"These systems are designed to be a no-brainer," says gardening expert Vanessa Dawson, founder and CEO of Arber, an organic, biologicals plant wellness company. By that she means they're easy to set up and maintain, which can save you a lot of time. They're also great if you don't have a ton of space. Plus, an indoor gardening system makes it possible to enjoy the benefits of fresh food year round.
A lot of the best indoor gardening systems are focused on growing herbs, greens, and vegetables, according to Dawson. “It’s a fabulous way to enjoy healthy, self-grown food, and can even help decrease your carbon footprint," she says.
Though there are definitely benefits to using an indoor gardening system, Dawson notes that there are some potential issues to be aware of as well: "Nutrient deficiency is a major issue across all indoor plants and systems," she says. Since nutrients get fully absorbed and then are not replaced naturally as they would be outdoors, it’s critical to use a good soil fertilizer and immunity boosting insecticide (like Arber’s Bio Protectant), according to Dawson. Pests and diseases may feel more intrusive than if you found them outdoors, because, ya know, they're inside your home. "Finally, a number of these new indoor growing systems use hydroponics or water instead of soil. There can be a few hurdles with cheaper systems such as leaking, poor lighting, broken pumps, and other issues that come with more technical setups," she says.
That's why it's important to do your research when choosing an indoor gardening system. "If you are looking for a hydroponic setup, you want high-efficiency LED lights that can plug into your standard power outlets," Dawson says. She also advises to choose the plants you grow indoors wisely, as some will fare better indoors than others, including mushrooms and microgreens . And lastly, she recommends choosing a modular system, because you can start small and add on, which allows your garden to grow (ha) with you.
"In order of from least expensive and simple to more complex, here are my top five picks to get growing indoors," Dawson says.
Dawson is a fan of this brand because they offer a wide variety of grow kits, from mushrooms to herbs to succulents, that are “fun for the kids and targeted toward a novice gardener.” This one is a bestseller on Amazon, and is super easy to use—simply place the box near a window with indirect light, mist it with water twice a day, and within a week you should see your shrooms beginning to grow.
Hamama makes “microgreen kits that are affordable, simple, and nutritious,” Dawson says. (Seriously, microgreens contain a ton of nutrients.) “These are the perfect way to get growing without a massive investment and it’s a modular unit that can grow with you.” There’s a variety of microgreens to choose from, like hearty broccoli, hot wasabi mustard, and spicy daikon radish. The starter kit comes with everything you need: three seed quilts of your choice, a reusable grow tray, and instructions. Basically, you just add water and watch your microgreens grow.
Dawson calls this a “high quality hydroponics system with LED lights, self watering tank, seeds, and nutrients…designed with a space-saving aesthetic in mind for indoor use.” The personal garden is only 18 inches long, and can grow eight plants at a time. Some of the ones offered: microgreens, arugula, chamomile, lemongrass, and hot lemon peppers. If you want a bigger garden, you can upgrade and expand to 12 plants. You can also opt for a single, double, or triple family garden, each of which can be added on to.
“You can select your pre-sprouted plants, which allows for customization and gets you to the gratification of harvest faster,” Dawson says about this simple and chic hydroponic garden. It’s available in five sizes, the smallest of which grows 12 plants at a time and the largest grows 36. The Farmstand is also self-watering and self-fertilizing, and uses 95-percent less water than traditional gardening. Choose from over 200 seedlings, from leafy greens and other veggies to herbs and fruits. Extension kits are available if you decide to expand your garden, though the brand doesn’t recommend going beyond six levels (36 plants) per Farmstand.
This AI-powered indoor smart system has “all the bells and whistles,” Dawson says. She also calls attention to the “gorgeous design and hydroponic technology that claims to offer the highest plant density of any hydroponics garden.” Every garden comes with a welcome kit that contains a curated selection of 30 organic plants, and you can also individually purchase from their selection of over 50 plants, including bok choi, sage, mint, sweet peppers, lavender, and calendula.
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