VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Paul Harris enjoyed gardening while growing up on a dairy farm, but he disliked the need to stoop. "I realized I didn't like the ergonomics," said Harris, president of Stand Up Gardens Ltd. His concept of comfortable gardening has become a reality in a low-pressure structural foam product. The polyethylene vessel sits on a wood stand — several styles are available — with an optional overhead arbor and 400-watt halogen grow light.
"I thought I would enjoy gardening more standing up," said Harris in a interview at the March 26-28 SPI Structural Plastics 2000 conference in Vancouver, where the product was entered into the event's design contest. The countertop height is comparable to stands used in commercial nurseries. Each vessel can hold up to 400 pounds of soil and water. The system permits year-round gardening, and also facilitates use by individuals in nursing homes or wheelchairs, who may need to remain seated.
His Portsmouth, N.H., company sells a basic module for $500. Horizon Plastics Co. Ltd. of Cobourg, Ontario, uses PE and glass filler in molding the vessel on a press of 300 tons or 400 tons. The end cap and belly snap together. FGL Precision Works Ltd. of Concord, Ontario, made the three-cavity mold and was instrumental in development work.
The system uses an irrigation manifold including polypropylene piping and tubing and a controller that permits self-watering based on sensing soil moisture. A user can insert an acrylic divider to segregate a section of the vessel for a water garden with a circulating fountain and colorful fish.
Stand Up Gardens and Arato Design of Toronto used computer-aided-design software in creating the product line.
Harris used a spray-up fiberglass process in 1998 for initial production but moved to foam molding for garden vessels that began reaching the market in July.