Imagine having a bunch of organic greens and cherry tomatoes for your salad growing right in your kitchen.
Or brewing a cup of tea with pesticide-free mint straight off the stalk.
Or snipping absolutely farm fresh basil onto your pizza.
Or bunches of colorful pansies and petunias growing on your desk.
All this without having to make a trip to the farm. Or even to the farmer’s market. Or grocery store.
A way of indoor gardening right in your living space sans any requirements of garden beds. Or a lot of space. Or windowsills with good amounts of sunlight.
Or basically putting in any effort whatsoever.
Which makes them absolutely perfect for apartment dwellers.
What are indoor garden systems?
Today, it’s easy to grow all kinds of fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers right on your countertop — any countertop, including work desks and bedside tables — with innovative indoor gardening systems that require almost no maintenance.
Which means you don’t need a green thumb, much space, direct sunlight, or twiddling with things like soil moisture, peat moss, water levels and growing medium.
These indoor gardening kits also use less water than traditional plant pots and are a great way to dress up an indoor space.
The best ones come with in-built ‘plant grow lights’ that simulate sunlight to help with photosynthesis, self-watering reservoirs so you don’t need to top up everyday, notification systems that tell you when the levels are running low and even vacation mode settings so your indoor plants don’t die when you are travelling (that’s my biggest bugbear!).
And these indoor garden systems, from the Aerogarden Harvest to Click ‘n Grow, 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.
The (mental AND physical) benefits of indoor gardening
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.
And it stands to reason.
Besides looking gorgeous and cleansing the air of pollutants, science establishes that surrounding yourself with a few plants at home — even if its a few greens or flowers — has very real benefits.
These include stress reduction, higher energy and focus levels, decrease in chronic inflammation, protection against diabetes, drop in blood pressure, increased feelings of positivity, heightened immunity, better sleep. And better skin.
Plus, what could be better than having the option of fresh produce or tiny pink roses growing right in your living room? It’s a plant lovers dream, right?
Therapy at its best.
Which are the best indoor gardening systems?
So, want to try your hand at growing your own herbs, vegetables and flowers at home? According to gardening and horticultural experts these are the best indoor garden 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, leafy greens and colorful flowers at home, even if you have limited space.
No green thumb needed.
AeroGarden Bounty Elite
The AeroGarden indoor garden systems is a hydroponic system, 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 the seed pods (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 — so you can grow your easily even when actual sunshine is in short supply.
It’s brightness-adjustable and extends up to 24-inches, which makes it a good choice for larger plants, like full size tomatoes and bell peppers.
There is also an optional trellis attachment for plants that need the additional support to grow taller with time.
The digital screen displays all the vital statistics (humidity levels, 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 gardens 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 containers 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 plant grow lights, which simulate sunlight for eight hours everyday to help the plant grow optimally.
This is possibly the most economical and adaptable indoor gardening system available right now.
Click & Grow Smart Garden
One of the original indoor hydroponic 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 soilless potting mix made from 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 plant grow lights — 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 indoor hydroponic garden system lets you grow up to 15 different 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 plant grow lights to mimic sunshine plus a fan for imitating natural breeze.
The latter is something I’ve not seen in any other indoor 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 plant grow lights, which fall 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 to control light intensity, which mimics 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 starter kit, 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.