I really like the idea of growing my own food, but as lazy and as busy as I am, I’m not sure planting and cultivating a garden out back is going to be realistic this year (with a second baby on the way). Growing a small indoor garden with almost zero effort, on the other hand, sounds much more doable. I would know: I’ve tried both over the last year.
Last year my wife and I tried planting a traditional garden in our back yard. We thought it would be fun. We picked out a sunny spot, bought some materials from Lowes, bought some dirt and seeds and got to building and planting. Hmm. Turns out just getting that garden started was a lot of work. And then remembering to water it enough and pick our fruits and veggies before they went bad or before the bugs got to them became new chores.
I don’t regret starting that garden. It was fun and rewarding and made me appreciate our modern food chain a lot more. But there is definitely an easier, techier way to grow food: Click and Grow.
Click and Grow is a smart garden that takes almost all the effort out of gardening. It’s a system that consists of a special light, a water tank and special seeds and dirt. It grows food quickly and is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter. Essentially, all you have to do is pick out the type of plant you’d like to grow, plug it in and water it about once a month.
I’ve been testing my Click and Grow for 43 days now (which may be a record review time for me since it wasn’t merely a matter of unpacking and writing about it in this case). The company sent me a starter pack of 3 basil plant capsules and I have to say I am very impressed.
Here are my observations, but first have a look at the bestselling indoor gardens on Amazon for comparison.
Bestseller Indoor Gardens
- Behrens 3-OV 16-Gallon Oval Steel Tub
- Whiskey Barrel Planter, Distressed Oak, 20.5"
- Hydrofarm Net Cup, 3-Inch, 12-Pack
- Succulent Planter Round,6 inch Modern White Ceramic Decorative Garden pots and Planters with Bamboo Tray
- 11.1 inch long rectangle White Ceramic Succulent Planter Pots / Mini Flower Plant Containers with Bamboo Saucers. Product size:11.1x2.36x1.77inch. (long rectangle)
The container, light and water tank
Let’s start with the Click and Grow’s looks, which are overall quite attractive. Since this is meant to be an indoor garden, it’s safe to assume that it will be in a place where people will see it frequently. And since most people will be growing food (there are more food plant capsules than non-food ones), it’s safe to assume most people will be storing their Click and Grow in the kitchen. That’s exactly what I did and I’ve had almost no problems with it being there.
The all-white look of the Click and Grow I received looks nice. It’s a design that could easily fit into a high-end home’s kitchen. It looks designy and modern and sleek — which is great.
Unfortunately, the plastic used to construct the Click and Grow is a quite light and has a cheap feel to it. I guess it is a good thing that you wouldn’t know that from looking at it. But I was definitely surprised by how low-quality the plastic felt.
At the end of the day, though, the Click and Grow is sturdy enough for what it does: sit there and grow plants. It hasn’t broken and I’m not afraid it will — I just wish it felt a bit more “premium” but I understand the materials used help to keep the price down to an affordable $60. Maybe in the future the company could produce alternative versions with some wood accents?
The size of the Click and Grow is really nice. It’s not too big so it doesn’t take up much space on your counter. It’s a little longer than a typical load of bread, and about as thick. I know each house is a bit different, but the Click and Grow easily fits underneath the cabinets above my kitchen counter.
The light used by the Click and Grow to spur plant growth isn’t an ordinary light. It’s specifically designed to make plants germinate and grow faster. It’s also adjustable so you can move it up or down depending on how tall the plants you are growing are at any given stage.
But there’s one aspect about the light that is a bit of an annoyance and that is the fact that it’s at it’s brightest for 16 hours out of every day. That may or may not be an issue for you, but at night it’s basically a really bright night light which is definitely strong enough to creep under closed doors. Also, the time you plug the Click and Grow in determines the light schedule (I wish this was controllable via the app, but it doesn’t appear to be).
Total electricity bill for running the Click and Grow for 1 year? $3.
The Click and Grow’s water tank is pretty cool. Rather than watering the actual plants themselves, you just fill up the water reservoir through a space on the side of the garden. And you really only need to do this about once a month (at least for the basil I grew). The app then notifies you when it is time to water your plants again, so you don’t even have to remember!
But I will say that filling up the water tank is a bit messy. That’s because there is a float in the opening that lets you know when you’ve added enough water. When that float reaches the top and is level with the surface, it’s at max capacity. But that float can also reflect and splash some of the water you’re adding, so you’ll want to water it slowly.
The plant capsules
So what can you grow with the Click and Grow? Here’s a comprehensive list for you:
- Chili Peppers
- Mini Tomatoes
- Basil (and Dwarf and Red Basil)
- Lemon Balm
- Wild Strawberries
- Moss Rose
- Painted Nettle
Each plant comes in a plant capsule (or refill capsule — same thing) and each Click and Grow can hold three plant capsules.
And the plant capsules are really interesting. They contain what Click and Grow calls Smart Soil which is NASA-inspired and has a few nifty tricks up it’s sleeve: it releases nutrients when the plant needs them depending on what stage the plant is in during it’s life cycle, maintains the proper pH balance uses mini pockets of oxygen to help plants breathe better.
In case you are wondering, Click and Grow plants are completely GMO free.
I can only attest to the Basil capsules, since they are the only ones I have tried, but they grew quickly, smelled awesome and tasted great. I had no real issues with them at all. The one thing I would say you should watch out for, though, is letting your Basil plants reach the light like I did. Once mine hit the light it looked like some of the leaves became “burned” (or got brown, anyways — even thought the light isn’t hot, per se).
One cool thing about the Basil plants (which I learned from the app) is that you can keep trimming them so that you don’t have to replace them every time you harvest. Apparently, as long as you leave at least two leaves on the plant it can regrow. I tried it and it worked great for me. I wonder if you could keep one of these Basil plants growing forever…?
My Basil was destined to become a pizza topping and I have to say, it tasted so good. There’s nothing like fresh ingredients when you’re cooking — nothing. One of these days I might end up trying to make some homemade pesto!
Based on the Basil, I can’t wait to try several different plant refill capsules. High on my list are peppers, tomatoes and oregano.
For being a smart garden, the Click and Grow app is both less smart and more useful than I expected. I guess in my mind I expected to be able to turn things on and off with the app or activate special powers at the push of a button, but in reality the app is basically a source of information and reminders.
The main uses for the app are introducing you to your new Click and Grow via a nicely produced how-to video, telling you more about your plants and telling you when it’s time to water.
That said, you’ll be able to “track” each plant by seeing a visual of it’s growth cycle (which you can speed up or slow down with your finger, to help you envision what it will look like after a given amount of time). You’ll also be able to take photos of each plant to keep in an album, which, frankly, I never used and you’ll be able to see the date you planted each plant and how long it has been planted.
It just so happens that it is time for me to water my herb garden right now as I write this review (I didn’t plan that) and the app is quite insistent. It reminded me just now, 9 minutes ago, 11 minutes ago, 23 minutes ago and an hour ago. I think that’s a good thing: if it didn’t remind me, I’d probably end up killing my plants.
The app itself is very well designed. I’m always somewhat surprised when a smart home gadget comes with a nice looking, well thought and well executed app because so many (from some big names) are so terrible. But this app is clean and minimal and does it’s job well.
The pricing for the Click and Grow itself is pretty reasonable at about $60. But the pricing for plant capsule refills feels kind of like a “gotcha” — in other words, it feels way, way too expensive. Each plant individually costs about $6.66 to buy (sold in 3-packs for $19.95). That means that if you replaced your plants every 3 months, the plant refills would cost more than the actual Click and Grow garden itself. And if you do that every year, it’s an expense that really starts to add up.
Still, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the convenience of having fresh ingredients or growing your own flowers indoors with almost no effort is worth the pretty steep cost.
I’m a big fan of the Click and Grow smart garden. Not only does the food it produces smell and taste delicious, but it’s fun to watch the plants grow and I enjoy having living plants in the kitchen. Despite the pricey refills, I find myself wanting to try as many different plants as I can over the next year and I’d even consider buying another Click and Grow garden (or two)!
If you love fresh ingredients, smart home technology in general or are specifically looking for an awesome indoor herb garden, you can’t go wrong with the Click and Grow. This is the best indoor garden I’ve seen (there are certainly alternatives) though it’s the only one I’ve actually tried.