People who lack a green thumb know just how hard it is to keep potted plants alive, let alone grow one from the ground up. But just because you might not have the savvy to keep herbs and vegetables thriving doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy fresh foods on demand — especially considering how fresh herbs can make seemingly ordinary dishes pack a punch of flavor. Growing your own vegetables and herbs indoors also gives you more control over what you’re putting into your body. Plus, a potted plant or two helps make your kitchen feel more vibrant. It’s wins all around.
A way to get those wins is to invest in Click and Grow’s Smart Garden 3 ($99.95; clickandgrow.com). The smart device waters and provides light to your herbs and vegetables for complete maintenance. It has a few genius design factors. The first is the soil, which the company says uses a patented nanotech growth medium to help accelerate the growth of your herbs. This soil gives the plant the right amount of nutrients and oxygen to keep it healthy. Then there’s a fitted water tank that controls how much water goes to each plant. And lastly, there’s an adjustable light source that gives the herbs enough simulated sunlight throughout the day. All you have to do is set up the device, pop in the plant cartridges of your choice, refill the water tank from time to time (in many cases it lasts for weeks at a time) and adjust the attached light higher as your plant grows. At most, you’ll be spending a few minutes every few weeks maintaining your herb garden.
When we tested the product we were impressed with how quickly our herbs grew. During testing, we used each of the pods for three different herbs: basil, cilantro and peppermint. While they sprouted at different times (basil was the fastest grower by far), each needed only about a week before it started to break the soil’s surface. From there, all three of the herbs grew substantially within three weeks. By the month mark, the herbs had grown enough to start using in cooking. So in a month, we were able to grow and sustain fresh herbs without the use of harmful substances or pesticides, with probably only 15 minutes of total maintenance time (assembly, refilling the water tank and adjusting the lights).
Some important things to note: The LED light can be pretty bright, especially since the device’s timer will keep it on for about 16 hours (and then off for eight). If it’s a bit intrusive for your space, just drape a cloth over the light. We found it blocked out most of the light while still not interfering with the growing process. And if you’re worried about how much electricity this might use, Click and Grow’s site says the light only requires 6 watts of energy, which equates to around $4 to $5 extra on your electricity bill for the whole year.
The Smart Garden 3 isn’t the only device from Click and Grow. The retailer also offers larger iterations like the Smart Garden 9 ($199.95; clickandgrow.com) which stores nine plants, and even larger wall farms with room for 34 plants ($899; clickandgrow.com) and 51 respectively ($1,299; clickandgrow.com). There are 48 different plant capsules available online to shop right now, ranging from marigolds to hot chili peppers. So no matter what your taste preferences are, there’s a vegetable or herb that suits your go-to dishes.
A self-sustaining garden that can grow your favorite ingredients without your doing much work at all? It’s as foolproof as it gets.
Note: Prices above reflect the listed retailer’s price at time of publication.