The Click and Grow Smart Garden systems promise an easy-to-use and hands-off growing environment for indoor gardening.
In this first article, I will go through unpacking, setup, and installation. I will also include my reflections as I set up the system.
Right off the bat, my expectations are high. The Click and Grow system promises excellent value but is not cheap, and it is only fair to expect high quality and an intuitive design and growing process.
Click and Grow offer several different models to fit your indoor gardening needs. Systems include the Smart Garden 3, the Smart Garden 9, the Smart Garden 9 Pro, the Smart Garden 25, the Smart Garden 29, and the Wall Farm Indoor Vertical Gardens.
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Unpacking the Smart Garden 9 box
The system arrives in a beautiful box and contains the following:
- LED grow lights
- Extension arms for grow lights
- Electric plug converter to fit your region
- Pre-seeded smart pods
- Clear plastic domes for improved germination
As for design and setup, I am impressed.
The design is visually pleasing and will be a talking point in any home. The grow light gives a solid full spectrum light, but the bleed factor is minimal as it focuses on the growing area.
Another plus is that the Smart Garden is quiet. As in no noise, the Smart Garden doesn’t need an air pump.
Most hydroponic grow systems rely on an air pump to aerate the water and nutrient solution in the container. And even if air pumps today are much quieter than they were ten years ago, there is still low background noise.
But here is an essential distinction between Click and Grow and the other hydroponic grow systems. Click and Grow brings the fun and efficiency of hydroponic gardening to anyone. There is no need to obsess about water quality, pH levels, tangled root systems, or liquid nutrient solutions - the Smart Garden is as easy to use as advertised.
The built-in timer makes it hands-off straight out of the box
The grow lights deliver a full spectrum of light, and the timer starts when you plug it in. The cycle runs 16 hours on and 8 hours off. You can unplug the system to reset it, but I made sure to start our system early in the morning.
The extension arms for the grow light are marked with tape, and assembly is easy. Remove all tape before mounting the extension arms and the light fixture.
The electric plug converter is attached to the plug, and you may find a couple of different converters in your box. Choose the converter that matches your wall sockets and secure it by matching the groves, pressing the button, and gently turning it into place, as is shown in the video below.
The plastic germination domes are clever in their simplicity
The plastic domes are simple in design and purpose. They are placed on top of the plant pods to help create a garden house effect for a higher germination rate. Remove when the first leaves reach the edge of the dome.
Each dome has an opening to allow air to flow and circulate. It is easy to miss, but it is an example of the creative thought process and design that has gone into constructing the Smart Garden systems.
Plant Pods and the Promise of Smart Soil
And then we have the plant pods. And these are truly special. Each plant pod is made from natural renewable materials, and looking at them, I suspect they, at least in part, contain peat and coconut coir. The medium used for these plant pods is aptly named Smart Soil.
The pods come in sets of 3 for the plant you choose. Currently, there are 72 different plants, including tomatoes, peppers, flowers, herbs, and leafy vegetables.
I chose to grow 7 fast growing plants - Red Pak Choi (2), Lettuce (2), and Basil (3) - and 2 slower developing plants - Mini-tomatoes (1), and Chillies (1). Going into this project, I believe the system will be moist suited for leafy green and herbs. But time will tell.
Each pod is designed to be optimal for the plant you are growing. The pods
- are made from natural renewable materials
- come pre-seeded
- include slow-release nutrients for the life of the plant
- are porous for improved aeration and root development
- deliver optimal pH levels for the selected plant
- are 100% clean and free from pesticides and harmful substances
The Smart Garden has cups designed to hold the plant pods. Each cup has a lid that covers a large part of the inserted pod. This lid helps control where the light from the grow light falls, and it is another clever detail as it helps prevent the growth of unwanted algae, moss, and mold.
Smart Gardens make hydroponics easy for anyone
Here is another prominent difference compared to hydroponic grow systems like Deep Water Culture and Ebb and Flow grow systems. The cups will contain the growth of the root system, and we will never grow large plants in our Smart Garden. But we will be able to grow and harvest good-sized plants suited for the Click and Grow system.
But ask yourself, do I want to grow a full-sized tomato or pepper plant indoors? The more I think about it, I see growing smaller-sized plants as a positive rather than negative.
Simple setup and installation
First of all, setup and installation are very intuitive and follow a simple 4-step process:
- Attach light fixture
- Insert plant pods
- Fill the container with water
- Plug in the system
And that is all there is to it. I have made a YouTube video – see below – that takes you through the entire process in detail.
I apologize that the video is a bit "laggy"jumpy" in some parts. Long story short, my new camera had an efficiency setting that did not work well with YouTube. And as the box was unpacked, I could not really shoot the video again. Camera setting has been corrected and the next video will be lag-free. But most importantly, the information and advice in the video is solid.
Summary and Smart Garden 9 reflections (week 1)
I am delighted to report that my Basil, Lettuce, and Red Pak Choi plant pods are sprouting their first leaves after only three days.
What did I do to make this happen? Nothing.
And this is the brilliant thing about the Smart Garden system. It may help to be a good gardener, but anyone can grow indoors year-round with Click and Grow Smart Gardens.
Can I see any disadvantages with the Click and Grow Smart Garden systems? Well, it is a tried and tested system.
But I believe growing leafy vegetables and herbs will be the best way to maximize the yield from the system. I have planted tomatoes and chilies in my Smart Garden 9, but as they are slower to germinate and develop, they will occupy two spots in my system for a long time. And from a value perspective, choosing fast-growing leafy vegetables and herbs makes more sense.
But then again, gardening is also about the experience. I look forward to following my tomato and chili plants as they grow and develop over the next few months.
I also want to see what effect the size of the cups will have on the development of the plant as it grows.
The root systems grow and develop freely in the container in regular hydroponic grow systems. With the Smart Garden, the roots cannot grow larger than the cup will allow.
And even though it is a proven, tried, and tested system, will the growth be stunted or show any other signs of a diminishing rate of return or yield?
And then there is, of course, the cost. It is hard to use terms like “good value” as the price of a Smart Garden may be out of reach for many prospective buyers.
Still, if you consume leafy vegetables and fresh herbs, I believe the system will pay for itself over time. How quickly? Impossible to say as it depends on what you grow and how much you would have to pay at your local store.
But I will confidently state that you will be satisfied with the Click and Grow Smart Garden System from the perspective of design, usability, and overall performance.
It is still early days, but from what I see so far, I am prepared to be impressed.
Whether you choose the 3-pod system, a Smart Garden 9, or go for a Wall Garden and self-sustainability – your system will be a talking point, and you will be amazed at how easy it is to grow herbs and vegetables indoors year-round.
Click here to get your own Click and Grow Smart Garden.