48% of US consumers are unhappy with store bought tomatoes. In 2009, 43 million households grew vegetables; 9 million were new to gardening. Tomatoes are one of the most challenging vegetables to grow. Lack of space, expertise, time, sunlight, or unpredictable outdoor conditions prevent home gardeners from successfully growing tomatoes. O Sole Mio's Ultimate Tomato Greenhouse™ (UTG) makes it easy to grow perfect tomatoes by eliminating these roadblocks.
Plants have three basic needs for survival: water for nutrient delivery, light for photosynthesis, and CO2 for respiration. With the use of technology and innovative techniques, the UTG eliminate the top 7 causes of plant death. It conveniently provides the plant with all of its needs and requires minimal user attention. The self-watering container eliminates the top 2 causes of plant death: over- and under-watering. To prevent disease, a sterile grow medium is used and microorganisms are added to protect plant roots and help absorb nutrition.
At every stage of the plants growth, optimal light spectrums and nutrients are delivered. Variable combinations of red and blue LED’s not only deliver the ideal spectrums at different stages, but also reduce heat and energy consumption in comparison to traditional grow lights. Applying more nitrogen when the plant is young and more calcium and phosphorus when the plant is fruiting improves overall plant health. LED light strips along the plants outer support system provide the correct light from four sides of the plant’s support frame.
Air circulation is important for delivering CO2 to the plant, reducing humidity in the system, and creating vibrations for pollination. Being in an enclosed environment limits the plants CO2 intake, thus requiring a new supply of air. Transpiration is the process by which water evaporates from the leaves, thereby drawing nutrient rich water into the plant through the roots. If transpiration is slowed, so is growth. High humidity increases the incidence of plant pathogens and also reduces transpiration. A fan at the top of the system delivers incremental supplies of new air and vents at the base of the plant allow the air to exit.
The UTG’s modular design allows for both indoor and outdoor use, thus allowing for year-round growing. With an MSRP of $200, the UTG will cost about $88 to build. Preliminary research suggests that the UTG can provide 50-75 pounds of homegrown, heirloom tomatoes annually. At $4 a pound for premium tomatoes, the UTG pays for itself by year two.
The Ultimate Tomato Greenhouse™ provides novice gardeners with the opportunity to successfully grow top-quality tomatoes in different environments. Additionally it reduces the global carbon footprint by limiting dependence on imported tomatoes. Finally, the satisfaction attained by home gardeners in growing their own produce is the real value of this product.
ABOUT THE ENTRANT
Name: Misha Kogan
Type of entry: team
Patent status: none