Imagine snipping absolutely farm fresh basil onto your pizza. Or brewing a cup of tea with pesticide-free mint straight off the stalk. Having a bunch of organic greens and cherry tomatoes for your salad. Or bunches of colorful pansies and petunias growing on your windowsill.
All this without having to make a trip to the farm. Or even to the farmer’s market. Or department store.
Or having a garden plot.
Or windowsills with good amounts of sunlight.
Or basically putting in any effort whatsoever.
Today, it’s easy to grow all kinds of herbs, vegetables and flowers right on your countertop – any countertop – with innovative gardening systems that require almost no maintenance.
The best ones come with in-built LEDs that simulate sunlight to help with photosynthesis, self-watering reservoirs so you don’t need to keep topping up everyday, notification systems that tell you when the levels are running low and even vacation mode settings so your plants don’t die when you are travelling (that’s my biggest bugbear!).
And these countertop gardens are literally flying off the shelf, since we are not only learning the value of being self-sufficient but also how relaxing and comforting it is to have nature thriving within the walls of our own homes. According to How to Spend It, sales of The Royal Horticultural Society’s vegetable seeds have gone up by 1,293%. Yes, that’s 1,293 per cent.
Besides looking gorgeous and cleansing the air of pollutants, having plants at home is scientifically proven to lower anxiety and stress levels, boost your mood, increase productivity and spark creativity.
So, want to try your hand at indoor gardening? According to gardening and horticultural experts these are the top six countertop systems to choose from. They are almost like working a Nespresso machine – pop in a pod, add water and electricity and bingo. Farm-fresh flavors at home. No green thumb needed.
AeroGarden Bounty Elite
The AeroGarden countertop garden systems use hydroponic technology (where plants grow in water instead of soil). The Bounty Elite, which can grow nine plants at one time, falls in the middle of the range and has been my personal favorite since I saw it at a friend’s house. It’s sleek, comes in a variety of color options and requires barely any maintenance.
Simply pop in a seed kit (there are over 165 to choose from, including flowers, herbs, salad leaves and vegetables or you can plant your own seeds in the Grow Anything Kits), add the supplied plant food and water, then switch on the light. The LED hood gives off 50 watts of white, red and blue lights, making for the full spectrum of sunlight. It’s brightness-adjustable and extends up to 24-inches, which makes it perfect for tall flowers and vegetable, like full size tomatoes and bell peppers. There is also an optional trellis attachment for plants that need the support.
The digital screen displays all the vital statistics (water level, days planted and so on) and gives reminders for when to add things like water and plant food. Add in the WiFi and Alexa compatibility and the one-button Vacation Mode feature and this is one of the most advanced countertop indoor garden ever.
LeGrow Self Watering Indoor Planter
LeGrow’s porcelain white modular units (which look super-chic, by the way!) can be stacked alongside each other to make an indoor garden as big or as small as you want! Each unit can grow one plant – no pre-seeded pods here, so you can plant literally anything. And the self-watering planters hold up to 30 ml of water, so you need to top them up less frequently. If you don’t get adequate sun, add on the TG-06 LED Lamp, which simulates sunlight for eight hours everyday to help the plant grow optimally. This is possibly the most economical and adaptable countertop garden system available right now.
Click & Grow Smart Garden
One of the original countertop gardens, the Click & Grow comes with an option of three or nine pods. The 50+ bio-degradable pod varietals are pre-prepared with the “smart soil” (a patented nano-material that automatically releases nutrients, oxygen and water in optimally calibrated doses) and seeds, ranging from flowers and herbs to vegetables and salads. There’s also an Experimental Plant Pod, to which you can add any of your own seeds. Just fill the water reservoir, attach the pods and switch on the sunlight-simulating LED light – and enjoy watching your greens sprout to life!
It’s perfect for small spaces and has easy portability, standing at just over a foot wide and four pounds in weight. The water tank holds up to one month’s supply, which means your plants are safe even if you’re travelling. And there’s an easy-to-read water level indicator, so you know when to top up!
Greenjoy Indoor Hydroponic Garden Kit
Greenjoy’s hydroponic system lets you grow up to 15 plants at the same time, including larger vegetables like Swiss chard or kale. It uses a sponge-based system instead of soil, along with full spectrum LED lights to mimic sunshine plus a fan for imitating natural breeze.
The latter is something I’ve not seen in any other countertop gardening system.
Simply add your own seeds, pour water to the basin and top up with the included nutrients when indicated by the notification light and you’re all set to raise innumerable kinds of fruits, herbs and vegetables!
Modern Sprout Growframe
Don’t have countertop or floor space to grow your plants? Modern Sprout’s Growframe can be hung on the wall and is designed to look like a work of art. The greenhouse design provides optimal humidity for getting your plants going indoors (no pods here – you will need your own seedlings or clippings, which translates into infinite variety). Simply mount, add plants and set the app timer for the LED light, which falls into within 400 nanometer (nm) to 700 nm wavelengths, perfect for Chlorophyll A and B to manufacture sugar to fuel plant growth.
Or, in plain english, it looks like sunlight and feels like sunlight for plants. And humans. Plus, there’s a “tranquil fading” feature for when the lights go and or off, to mimic the effect of dawn or dusk. Download the Modern Sprout phone app to control lights or set them on a timer.
Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Growing Kit
This kit offers something totally unique – grow your own mushrooms. Just open the box, mist the plant-based soil that’s pre-seeded with mushroom spawn and have your own batch of fresh fungi in just 10 days! Each crop produces around four servings of pearl oyster mushrooms and each box can grow up two crops. That’s a lot of pizzas and mushroom risotto.
Up for a spot of indoor gardening?