clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Circuit Breaker

This indoor smart garden helped me grow basil and lettuce with zero effort

New, 8 comments

What a feat

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

I barely keep myself alive, let alone plants. Who has time to care for another living thing? Click & Grow’s Wall Farm Mini helped me not only grow a garden but also actually sustain one. With it, I created life. And salad.

What is it?

Click & Grow has a line of products designed to automate gardening. We reviewed its herb garden before, which sits on a countertop. But the company’s new Wall Farm products are bigger, standalone gardens that can grow multiple plants at once. I grew tomatoes, chili peppers, basil, and lettuce in my Wall Farm Mini. It holds 34 plants in total. The company’s founder, Mattias Lepp, tells me his goal is food production and minimizing waste. He also says NASA’s Mars mission inspired him when designing the concept and look of the farms. I felt very martian chic having it in my apartment.

What’s so special about it?

The key thing to know about this farm is that it isn’t hydroponic. It relies on proprietary soil to grow your food. So when you order the Wall Farm, you’ll also have to order soil pods that contain seeds. They’re shipped in recyclable cardboard containers to minimize waste, and depending on what you’re growing and how you prune them, you might get more than one harvest out of each soil pod. My basil, for instance, should last up to two years. My tomatoes, however, might only be good for one or two real harvests. The farms include lights that mimic sunlight without burning your eyes. Click & Grow says these lights adapt to the grow cycle, but throughout my time with them, I didn’t notice any change in the light. They’re on for around 16 hours a day.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The farm also includes sensors that force the lights to blink when the plants’ water trough is low. So yes, you have to manually add water to their trough, but c’mon, how can you forget to do that? In my experience, around a cup of water is enough to satisfy the water sensor.

How easy was it to set up and use?

I’m not the handiest person by a far stretch, so building the farm was difficult for me and required the help of my roommate. It shipped to my apartment as pieces of wood with the lights and troughs separate. The box was super heavy, too, and I ended up taking it apart in the lobby of my building just to get it up to my second floor apartment. Although it took around five hours, I did eventually get the farm operational, so I guess in theory, it was easy to set up. The fact that I got it to work at all says something. Now, I still flubbed up the lights, which you can see in the below photos. One of the light bars is off-center, which created an area that isn’t receiving the full light spectrum. I didn’t have the patience to go back and try to figure out where I went wrong. I also have no idea how I’ll ever take this apart. I should also note that this isn’t a connected farm; I didn’t have to hook it up through an app or Wi-Fi.

How well did it work?

Well! I successfully grew all my plants, although my chili peppers are still ripening, and really, the fact that organic life sprouted in my stagnant Queens apartment should be considered a modern miracle. My friends and I made pesto from my basil, and they thought it was very good. The fact that I impressed my friends should also be taken as a major perk. Click & Grow doesn’t give you all the answers. The company posts about taking care of your plants on its blog, but doesn’t walk you through their life cycle step-by-step. I initially found this frustrating because I don’t like surprises and not knowing if I’m doing something wrong, but I suppose ancient farmers didn’t have instruction manuals. I tried to remind myself of this.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Am I happier or more fulfilled?

I’m a difficult woman to please. I would even say this is one of my identifiable characteristics: Ashley “Difficult to Please” Carman. But Click & Grow brought me happiness. I fully recognize I did really nothing to get these plants to grow but wow, food sprouted! I even learned about plants. Did you know basil grows in offshoots of two? I didn’t. I’m also a sheltered city person.

Should you get one?

This isn’t a cheap product. The Mini costs $899, but it will bring you joy. I come home every day excited to check up on my plant children. However, this farm is for a specific consumer. My friends who eat healthy and don’t have the space to garden, for instance, would probably love a Click & Grow farm. Although they’d also need a lot of free space in their apartment. I bought my parents a countertop version, and they’re having fun with it.

Overall, the Wall Farm Mini worked well, and I’m satisfied. I just have a lot of lettuce now and am slightly bored of salad.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge