I am not a person who keeps plants alive. Two dogs and a human, I can manage but for some reason, remembering to water an indoor plant is not something that makes it into my daily routine. So when my mother-in-law got me a “Smart Garden 3” from Click and Grow, I was slightly skeptical that I would not be successful at growing lovely herbs in my kitchen.
But once I read a little more, I realized that the entire smart indoor growing system was designed to be idiot-proof setup and equipped with enough technology to barely need any human involvement or interaction at all. (This are the kinds of tech I am here for: devices that make up for my shortcomings. I’m one personal trainer robot away from living my best life.) Click and Grow is the Keurig of indoor gardens and took the idea of putting coffee in pods and instead, put a combination of seeds and nutrient-rich soil inside “plant capsules.”
In addition to the three basil capsules that came with my Smart Garden 3 (you can get bigger gardens and therefore, grow more capsules at one time), Click and Grow allows users to order different herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables from their site or on Amazon. It even has a subscription program where you can sign up to receive regular deliveries of pods.
The device itself was a little smaller than I expected – but also taller, and the shelf I planned to put it on was too narrow. The bottom of the garden has a holding tank for the water as well as three circular spots for each seed pod.
The overhanging handle at the top is the grow light – a completely automated light I might add that rotates when the light is on and the intensity of light based on best grow practices for the plant you are growing.
On the top of each pod is a QR code – this is where the “smart” part of the name comes in. The garden comes out of the box just like this, so the first step in the instructions is to download the Click and Grow app.
The app is easy to navigate and once you open it, it prompts you to choose what indoor garden device you have and then you’re able to add plants to your garden. The QR code on the top of each plant capsule is scannable in the app, and the above screen appears with the plant’s “birthday” and details. You can also rename them to help you remember which plant is which – helpful especially if you are planting three of the same kind. (They also give you the old fashioned garden tags you can write on that stick up from each capsule.)
If you click the water icon, you can record when you watered your plant, therefore giving the app the ability to remind you when it’s time to water again. But because the water tank underneath holds more water than each plant needs daily and doles it out according to the plant’s needs, you don’t have to water daily. Or even weekly. Every 13-14 days, you have to fill the tank back up, but the device itself has a visual cue in addition to the app.
(The app has additional functionality like an album where you can upload pictures of the plant as it grows and a grow icon where you can put in measurements. I…am not that involved in my basil’s growth. I know, neglectful. My son is the one who checks on it daily.)
Once you scan each plant into your app, you remove the tops to each capsule which reveals another white cover, this time with a hole in the middle. This is where the plant will inevitably emerge as it grows. The kit also comes with three plastic domes and the instructions say to take each dome and place it on the top of each capsule to create a greenhouse-like environment for the seeds and soil. Once you start to see greenery and the plants begin to grow, you can remove the domes.
The next step was to add water. There is a rectangular spot on the top of the garden next to the capsule spots and the indicator inside rises as you add water. I counted the number of cups it took to fill the tank and it was around seven cups for the model of indoor garden I am using (Smart Garden 3).
The final step of setup is to plug in the garden. The instructions do warn you that the light basically rotates – 18 hours on, 6 hours off – so if you don’t want your device to go on in the middle of the night, you should plug it in for the first time in the morning. I guess that would matter more if you were keeping your indoor garden near your bedroom or you lived in a small apartment. Ours is on the kitchen counter, far from our beds and not where anyone is usually in the middle of the night, so I plugged it in the afternoon. Sure enough, ours cycles off as I’m waking up for the day. The light is pretty bright though, it’s almost as strong as the overhead light above our kitchen sink.
RESULTS: We are only a little over two weeks in, but so far, it’s been one of the easiest plant-growing experiences I have ever had. I’ve watered it a total of one time and the plants are finally started to grow little basil leaves. They look incredibly green and healthy and my four-year-old son is fascinated by them.
Click and Grow says it can take 4-6 weeks to have fully matured plants but they can last for a while, and you’re encouraged to trim them in a way that promotes regeneration.
I’m looking forward to having fresh basil right from my own kitchen and I’m already trying to decide what to grow next – lettuce or strawberries or flowers?! Too many to choose from. I can definitely see the appeal of systems like these – they are budget friendly (the startup kit was $50 for the device and the basil capsules) at least to start – and they give you the option to have fresh produce in any season with little effort.
If you read some of the Amazon reviews, many people point out that the refills themselves are pricey – up to $20 for rosemary and tomatoes. Given that plant seeds are a dollar or two at any garden shop, that price might prove unsustainable. However, there seem to be plenty of online guides on how to take the pods and make your own capsules to work with the system.
I’ll post an update when we have fully grown plants and we taste our first harvest.