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Every food has its peak season: tomatoes in August, citrus fruits in December, and strawberries in May. However, our cravings for these foods don’t end when their season does. It can be tough to find fresh produce in the winter or during the off-season. Sure, you could grow your own in a greenhouse, but you might not have the means or yard space for one of those. Enter indoor gardening systems. A relatively new concept in produce farming, the best indoor gardening systems let you grow your favorite food in the comfort of your home or apartment.
“There likely was a jump during the pandemic when consumers wanted to cut down on grocery trips and had more free time on their hands,” explains Jenn Jenn Frymark, chief greenhouse officer at Gotham Greens. “There is a sense of pride that comes from eating produce you grew yourself.” Plus, when you grow food indoors, you don’t have to worry about frost, heavy rain, wind, or hungry animals ruining your crop.
While low-light houseplants are fairly easy to keep alive through the winter (just add a grow light and humidity), an indoor vegetable garden requires managing more variables. The best indoor garden systems make it easy. They’re equipped with grow lights, self-watering systems, and trellises to help you grow whatever you want. Some are even made specifically for lettuce or microgreens. “If you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep it simple and relatively low maintenance and work your way up from there,” says Frymark. “Microgreens, herbs, and leafy greens are all great examples of produce that grow really well indoors with the right growing conditions and would be a good place to start.” Ahead, we cover the 10 best indoor gardening systems on the market now, complete with pros, cons, and the best foods to grow in each.
AeroGarden Harvest Slim
The AeroGarden is beloved for its slim profile and fast grow times—up to five times faster than traditional soil grow times. It has space for plants up to 12 inches tall, so it’s optimal for lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, or other low, bushy produce.
Gardyn Home Kit 2.0
Towering and sleek, the Garden Home Kit 2.0 is perfect for tall stalks and a wide variety of produce. This system offers AI monitoring 24/7 so you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be alerted if any of your plants need assistance.
Smart Garden, 3-Pod
This three-pod indoor gardening system is designed primarily for herbs. The beginner kit comes with three pots of basil. With a 40-ounce water tank, this system self-waters for up to three weeks (depending on other conditions, like the temperature).
The Farmstand Nook
Equipped to water and fertilize up to 20 plants at once, the Farmstead Nook can grow lettuce, herbs, flowers, and more year-round. The compact tower is great for smaller spaces and displays the greenery like art rather than a traditional vegetable patch.
Personal Rise Garden
With grow times as fast as 30 days from sprout to harvest, the Personal Rise Garden is good for impatient home farmers. Each Rise Gardens comes with an eight-plant starter pack to get you going, but you can fit as many as 12 plants in the bed.
Tower Garden FLEX
Each Tower Garden comes with a seed starter kit that includes a germination tray, rockwool cubes (for seed starting), vermiculite growing medium and net pots, and seeds for leafy greens, lettuces, and herbs. This system is self-watering, but you have to set up the drain tube and pump. It may need more maintenance than others on this list, but it’s great for hands-on learners.
Indoor Garden Hydroponics Growing System
Budget friendly and good for beginners, this indoor growing system has 12 pod slots for plants, an adjustable full-sun grow light, and an easy-to-see water gauge so you always know when it’s time to refill. It also has three different preset modes you can choose depending on what you’re growing to give you the best results every time.
Stack-n-Grow Lights – Base Unit
Lightweight and easy to build (no tools needed), this system focuses on the sunlight needs of your plants. It doesn’t include any fancy self-watering or app capabilities, but it’s easy to customize and expand. It comes with two full-spectrum T5 fluorescent bulbs that are spaced for optimum coverage, and the lights are super easy to raise or lower as plants grow. High-tech reflectors direct light down onto them for healthier growth and less glare into your space.
Smart Landscape Growframe
Grow succulents, houseplants, produce, herbs, you name it, all while keeping your floors clear. This grow frame, complete with grow lights, mounts to the wall and turns your indoor garden into a work of art. You can adjust the light to suit your plants’ needs—there are full sun and low-light modes.
Microgreens Growing Kit
If you’re really into the microgreens health craze and add them to everything you eat, you’ll benefit from growing the miniature superfoods at home. Now it’s easy: This tray, sized perfectly for a deep windowsill or countertop, only needs to be watered once in between planting and harvesting (really).
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