the unit so you can see your grow’s progress without opening the door, as well as LED lights on the top of the inside that switch between different spectrums to maximize the plant’s growth.
Today, the company is opening up preorders of its device. Leaf will be available to users with a medicinal card in any of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana, as well as in the four states where marijuana is currently legal.
However, this technology comes at a cost. The device will retail for $1,499, which makes it much more expensive than simply growing your plant in the ground. However, the company says that the machine will technically pay for itself after just a few months, as the “retail value” of 4-5 ounces (one growth cycle) is around $1,200.
Marijuana is a sticky subject. Twenty-three states (and D.C) have legalized some form of medical use, but possession, growth and distribution are still illegal in the majority of the United States.
This is all controlled from Leaf’s iPhone app, which will also serve as a social network for users to exchange recipes and share videos of their plants.
Additionally, each grow will cost about $150 in nutrient cartridges and carbon filter refills. However, co-founder and CEO Yoni Ofir said that eventually the company hopes to drop the price of the actual device and generate its primary revenue from refills (à la Keurig).
However, Leaf is much more than just a mini grow house. The system will monitor everything that your plants need to grow, including light, ventilation, nutrient levels and pH of the soil.
To do this, Leaf has incorporated a built-in HD camera, which will automatically create time lapses and even let users access a live stream of their (or their friends’) grow.
However, as is the case with most new industries, slow regulation hasn’t stopped innovation.
Leaf, a TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 Battlefield company, is leading the revolution with its automated “Plug N’ Plant” home growing system. Leaf’s device is a 4′ x 2′ box that will fit two plants, which will yield between 4-5 ounces of weed.
The Grobo uses sensors to monitor the condition of the plant, automatically adjusting its watering schedule, and then lets you know when it’s ready to harvest. It’s suitable for a range of crops — including tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, herbs, kale, and more — but Grobo’s founder and CEO, Bjorn Dawson, says the device’s creation was inspired by the challenges Canadians face growing medicinal cannabis at home.
“One of these people came to us early on to help with testing,” Dawson tells The Verge, “He spent eight to 10 hours a week to grow the medication he needs — time he could have been spending with his family and children.” Dawson says they’d originally started with a smaller product, but make it bigger to accommodate users such as those growing medicinal cannabis. “We’re really just trying to make it as easy as possible for people to access fresh produce and medication,” he says.
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We’ve seen more than a few products that offer customers the chance to grow fresh fruit, herbs, and vegetables in their own home with minimal effort, but a device named Grobo from a Canadian startup looks like it might be the most straightforward yet. Its creators describe it as a “Keurig for plants.” You simply fill its reservoirs with water and nutrients, drop some seeds into its base, and then hit a button on a connected app to start the growing process. A couple weeks later, you’re ready to harvest.
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“There’s very little you have to do but there’s a lot you can do,” says Dawson. “So if you want to learn how to grow better, in the app there are prompts at different phases of plant growth, saying things like: ‘You should trim this part of the plant and if you do you’ll get better results.'” Users can also program their own growing instructions into the app, with Dawson noting the only real limitation on the Grobo is size. “You wouldn’t be able to grow something like a watermelon, for example, because the plant itself gets too large.”