Tong Zhang
(Senior Editor)
08/08/16 08:23 PM
Click and Grow Smart Herb Garden Review

Keeping an indoor garden is a great way to harvest fresh herbs to spice up your dinner or fruit to freshen your drinks without worrying about pesticides and plant hormones. But for those who either aren't gifted with a green thumb or live or work in lowlight environment, growing herbs and plants can be a challenge. Click and Grow's Smart Herb Garden is a no-brainer solution that can give you fresh herbs and miniature fruits and veggies without requiring much effort from you. With an 11" x 3.5" footprint, you can find a space for it in just about anywhere. It comes with its own lights, soil and seeds. All you need to do is add water and plug it into power. Within a month, you can start cutting fresh herbs for your dishes. It's not just for herbs either. You can grow flowers and miniaturized fruits and vegetables like mini tomatoes, peppers and wild strawberries.



For whom is the Smart Herb Garden designed? Let's cut to the chase. If you can grow herbs, flowers and plants in regular soil, you won't find the Smart Herb Garden useful beyond perhaps as a starter kit for your seeds. The Smart Herb Garden is designed for those who either don't have the time or the touch to grow anything indoors. The kit provides the plants with everything they need to grow, including nutrients in the special soil, water from the water tank, light and temperature from the lamp. The kit has built-in sensors to monitor and optimize the balance of water, oxygen and nutrients for the plants. All you have to do is fill the water tank with water and plug the kit in. Every 3-6 weeks, you'll need to refill the tank. The LEDs will flash, when the water in the tank is running low, to remind you to add water. If the seizure-inducing flashing lights don't do the trick for you, you can always download the Click&Grow app that will remind you to refill the water tank.

Setting up the Smart Herb Garden is super easy. The kit comes with three growing pots with basil seeds already planted in them, and detailed instructions on how to set it up, which includes three simple steps: add water, plug the kit in, and cover the seed pots with the included plastic domes. The Smart Soil in the pots packs enough nutrients for the plants and it works with the water reservoir that these pots sit in. A floating level indicator tells you when the water is full and it sinks as water level drops. The LED growing lights have three height adjustments to accommodate the height of the growing plants, and the highest setting is about 13".



After a month of growing


In our test, the basil seeds that came with the kit sprouted after three days and reached the height of the tallest setting on the lamp in a month. It required adding water only once after the initial setup. Easy as pie. There are however a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, the timer on the LED lamp doesn't keep time well. The lights are automatically turned on for 16 hours and then off for 8 hours so that they don't illuminate at night. But the timer on our unit kept pushing time forward, shortening the cycle and turning on in the middle of the night after a couple of days. You can reset the timer by unplugging the power and then plugging it in. Secondly, the pots are over-seeded. It's understandable given the shelf time, transit time and other factors that might reduce the chance of survival for the seeds; over seeding the pots is the only way to ensure that you'll have enough plants to sprout and thrive. But if your seeds look healthy, it's okay to pull out a couple from each pot, as they'll compete for light in the small space. Thirdly, though not required, it's a good idea to trim the plants to encourage thicker foliage and yield more leaves. Without trimming, three basil plants at the highest the lamp allows can yield up to a dozen basil leaves; and that's enough for spicing up a dish, or a medium sized pizza, but not enough for a family sized pesto dish. It might take more time, but trimming the top of the plants is a sure way to get you heftier harvests.



In an optional wooden case


In general, it doesn't save you money to grow your own herbs; and the Smart Herb Garden is no exception. It matches the cost for a 3-pod garden from leading brand products like the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden. Each Smart Herb Garden costs $59.95, and three-pack refill sells for $19.95 or nine-pack for $49.95. Each plant can last you from 3 months to 6 months depending on the quantity of the herbs you harvest. If you need more varieties of herbs/fruits/veggies, you might need more than one garden. The cost of the investment does add up to higher prices in comparison to how much you need to spend to buy the produce at the store, even on organic produce. For some, the joy of growing something fresh and harvest what you need for your dishes or drinks when you need them outweighs the higher price, and growing can become addictive.

Our verdict: like everything else in personal electronics, growing a small herb garden is also a very personal experience that varies from one grower to another. It's clean growing, easy growing and relative fast growing, but it's not designed to yield large quantities and it's not cheap. The Smart Herb Garden comes in white box with different color options for the top, and for extra money, you can get wooden shell that hides the white exterior to match your décor.

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Super easy to use, almost zero effort required, a good selection of seeds available.
What's Not: Not cheap, the built-in timer doesn't keep time well.
Price: Starting $59.95
Website: Click & Grow

Reviewed by: Tong Zhang


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