By Kathryn Sukalich on Jul 12, 2013

Roll-Out Garden Mat Empowers People to Grow Food

Earth Starter, garden

Earth Starter’s Nourishmat makes it easy for new gardeners to know what to plant, when to plant it and when to water. Photo: Earth Starter

A backyard garden can provide healthy food for your family, but knowing how to start gardening can be a challenge. Earth Starter, a start-up company that manufactures its products in Maryland, wants to eliminate the confusion from the food-growing process with the Nourishmat, a labeled, color-coded mat that rolls out over the soil to help you start your garden.

The mats, which have been described as “Paint by Numbers for Gardening,” have holes cut out of them where you place the company’s seedballs, which are mixtures of clay, compost, chili powder and non-GMO seeds. The Nourishmat comes with 82 seedballs, including foods like kale, carrots, onions, peppers and eggplant, and a planting guide explaining when to plant each variety of vegetable, herb or flower.

Earth Starter employs companion planting methods when arranging each mat, too. For example, the insects attracted to a certain type of flower are also the insects that eat the neighboring plant’s pests.

Nourishmats come with built-in irrigation, taking the guesswork out of the watering process. Each Nourishmat is four feet by six feet, which makes it appropriate for even small backyards. For those with even less space, the two by six foot Herbmat may be appropriate. Both mats will help prevent the growth of weeds, since their material keeps sunlight from reaching the covered portions of the soil.

Nourishmat, Earth Starter, garden

The Nourishmat comes with 82 seedballs that can be pressed into the soil. Photo: Earth Starter

Earth Starter recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to expand their production. Supporters of the campaign can get a Nourishmat or Herbmat of their own or they can donate one to a school of their choice. In the campaign description, the company’s founders, Phil Weiner and John Gorby, say they want to make their products available to classrooms so gardening can become part of school curriculum.

Earth Starter’s mission is to turn consumers into producers, according to the company’s website, and by the time the reusable mats need replacing after five years or so, those consumers will likely have a much better understanding of how to grow their own food.

The Nourishmat has been tested in 22 states, according to the company, and Earth Starter’s future plans include an online search that will allow users to receive further planting instructions tailored to their specific location.

To support Earth Starter and learn more about the Nourishmat, visit the company’s Kickstarter page.

Read: No Time to Grow Food? Company Will Plant a Garden for You

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