This Indoor Herb Garden Monitors Your Plants' Health, Sends Alerts to Your Phone, and Even Recommends Recipes

If your plants are low on water, this herb garden from GardenByte will send an alert right to your phone.
If your plants are low on water, this herb garden from GardenByte will send an alert right to your phone.
GardenByte

Having fresh herbs on hand is a great way to liven up just about any meal. But if you’ve ever attempted to grow them yourself, you may find that keeping these potted plants alive is like having a second job.

But GardenByte is looking to take the guesswork and hassle out of growing herbs with a new smart indoor planter that connects to an app on your phone to help you through the entire growing process. And until April 22, you can back the project on Kickstarter.

Using the herb garden is easy: Simply drop one of the 50 pre-seeded pods into the planter’s grid tray, add water, and the planter, which is equipped with built-in computer sensors, will take care of the rest. Throughout the day, the powerful LED lights on the hydroponic planter simulate the sun to help optimize growth, while at night the planter uses softer light to mimic the moon.

Once planted, the indoor garden's sensors help monitor the environment for water levels and other necessities. If there are any issues—like sudden changes in room temperature, a low water supply, or a nutrient imbalance—you’ll get a notification through the app. Up to 39 different plants can be placed in the garden at one time, including greens, vine vegetables, and more.

The GardenByte app also lets you know when it's time to harvest your plants and will even suggest recipes that complement your assortment. If you're out of town, setting the garden to "vacation mode" on the app will automatically slow down the plants' growth and maintain progress while you're gone.

You can head here to get your own indoor garden, starting at $1299. The campaign is open until April 22.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

9 of Amazon’s Best Kitchen Knives

Wüsthof/Amazon
Wüsthof/Amazon

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting to build up your home kitchen, a dependable knife set is absolutely essential. But there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to kitchen knives and chef knives. So, to make things easier for you, we looked at some of the top-selling knives on Amazon with the highest user ratings (at least 900 reviews each) and came up with a list of the best options available. You can check them out below.

1. 15-Piece Cuisinart Knife Set (4.6 Stars); $45

A Cuisinart knife set.
Cuisinart/Amazon

Cuisinart has been making quality kitchen products for decades, and this knife set offers 12 stainless-steel blades that are perfect for slicing and chopping the ingredients of any dish you happen to be cooking up. In this package, you'll also get sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a holding block.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Home Hero Set of Seven (4.6 Stars); $27

A Home Hero knife set.
Home Hero/Amazon

Inside this versatile set, you'll find a chef knife, carving knife, bread knife, utility knife, and a paring knife. Along with the five stainless-steel blades, there's also a finger guard and sharpener, so you can keep your utensils ready to go at all times.

Buy it: Amazon

3. McCook 14-Piece Set (4.7 Stars); $53

McCook Knife set.
McCook/Amazon

Made with high-carbon stainless steel, this knife set is built to last. The knives have an easy-to-grip handle that’s comfortable to hold, while the blades are built to cut through just about anything. And when they do get dull, there’s a sharpener built into the wooden stand.

Buy it: Amazon

4. AmazonBasics Eight-Piece Steak Knife Set (4.4 Stars); $22

A set of steak knives from Amazon.
Amazon

This set of simple yet dependable knives is what you'll want to have on hand to get you through barbecue season. Each one is made from a single piece of stain-resistant steel, and according to Amazon, you won’t need to worry about sharpening the micro-serrated part of the blade.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Set of Four Dalstrong Knives (4.7 Stars); $90

A set of steak knives.
Dalstrong/Amazon

After you cook your perfect steak, make sure you have the proper tools to enjoy it with. Dalstrong’s knives are made from high-carbon German steel and will stay sharp long after their first use.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Mercer Culinary Genesis Steak Knife, Serrated Edge (4.8 Stars); $14

A knife from Mercer Culinary.
Mercer Culinary/Amazon

Mercer Culinary makes knives for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Its santoprene handle allows for a comfortable grip, while its carbon-forged steel blade is rust-resistant.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Wüsthof Eight-Inch Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $165

A knife from Wüsthof.
Wüsthof/Amazon

Wüsthof has been making knives for over 200 years, and this sturdy chef's knife can be put through the wringer without worrying about quick wear and tear.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Utopia Kitchen 8-Inch Chef Knife (4.4 Stars); $9

A chef's knife from Utopia Kitchen.
Utopia Kitchen/Amazon

This rust-resistant stainless-steel knife is one you’ll want to have on hand. It's built to cut through large food items but you can also use it to mince or finely chop smaller ones. And with such a low price point, it's great to pick up if you're just looking to practice the basics before moving on to something more advanced.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Victorinox 10-Inch Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $40

A Victorinox knife.
Victorinox/Amazon

Victorinox has been around for over 130 years, and their versatile chef’s knife lets you put your slicing and dicing skills to the test. It has a tapered edge which allows you to get the perfect angle, while its razor-sharp blade can cut through pretty much anything a recipe might throw your way.

Buy it: Amazon

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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