Wishing you could grow your own food but don't have access to any outdoor space? Don’t worry because there are some pretty innovative companies out there paving the way to make this a problem of the past, and Click and Grow is one of them.
Click and Grow have solved a problem that a lot of people can relate to – the want to be sustainable, reduce waste, and grow their own food without any outdoor space at all. No gardens. No balconies. Nothing.
Martin Laidla, PR Manager for Click and Grow, says: 'Our gardens have gained popularity alongside several different trends. Gardening in general has been increasing in recent years and got a boost during the lockdowns, as did attention on healthier diet and concerns about mental health and food safety and availability. One recent survey showed that during 2020, seven per cent more people took up gardening as a hobby globally.'
I know I can relate to that. Not only did I fall down the rabbit hole of houseplants, but I also started caring more about what I ate and incorporated a lot of fresh herbs into my meals. I began growing basil, parsley, and chives by my windowsill in the kitchen but wanted to do more. I saw friends who had gardens growing tomatoes and lettuce and other veggies, and it frustrated me that just because I didn't have a garden, I couldn't do it.
Martin explains: 'The "Classical" way of gardening and growing some of your own food is great but most of us don't have the knowledge, time, or space for it. Sourcing your greens from the farmer's market is a healthy option, but again, these aren't near enough for everyone, and the fresh produce you get often ends up as waste.
'We help people grow their own fresh, clean food with little to no effort and with no gardening knowledge required. Ease of use is the main aspect why people choose us over other indoor gardening options. And people also like that it's even more sustainable than buying greens from farmers' markets – greens grown in your home with our gardens are beyond organic, have no food miles, and create no waste.'
As someone who is really passionate about sustainability and waste, Click and Grow was a no brainer for me. I wanted to stop being someone who bought plastic bags filled with herbs and only used half of them before having to throw them in the bin. Click and Grow gave me the opportunity to change this.
But what is Click and Grow?
Click and Grow sell smart gardens that allow you to grow plants 365 days a year. They eliminate the need to worry about any sort of watering schedule or if your plants are getting enough light. The base of each unit houses a water tank that can store enough water for up to a month – I have found this varies based on the age of your plants. There is a water indicator that lets you know when you need to top up which makes it a lot easier than watering a plant in soil.
There are nine spots to add your plant pods. These plant pods are made with a very specific mix of soil called 'Smart Soil', which provides the nutrients your plant needs to survive and thrive. When you first plant your pods you'll place a little biodome on top to create a greenhouse effect which will help your plants sprout more quickly. Attached by extendable arms is a grow light that is on for 16 hours a day and off for eight. Don’t worry if this seems like a lot – since having the Click and Grow (I have three gardens), my electricity bill has only gone up by about 25p a month.
You can choose from a variety of plant pods ranging from herbs to greens, to fruit to veg, and even flowers. They ship to around 50 countries, becoming really popular all over the world and there's really no surprise as to why.
Martin adds: 'Our customer base is quite wide as you can imagine for a garden and a home appliance. There are seasoned and beginner gardeners; people who are great home cooks and are interested in some specific herbs for their dishes and don't settle with the lower quality plants they'd get from the store; there are those who mainly look to decorate their rooms with our gardens and plants since they're aesthetically pleasing; there are those who use the gardens to teach their kids about nature or make them eat more healthy food; there are those who want to live more sustainably and get clean food with no food miles, waste or excessive packaging; there are those who use the gardens for de-stressing.'
My experience using Click and Grow
I got my Click and Grow Smart Garden 27 back in August 2021. I was really excited to set it up and was impressed with how quick and easy it was to do so. It must have taken me a little less than an hour to get the stand built, all the gardens set up, and the pods planted. Everything was labelled clearly and any tools you may need are provided.
Each smart garden comes with a variety of plants to get you started. Mine came with green lettuce, yellow cherry tomatoes, and basil. Most of the pods come in packs of three or nine. I also got some additional plants like coriander, dill, rosemary, thyme, chives, rocket and mint. I set up the top to be all of my herbs and then had the middle with my tomatoes and the bottom with my rocket lettuce. Since I had more space to grow different things I also ordered some sweet red peppers, wild strawberries, dwarf peas, pak choi, green kale, romaine lettuce, and rainbow chard. As you can see there is a huge variety of things you can grow at home!
It took a few weeks for anything super exciting to happen but only days for some of the pods to start sprouting. I found that the herbs grow the quickest. However, I did have an issue with my mint. Nothing sprouted from my pod. Thankfully, Click and Grow have a policy where if your pod doesn't sprout in three weeks, they'll help you out with a refund or replacement.
I've had my smart garden for a little over three months now and I can honestly say that it has changed the way I cook. I like to use fresh herbs in just about everything and having the pods ready to be harvested when I need them is incredible. I don't feel like I'm wasting food like I was before I had it. I've made some delicious fresh pesto with my basil, used my thyme and rosemary to season roast potatoes and my dill to make fresh tzatziki, and I've made salads with my green lettuce which was probably the most exciting as I never thought I'd be able to grow lettuce inside my flat.
My yellow tomatoes are almost ripe as are my dwarf peas. I have plans to make ramen with my pak choi and kale chips with my green kale once it's ready. I'm still waiting for my wild strawberries, red sweet peppers, and chilli peppers to flower. Once they flower all I will have to do is shake the plant to pollinate them and then I will get some delicious food to eat.
I will say that it can take some plants a lot longer than others to grow anything. Click and Grow has this great app that you can use to track your plant's growth cycle. It's not super accurate as it won't actually be able to tell how far along the plant is, but it's a good guideline to follow. It gives you plant care tips and makes it easy to remember which plants are coming from which pod (you can label the actual garden but if you're like me and forget or have bad handwriting, using the app is a bit easier).
You can't keep the pods in forever, you will have to replace them. However, the type of waste you have when you're growing your own plants at home is all organic waste, whereas if you bought from the shop, you'd have plastic. I still have most of my plant pods inside my Click and Grow from when I planted them back in August. I’ve had to replace a few herbs but that's because they flowered while I was away. If you don't want to completely throw out the pods, some of them can be replanted into pots or outdoors if you do have somewhere to put them.
All in all I'd say that the Click and Grow is totally worth it. Prices range from £85.95 to £685.95. The Smart Garden 27, which is the one that I have, costs £515.95. Three packs of pods are £8.95 and nine packs are £20.95. They also offer subscriptions which can save you a bit of money, so if there is anything you really enjoy growing, you'll be able to have it on hand when you need it.
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