It’s summer, which means lots of time in the garden for homeowners. And while some city dwellers have access to community or rooftop gardens, not everyone is so lucky. It’s no wonder that, with the advent of smart devices and techniques such as hydroponics (growing plants without soil), more people are moving the practice indoors. Think you can’t have homegrown tomatoes, apartment people? Think again.
Below are eight gizmos designed to help you grow your garden indoors — we also have a roundup of the best home and garden gadgets, if you’re looking to further smarten your gardening routine.
Grove Labs’ aquaponics garden ($4,200-plus)
Designed by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology frat brothers, this intensive indoor system runs on hydroponics. Consisting of a cabinet outfitted with LED lights and sensors, the boxes hold both plants and an aquarium. Users can monitor the temperature, humidity, and water level of their indoor ecosystem. Bacteria produce fertilizer for the plants from fish waste, which in turn clean the fish’s water. The optional $25 monthly subscription box provides seed varieties — users can grow tomatoes, chard, peppers, herbs, and kale. It takes at least three months for the company to custom build your garden, with prices starting at $4,200. Read more here.
Click & Grow ($53-plus)
If you want to grow something indoors but are too tired, Click & Grow can pretty much do the trick for you. It automatically provides the right amount of water and nutrients for your herbs. Plant them, fill up the water reservoir, and watch ‘em grow. An LED grow light supplies a boost for drab apartments, too. For $120, you get a system that can grow chili peppers, mini tomatoes, salad rocket, basil, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, and strawberry plants. Read more here.
Nthing’s Planty ($149-plus)
Nthing’s Planty uses sensors to monitor soil humidity, temperature, and light, while providing you with updates about your plant’s growing conditions directly on your smartphone. Afraid it’s too chilly for your rhododendron? Planty will let you know. A 17-ounce reservoir holds water, so you don’t have to rely on your absentminded neighbor to stop by when you’re out of town. Unlike the Grove Labs and Click & Grow models, the Planty isn’t really geared toward food production. Instead, it’s designed around the plants that bring pleasure instead of plenty. After a recent Kickstarter campaign, the company is selling the units for $149 each, plus $32 shipping.
Can’t possibly spare a square inch of space for a plant? Look to Urbio. It’s a wall-mounted vertical garden that’s meant for succulents or cacti — aka, things that don’t need much water. The individual containers have neodymium magnets inside, so their arrangement is up to you. You’ll need to furnish the pumice stones, soil, and plants yourself, but the containers are of varying sizes and shapes, so they don’t need to all be for greenery. If you hang it above your desk, it doubles as an organizer, so go ahead and stick your stapler in one of the holders. Kits start at $75.
Another entry in the hydroponics-at-home category, Niwa supplies nutrient-rich water to whatever you’re growing. Size-wise, it sits between the Grove and the Click & Grow models. It definitely takes a bit of space to grow those peppers and tomatoes. Using an accompanying smartphone app, you can control the temperature, humidity, light, and airflow. If you’d rather the device do the work for you, just tell it what you’ve planted and leave the rest up to the Niwa. It definitely looks a little more science-project-y than some of the other options on our list, but we kind of dig the futuristic aesthetic. The company still plans to ship later his summer, and you can pre-order a Niwa Mini now for $297. Read more here.
In May, Ikea announced it was getting into hydroponics. The newly announced system, dubbed the Krydda/Växer, allows you to grows plants without any soil. Foam plugs ensure your plants get the right amount of water, and once your seedlings sprout, you can move everything to its own container, which you fill with pumice stones. Then, you can place all the containers in the growing tray, which is equipped with a grow lamp. The idea is that as long as you add water, Ikea’s system makes growing plants easier than assembling its furniture. While the system is currently for sale in Europe, Ikea hasn’t yet released the kit in the United States.
If you’re willing to wait until 2018, there’s always Nectar. At 4-feet tall, it’s no countertop garden. Loaded with sensors, the hydroponic system from Hummingbird Technologies can be set to a specific temperature, humidity, and pH balance to help re-create various environments for plants and produce. The app-controlled box will use machine learning to figure out the best conditions for your plants and should adjust itself accordingly. The creators say it could even be used for marijuana, should that be your crop of choice. Read more here.
Grobo promises to make light work of indoor gardening with its 53 LED lights. Just under 4-feet tall and 14 inched by 14 -inches, the smartphone-controlled growing tower lets you change the wavelength and spectrum of the bulbs. You can set a watering schedule directly within the app, allowing you to douse whatever’s growing inside up to eight times a day. There are included nutrient capsules, too, and once you select your “recipe” in the app, the Grobo will adjust the water, light, and nutrient levels on your behalf. It also has lots of sensors, so you can get a better picture of your plants’ overall health. This pricey system is currently available for pre-order for $899, which, believe it or not, is a whopping $400 off the retail price. Read more here.
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