Disclaimer: The inclusion of products in this post does not equal endorsement. I have no affiliation with these companies, nor can I vouch for them.
Summer is coming.
In other words, it is time for the cocktail season.
How does an afternoon homemade mojito sound?
And if there is one thing that you can do to step up your cocktail game, it is to use organic ingredients.
This is where smart herb gardens come into play.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use homegrown kitchen herbs to freshen up your culinary masterpieces?
You know, the pleasant smell of freshly crushed mint resting on the bottom of a glass filled with the rum-infused concoction.
The use of homegrown herbs, though, doesn’t end with cocktails.
Think fresh basil and oregano sprinkled on your Margherita.
I know, I know, you live in an apartment and growing herbs indoors just can’t happen, right?
There is no space, not enough sunlight, and let’s face it, gardening is not an easy task for the urban dweller.
Whether you are looking for a new hobby or need organic cilantro for your guacamole within an arm’s length, there are solutions to your problems.
Here are some pros and cons of these LED kitchen gardens.
- Small-space friendly.
- No over/underwatering.
- Pest, weed, and lice-free.
- No plumbing and sprinklers.
- Most of the devices are plug-and-play.
- Some companies offer experimental kits.
- Don’t need direct sunlight/access to a window.
- Reduced food waste – only consume what you need.
- Most devices are quite small, and buying several can get expensive.
- Might only work with the company’s plants and nutrients.
- No exposure to natural elements.
Now, let’s go over 12 devices that will smartly take care of your indoor herb garden.
(the brands are clickable links)
Click and Grow seems to be the most popular smart indoor herb gardening device out there.
The basic version, called Smart Herb Garden, comes at $59 and can hold three plants, that come in special pods.
If the trio doesn’t cut it for your needs, the company also offers a 34 and 51 plant versions, The Wall Farm Mini and The Wall Farm, for $899 and $1,299, respectively.
The Click and Grow pods hold the plants and what the company calls Smart Soil (allegedly “inspired by NASA”) – a nutrient-rich compost which releases the right amount of vital elements for your plants.
The devices feature a LED lamp with a timer, a water reservoir, and a smart power supply.
Click and Grow also offers other perks like a DIY starter kit, stylish casings and a selection of plant capsules/refills – herbs, flowers, and fruits.
The next device on the list comes from Finland and features a futuristic design.
Plantui comes in three options – the smaller Plantui 3 (99€) and Moomin Garden 3 (215€), and the larger Plantui 6 (265€).
The device doesn’t need soil as it only works with special nutrient capsules that you add to the water.
This indoor herb garden takes care of the plants with an adjustable LED unit and a smart watering system.
In the plant capsules section, you can find individual plant capsules or opt for assorted packs.
The plants are categorized based on their growth rate, and while the focus is on herbs there are also several sorts of garden flowers.
There are also some accessories available for purchase, including a metal stand and a spare water pump.
According to the company behind it, ROOT “is the first smart, in-home aeroponic garden system that helps you effortlessly grow and maintain fresh herbs, produce, and flowers of your own.”
The device costs $299 and is set to ship in the Summer of 2017.
It only comes in one size, but an extender ($10) will be available for purchase so you can grow plants as high as “24.
For $20 you get the liquid “All-in-one Plant Food” necessary for growing your greens.
The mushroom-like gardening system holds a maximum of 12 plants and only takes four steps to start growing your indoor herb garden.
The built-in watering and lighting systems take care of the plants, so you don’t have to fill your to-do list with stuff like “water the Swiss chard [whatever that is].”
ROOT connects with your home WiFi so it can sync with a mobile app that will remind you if you need to add more water and food.
ēdn‘s design sets it apart.
The plastic makes way for wood and aluminum frame that could seamlessly fit into most home looks.
There are two options that you can choose from – the 12-pod SmallGarden ($129) and the 14-plant wall-mounted WallGarden ($499/pre-purchase only).
The set-up is easy – place the pods, drop the seeds, add water and nutrition and let the plants grow.
From there ēdn will smartly provide the necessary care for your plants.
The company offers its own “plant food” and seed pods along with capillary mats that help you “maximize the surface” of the pods.
While the SmallGarden doesn’t need any special set-up other than adding plants, water, and nutrition, the WallGarden comes with an app that will walk you through installing the system.
Though you don’t need the app after installing the WallGarden, it might come in handy during the growing stages of your indoor garden.
It shows important stats on the growth level of each plant as well as on the temperature, water, nutrients, and light.
gro really puts the word “smart” in “smart technology.”
The gardening system comes with a serious price tag – $1750 for a three plant system, $1950 for a six-plant one.
Yet, it is worth noting that gro is not a standalone device, but a whole connected system that can hold between three and six plants.
Unlike some of the other devices that we saw so far, gro doesn’t come with its own “food” meaning that you get to choose the plants and hydroponic nutrients for your indoor garden.
The guys who have come up with the device are quite techy with its features and have provided a full list of all the technical specifications that look after your indoor garden.
Some of the features that are worth noting are gro’s own operational system, the use of more than ten sensors and “Super Oxygenation” which reuses the system’s water.
All modules of the system – the control hub, the buckets and the lights are available for separate purchase so you can create your own arrangement.
You can control the network of devices through a mobile app that shows you quite a lot of data, log history and notifications.
The company offers residential and commercial options for its hydroponic grow box.
To get a price you need to contact the company through a form on their website.
Being a grow box means that the system looks and is sized like a kitchen appliance rather than a flower pot and it requires connection to the plumbing system (you can fill it and drain it manually, but that seems quite the hassle).
This is especially true for the commercial version which is sized like a wardrobe but is capable of looking after a substantial number of plants.
Both systems intuitively control the environment that is necessary to grow your indoor garden which can include herbs, microgreens, and vegetables.
The residential Urban Cultivator can fit eight plants at once, while its bigger brother can take care of either 16 or 64 pods (depending on their size).
You can control the systems through a dedicated panel on their frame.
The company offers a variety of seeds and accessories for the systems, including the liquid nutrients that are necessary for the growth process.
So, if you are into malt amaranth or maple fenugreek seeds, don’t worry, they’ve got you covered.
OPCOM Farm offers quite the variety of hydroponic gardening systems.
From the home suitable GrowFrame ($249.99) to the enterprise-level GrowWall 2 ($599.99), the company offers solutions that can fit your needs whether you live in a small apartment or own a restaurant and everything in between.
While the GrowFrame is a wall garden, most of the other devices are stackable so you can buy as many as you need if you find the need to grow more than 22 plants.
Of course, the devices are equipped with all kinds of smart technology – from air and water purifiers to automatic feeders.
In line with the high-level of customizability that OPCOM Farm offers, the company also has a large selection of accessories, including spare lights and pH meters.
Adding to the benefits of the systems, some of them feature a “Bio-Air Refresher” – a technology that purifies and oxygenates the air in the room where the device is installed.
Miracle-Gro‘s AeroGarden is a hydroponic gardening system that comes in several sizes and colors.
The cheapest device, Miracle-Gro Aerogarden Sprout comes at $79,95 and can fit up to three plants.
The set-up is easy – you insert the pods, add water and nutrients and let the device do its thing.
The system automatically adjusts the light cycles and reminds you when you need to add more water and nutrients.
If you need something more advanced, the Miracle-Gro Aerogarden Bounty Wi-Fi comes with space for nine plants, a Wi-Fi connection and a price tag of $399.95.
The network connectivity of this device means that you get guides and reminders on your phone, through the AeroGarden app.
Also, you can use the app to join the social media communities of other users so you can exchange ideas and get help if needed.
The company offers other options in between these two, depending on how smart you would like your device to be and how many plants you need to grow.
You also have a choice of a variety of seed kits, accessories, and spare lights.
Smart herb gardens not available for purchase yet
For now, LEAF is only available for pre-order and comes at a hefty price – $300 deposit and $2690 at shipping.
The device, though, is different from the first two in its size and technology.
LEAF is a closed hydroponic system – a. k. a. a grow box.
It’s as big as a mini-fridge, full of sensors, operated through a smartphone app and even features a live stream camera.
Although the mass media publications are racing head over heels in their quest to honor the benefits of LEAF for growing marijuana (as you probably know, the homegrown marijuana business is thriving in states that recently legalized this activity), the device is suitable for most types of herbs and vegetables that can fit inside.
The system, though, is “designed to maximize the potential of one large plant.”
Add to that LEAF’s locking system, and it seems like the mass media outlets are onto something with their… cough… “green” coverage.
Niwa is another upcoming member of the hydroponic grow box family.
The device comes in three option depending on their size – Niwa One Mini, Niwa ONE Standard ($375), and Niwa ONE Premium.
They are currently only available for pre-order.
In addition to the three size options, you can opt for Niwa Maker ($183) which is a “build your own” module.
If you need to grow on a larger scale, the company also offers the Niwa Pro which is a smart hub that automates, monitors and controls the growing process of your plants.
Growing plants with Niwa only takes three steps and there is an app that not only guides you through the growing process but also gives you control over environmental variables such as light, temperature and feeding cycles.
In addition to the stock app, Niwa’s app also offers a community, where users of the device can create and share growing programs that make taking care of the plants easier and smarter.
Niwa relies on its community of users and supporters not only for developing apps but also for contributing data and best practices in taking care of the plants.
The acquired information then goes towards creating “optimal growing programs.”
This grow box is not a hydroponic device.
The folks behind it seem to be very proud of this fact pointing out that “Many hydroponics use chemically infused water [while] Grow Box skips the chemicals and uses only natural methods.”
It might come as a surprise, but apparently, 7sensors uses…sensors to create the necessary climate for your plants.
Lighting, watering, and humidity are intuitively controlled to create an environment that is suitable even for exotic plants, although here, too, the ganja theme is prominent.
Like its competitors, 7sensors is a plug-and-play device, where the setup and plant-specific tweaks are controlled by an app.
The device is patent pending, and there is no info yet on its future price tag.
Nectar is still in its developing stage and is set to begin production in 2018.
The device is a grow box, and like its “colleagues” it aims to take away the hassle of looking after an indoor garden.
From the looks of it, the device can hold four plants (herbs and produce).
Nectar relies on smart technology (NectarSmart™ as they call it) and a bunch of sensors to take care of your plants.
Environmental variables such as temperature, pH level, humidity, and lighting are controlled by Nectar‘s intuitive system.
The inventors of the device are currently working on a smartphone app and seed kits, so the use of the grow box becomes as hassle-free as possible.
If everything goes to plan, 2018 will show what the guys behind Nectar really have to offer on the market for smart indoor herb gardening devices.
The market for smart herb gardens isn’t exactly broad.
Yet, there is plenty of choice for systems that can fit almost any need.
Whether you are looking to step up your decoration game or need some fresh herbs on your plate, these indoor herb gardens take away the guessing from gardening in small spaces.
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Also published on Medium.