Welcome to the amazing world of smart indoor gardens! If you are like me and cannot seem to find a way to let your garden grow, you cannot manage to remember to water the plants in your apartment, or simply do not have time to care for your indoor greenery, the smart gardens can come to your help!
There are several choices out there, as the market of smart gadgets for the house is expanding. Let’s have a look at some of the most interesting and compare some of the devices.
What is a smart garden?
The idea behind a smart garden is quite simple. Everybody enjoys having fresh herbs to use in their kitchen or nice flowers to stare at, but not everyone is able to plant and take care of plants or, simply, not everyone has the right environment/knowledge for the plants to thrive.
The more common issues are:
- Lack of daylight – perhaps the windows in your apartment do not have the correct exposure for your plants to absorb the beams of sun;
- lack of time – you always work late or rush around all day and forget to water your pots;
- mistakes – do you know what is the correct amount of water for a plant of basil?
These devices will solve all these issues for you.
It is as simple as inserting the pods of choice, load the tank with water and connect to a socket. The machine will provide the light, it waters the plants for you and ensure that they grow healthy until ready for the harvest. They are also supposed to sprout faster, due to optimised soil and controlled environment.
Some of the more advanced model will also provide information about the status of the plants, even incorporate a virtual assistant like Alexa, but let’s keep it simple, right?
Finally, an important parameter for this review is indeed the affordability. Therefore, the selection below is taking into consideration only the basic models that the companies are offering.
Prêt à Pousser – the smart garden that feels like home
The first smart garden is from a French company called Pret a Pousser. The company claims that:
The seeds come from special selected seed companies in France. The aromatic seeds are organic and grow in peat and coconut fiber. Our pods are made out of bioplastic and are biodegradable: when your plants grow tired you can repot them or compost them.from the Prêt à Pousser website.
Lilo has a design that is familiar and clear, formed of three small elegant vases, will fit in your kitchen or living room as element of contemporary decor. The vases are made of bamboo and are environmental-friendly. Even the pods used to grow the plants are biodegradable, to avoid any negative impact on the environment.
Lilo is provided with a light that will turn on and off automatically to reproduce the natural day/night cycle. With its 37 LED light consumes only 6.5W.
The watering is taken care of through its hydroponic system and you only need to fill the tank with water any few weeks.
- organic seeds and biodegradable materials,
- good selection of seeds, 38 between herbs, vegetables and flowers,
- the seeds will sprout in only 3-10 days,
- extremely compact,
- elegant and familiar design,
- Light exposure modes “spring” and “summer,
- harvest after only one month.
- the same light for all the plants,
- only has space for three plants,
- can accomodate only one salad at the time due to reduced dimensions,
- mobile app not available,
- seeds in purchased pods only, can’t use own seeds.
If you are interested in purchasing Lilo, it can be bought here (UK – USA).
Click and Grow – the smart garden inspired by NASA
Click and Grow have a mission: bringing the benefit of living with plants to people living in urban areas.
The journey of their smart gardens started back in 2012, and after many prototypes and products launched they have now developed an elegant solution that will help you experience a garden inside your house.
After reading a NASA report about growing plants in space, Mattias Lepp became inspired to develop the first ever indoor garden that took care of plants automatically. After working with universities around the world to fine-tune the technology, the concept of the Click & Grow Smart Garden was born.
from the Click & Grow website
Their proud is the smart soil inspired by NASA. The growth medium contains a nanostructure which helps water and nutrients to be evenly distributed to the roots. The plants will always absorb the correct nutrients in an optimised environment that is set to achieve the right ph.
The devices is made out of thermoplastic and the design is adjustable to allow for the plants to grow.
The LED lights consume 8W of power, a bit more than Lilo, but still quite a good result.
- growth medium made of renewable materials with no pesticides, fungicides or hormones.,
- good selection of seeds, 55 between herbs, vegetables and flowers,
- the lights can be adjusted to the correct height to give space to the plants’ growth,
- biodegradable pods,
- the seeds will start sprouting in only 3 days,
- compact and contemporary design,
- It is possible to use any seed you want thanks to the experimental plant pods,
- materials are not biodegradable
- only has space for three plants,
- mobile app not available,
AeroGarden – the soil-free smart garden
Probably Harvest by AeroGarden has the less accomplished design between the three smart gardens. For clarity, Harvest is not the basic device of the range, the company sells a smaller device (Sprout) which is also cheaper, but for the sake of this comparison, I picked the device with a similar selling price.
The company claims that the plants will grow 5 times faster than in a normal outdoor garden thanks to the optimised light with integrated timer.
The Harvest’s grow light hood contains 20 watts of white, red and blue LED lights, giving your plants the full spectrum of sunlight they need to grow, and grow quickly! Plants grow 5X faster than in a traditional outdoor garden.
from the AeroGarden website
The timer will also notify when it needs water or when it is time to add the liquid feed to provide the roots with the necessary nutrients. This is probably the main difference with the smart gardens we have seen previously. Harvest does not need soil but the system works with water and liquid feed only.
But Harvest somehow feels like a more flexible device. Indeed you can buy their pre-seeded pods but, if you prefer, you can rather use the seeds of your choice with their ‘Grow Anything Kits’,
- ‘Grow Anything Kits’,
- Can accomodate up to 6 plants,
- reminders for water and plant food,
- very big catalogue of seeds including 45 herbs, 47 flowers, 44 salads and 40 vegetables
- Look not as elegant as the other devices, ‘industrial look’,
- need to buy additional liquid feed.