REVIEW – When you grow your own food, you not only nourish your body, but you nourish your mind and your spirit from the effort and time spent tending the plants. Unfortunately, not everyone has the outdoor space to create a garden plot. So for them, we have the Click & Grow Smart Garden 9. Let’s check it out this indoor gardening gadget.
What is it?
The Smart Garden from Click & Grow is a self-contained garden that is perfect for even the smallest indoor spaces to let you grow up to 9 different plants and is also available in a smaller version that can grow 3 plants.
What’s in the box?
Click & Grow Smart Garden 9
4 Light bar supports
3 plant capsules that each have 3 pods per pack
Design and features
The Smart Garden arrives in a package that has the instructions printed right on the box. Setup is easy but does require some minimal assembly.
First, you remove the tank which is designed to automatically water the plants and holds 9 plant capsule holders which are already in place.
The next step is to attach the grow light stand to the tank. The Smart Garden 9 comes with 2 sets of arms so you can adjust the height of the grow light as the plants get taller. The arms just press on the tank without the need to use tools. I did run into a small issue with the arms that I’ll discuss later.
Then you route the power cord down a channel on the side of the tank.
Next, you open one of the plant capsules. The Smart Garden 9 ships with Green Lettuce, Basil, and Mini Tomato 3-pack capsules but you can buy refills of other plants as they offer 40 different capsules that include plants, flowers, and herbs like: a variety of pepper plants, kale, dill, dwarf peas, wild strawberries, and many more.
I don’t see why you couldn’t create your own plant pods to grow other plants too and I may try that at some point and share the results with a review update.
When you open one of the plant packages, you find 3 little brown pods. Each pod contains everything needed to grow a plant even if you think you have a black thumb. The pods contain NASA inspired smart soil and the seeds which are already planted inside the pods.
All you need to do is remove one of the plastic capsule holders from the tank and remove the lid.
If you turn over the holder, you’ll see a wick on the bottom that automatically sucks up water from the tank to water the plant.
The plant capsule fits in the holder.
The lid goes over the holder.
Then a clear plastic biodome lid snaps over the top.
The biodome lids create a tiny terrarium-like environment which helps the seeds in the capsule to sprout. It should be obvious that the little biodome lids should be removed as soon as the seedlings are big enough that they start touching the “ceiling” of the lid.
All that is left to do is fill the tank with water by pouring water directly into the receptacle in the lower left corner.
The water receptacle has a built-in water level indicator that rises as you add the water. If you press on it, it bobs up and down to let you know that there is still enough water in the tank. Here’s a 10-second demo showing how that works.
As the water is used by the plants, the water level indicator sinks into the receptacle to let you know that it’s time to add more water. The design is both genius and simple.
Earlier, I mentioned that I had an issue with the support arms for the grow light. Can you see the problem in the image above? If you can’t see it, look at the right support arm. See how there’s a gap where the grow light attaches to the top of the arm? That gap is there because I can’t get it to seat completely and I’m afraid I’ll break something if I put even more pressure on it. I’m equally worried that I won’t be able to detach the grow light when the time comes to add the other support arms to increase the height of the grow light when the plants get tall enough.
Update 07/13/18 – There’s nothing wrong with the extension arms. It was my fault, I missed seeing that two of the arms have a groove for the power cord and fit on that side of the tank. When I switched them out, everything fits perfectly.
The grow light itself has 9 white and red LED lights which are programmed to turn on and off at different times of the day in order to provide the needed light for the plants to grow. I happen to have the Click & Grow Smart Garden set up in Gadgeteer HQ which is in a basement office. For that reason, I really don’t care when the grow light is active or inactive because I don’t sleep down there. But if you have a very small living area, that might be a consideration as to where you decide to place this indoor garden because there isn’t a way to customize the light schedule.
It’s time to grow the veggies!
I set up the Smart Garden on 6/28/18 and the lettuce seeds were the first to start sprouting just a few days later on 7/1/18. It is funny how exciting something non-digital can be! 🙂 A couple days later the basil sprouted and then finally when I was almost ready to give up, the mini tomato seeds sprouted.
I thought it would be fun to create a time-lapse video showing the growth progress of the plants, so I set up the Brinno TLC200 Pro time-lapse camera and here is a quick 1-minute video showing 9 days of the Click & Grow Smart Garden 9.
It’s really cool when plants grow and you had to do was add the water. So I have my little garden going inside the house and Jeanne has a 50 x 50 foot garden outside. So far my garden is doing better than hers but don’t tell her that I said that!
What I like
- Completely automatic, just add plant capsules and water
What needs to be improved
- No way to customize the grow light timing
- Refill plant capsules are expensive at almost $10 for a 3 pack
It’s going to take several weeks before the plants are big enough to harvest and eat. Especially the mini tomatoes. So I decided to go ahead and post my review now and then follow up with updates as time goes on to show the progress. That said, I’m impressed so far by how easy the Smart Garden is to use.
The basil, lettuce, and mini tomatoes are still growing and I’ve had to add the two risers for the light to raise it. So far, I’ve only eaten some of the lettuce. I haven’t had a use for basil yet and the tomatoes are just now starting to bloom.
It’s fun to watch the plants grow from nothing to something you can actually eat, for those who like instant gratification, they will be a little bored with the process. I posted this review a month ago and had already waited a few weeks before doing so so I’d have some pictures of the plants growing. So this is a “gadget” that takes some patience. FYI, the lettuce did make a good sandwich!
I gave up on the tomatoes a couple weeks ago. There were tiny green marble-sized tomatoes that stayed the same size and color for a few weeks while the leaves of the tomato plant had started to get brown around the edges. This indoor planter system worked fine for the lettuce and basil, but the tomatoes were a fail. In the end, the system was fun, but I’m not sure it’s really worth the money or space. If you have a few containers and a well-lit area, you could just buy a few herb seeds and grow them the old fashioned way.