Edwin de Koning knows a thing or two about growing vegetables. And so it came as no surprise that one day he decided to start his own business making and selling portable square gardens for you and me. Let’s meet the man behind PlantVierkant!
In case you’re wondering what PlantVierkant means, let me help you out. You see, Dutch isn’t as hard as some people would want you to believe. Plant means, well, plant! And vierkant translates literally as four sides, i.e. a square! Long story short: PlantVierkant means PlantSquare, a simple yet effective name for the ingenious wooden container for growing vegetables that is sweeping the Netherlands as I write this.
So Edwin, how did you think up PlantVierkant?
My original background is in Urban Planning and so I love designing spaces. And to be honest, to me it doesn’t matter whether they’re big or small. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine invited me to do some volunteer work at Ecolonie – a fully self-supporting ecovillage in France. She thought it would be just my thing because I enjoy tranquility and a green lifestyle. When I was there, I got fascinated by the idea of creating a sense of independence. Of course, going of the grid completely is pretty much impossible nowadays – at least that is the case when you live in the city. But nevertheless, I wanted to take that urge to be independent back into the city and started designing wooden containers for growing your own vegetables. At the time, I worked together with set designer Dries Verhoeven putting together an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Bois-le-Duc, so that was very inspiring.
Growing your own vegetables all sounds very ‘now’ to me. And compared to the average run of the mill gardening center you have a high goodwill factor to boot!
Yes, I’m convinced that having a good story helps. I live and breathe PlantVierkant. It’s so much fun to build your own company and I hope that sense of joy comes across in my products. Mind you, it costs me five hours to create the parts for one container – and that doesn’t even include the material. Also, milling the wood is a costly process, but luckily I can rent a machine for a flat monthly charge at RDM Makerspace. It’s a labor of love, but I get by!
I had a great time going through the PlantVierkant Facebook page and look at all the different ways people use your products!
Me too! People primarily use PlantVierkant to grow their own vegetables, obviously. It’s easy to get started. All you need is a bottom layer of vermiculite and a good mix of regular potting soil and garden soil. Obviously, I would not recommend growing vegetables like leek and carrots because they’d run too deep. Although I have to say, I know some people who have used PlantVierkant to grow those litle round Parisian carrots. Radish however, is still very popular. Did you know it only takes six weeks to grow them?
I always love to ask the same question with everyone I interview – do you have any tips for someone who is just starting out in your line of work?
Don’t listen to other people too much, as I sometimes used to do. It may sound as a cliché, but all you have to do is believe in yourself and just keep on doing what you’re doing.
Want to start your own little urban farm? Then go to www.plantvierkant.nl to get started!