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Grow your own plants in 2020



Harvest your own food indoors with a grow kit that fits your lifestyle (and plant care prowess), whether that’s a high-tech smart garden or a simple starter tray.

Gardening at home is not limited to people with large gardens — or even to people with sunny windowsills. With the right tools, anyone who wants to grow their own vegetables or fresh herbs indoors can find a way to do it.

Indoor gardening kits range from high tech to very simple. Your needs will vary based on your budget, the plants you want to grow, and the space you have available, but you’ll likely be able to pull something off, even if you have to hang your garden on the wall. We believe in you.

What should I grow?

If you just want to start your plants indoors, then move them to an outdoor garden, your crop options are pretty much endless. If you must grow your garden entirely indoors, though, there are a few plants that have the best chance of thriving.

First, microgreens. These cute little salad enhancers are actually just regular plants harvested in the seedling stage, but they’re nutrient-dense and flavourful. A successful microgreens operation will likely save you some cash, too — microgreens can be quite expensive.


Tiny salad greens not your thing? You can also opt for full-size lettuces and herbs, many of which have shallow enough roots to thrive inside. Fruits like strawberries and tomatoes can also be nudged along indoors, particularly using a hydroponic system. Hydroponics is a gardening method in which plants are grown in a nutrient-rich solution instead of in soil. The AeroGarden and its competitors are hydroponic systems.

What other supplies will I need?

If you opt for a smart garden like the AeroGarden Harvest Elite or Click & Grow Smart Garden, you probably won’t need many other supplies. For other types of indoor garden systems, however, you may want some extras to help you along.

If your system doesn’t have a grow light and your living space is dark, consider a separate LED grow light to ensure your plants get the “sun” they deserve. And if you’re not going the hydroponic route, you may also want a special indoor potting mix in lieu of regular garden soil. You can even make it yourself.

Finally, make sure your plants have adequate drainage. This is built into many of the systems below, but if you use your own tiny grower’s pots to fill a tray, be sure water isn’t able to collect at the bottom. This contributes to root rot.

What is a smart garden?

Thank you for asking. A smart garden is a small, indoor gardening device that uses self-watering, built-in grow light features, and automated reminders to allow gardeners to grow small plants in environments without natural light or nutrient-dense soil. 

This hands-off approach is potentially great for people who have trouble taking care of plants themselves, but keep in mind that the systems aren’t cheap. You’ll also have to use the brand’s proprietary plant pods instead of normal seeds and rebuy them as needed.

We have tracked down a selection of some of the best indoor garden systems, with both low and high-tech options included. There is something for everyone in this list.

These are the best indoor garden systems in 2020.

Smart features • Lots of pod spaces • Automatic timer

Grows AeroGarden pods only

The AeroGarden is an easy-to-use, full-service smart garden that will work in any environment.

AeroGarden Harvest Elite

This smart, six-pod AeroGarden allows you to grow herbs, salad leaves, and other veggies pretty much anywhere.

  • Self-watering feature:
  • Built-in grow light:
  • Best for:
    Herbs, tomatoes, salad greens
If you’ve researched indoor gardening even a little, you’ll know that AeroGarden is super popular.
The AeroGarden Harvest Elite is a six-pod smart garden with pretty much all the features you could want: an LED grow light, an extendable lamp arm, automatic controls, and a control panel that reminds you to add food, water, and light. It is a pod-based system, though, so you won’t be able to use your own seeds unless you purchase a Grow Anything Seed Pod Kit, which is sold separately. 
If you don’t have particular seed preferences, though, you’ll do just fine with the pods included with the Harvest Elite, which are curly parsley, dill, thyme, mint, and two varieties of basil. According to AeroGarden, plants can grow up to 12 inches tall before they’ll need to be repotted.

Can be placed anywhere • Not dependent on sunlight • Lots of features

Refill pods can get expensive

This smart garden is another good option for people who want a truly tech-y experience.

Click and Grow Smart Garden 3

This smart garden has all the features you could want — if you’re cool with using its pods.

  • Self-watering feature:
  • Built-in grow light:
  • Best for:
    Herbs, vegetables, microgreens
Like the AeroGarden, this smart garden has pretty much every feature you could think of, including self-watering capabilities, an LED grow light, a timer for that grow light, and a lamp extender. It’s a bit more lightweight than the AeroGarden, which gives it a slight edge in portability. Its grow light is not quite as bright, though.
Users are able to able to grow three plants at a time in the Smart Garden, three of which are included with the unit. The downside is that, as with the AeroGarden Harvest Elite, the unit only takes those plant pods. If you want to plant your own seeds, you’ll need to place them in a Click & Grow Experimental Pod (sold separately).
If you want an indoor garden that’s a bit less futuristic, opt for the Chef’n Microgreen Growing Kit or one of the other less expensive items on this list. But if you’re cool with your garden being tech-y — and, hey, that definitely comes with some upsides — this one might be for you. 

Not self-watering • No grow light

Want a basic setup for growing microgreens? This is a solid pick at a budget-friendly price.

Chef’n Microgreen Grower

This affordable microgreen starter kit comes with a growing tray, soil, and a starter pack of seeds.

  • Self-watering feature:
  • Built-in grow light:
  • Best for:
Microgreens are some of the easiest plants to grow inside: All you need is a tray, water, soil, and seeds. This microgreen growing kit from Chef’n includes all of the above — plus, it’ll look attractive on your countertop or windowsill without costing you a lot of cash.
It’s worth noting that the Chef’n kit does not have a built-in grow light and is not self-watering, which admittedly makes sense for the price. Still, reviewers appear to have had largely pleasant experiences.
This grow kit is also slim enough to fit on most windowsills and surfaces  — even in small kitchens.

Super afforable • Easy drip irrigation • Space saver

Needs frequent watering • Can’t hold much soil

If you don’t have the space for a flat indoor garden, consider a hanging pocket garden like this one instead.

Ogrmar Vertical Wall Garden Planter

This space-saving hanging garden has plenty of pockets and attaches to the wall.

  • Self-watering feature:
  • Built-in grow light:
  • Best for:
Pocket gardens are useful for people who don’t have space. This 18-pocket option from Ogrmar, for instance, can be mounted to a wall, thus making it an unobtrusive option for small homes. Each pocket is made of thick, moisture-wicking fabric. When filled — especially with lush-looking herbs — you’ll get that pretty, ethereal “plant wall” effect.
Reviewers say this pocket garden may work for , as the pockets are too small to hold much soil. They also recommend using as many nails or screws to mount the garden as possible, since it gets heavy fast. 
Finally, if you’re using a fabric pocket garden on an interior wall, consider placing a tarp onto the wall before mounting as an added layer of protection. Otherwise, your wall might sustain water damage. 

Unique and whimsical • Partially self-cleaning

If you’re in the market for a fish tank and an indoor garden tray, this is a weirdly fantastic two-in-one.

BIGHAVE Mini Aquaponic Ecosystem

A garden that’s also a fish tank? It’s fun and functional.

  • Self-watering feature:
  • Built-in grow light:
  • Best for:
    Microgreens, herbs, flowers
Been looking for an indoor garden that’s also a fish tank? Okay, maybe not, but this would still make a great gift (or addition to your own kitchen).
The whole thing functions as a closed-loop ecosystem: Fish waste is filtered away to serve as plant food, which in turn cleans the water in the tank. You’ll still need to clean the tank periodically, but not as often as you would with a standard one.
Best of all, the BIGHAVE Mini Aquaponic Ecosystem sounds genuinely fun to use. It is easy to set up and you see results within days. What’s not to like?

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