It’s Valentine’s Day 2021 – and I’m about to start some cold weather crop seeds indoors to move out into the greenhouse. But first, I had to unbox and setup the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 that husband got me for my birthday back in September. I feel foolish for not opening and setting it up sooner – big mistake! It sends the message that I don’t enjoy getting fun garden projects as gifts and it couldn’t be further from the truth!
With three + inches of snow melting into a slushy and icy mess all over the yard, I had to pull the trigger and get it started.
This Smart Garden 3 is a counter-top hydroponics contraption. I think it’s primarily intended to have fresh herbs growing in your kitchen so you can snip them and add super fresh produce to your meals whenever you like.
When it comes to turnkey, beginner hydroponics kits, this isn’t my first rodeo. They are fun to set up and I usually get roped into working on these in the winter when I can’t walk around and stare at my outdoor plants. I have had (and used) an Aerogarden hydroponics (uses nutrient formula solutions) system for years and then graduated to the Back To The Roots Water Garden 3 gallon fish tank aquaponics (uses fish) system. I actually had two of these, a couple of years apart.
This Click & Grow is different than both of these and so far, I like the product very much. Here’s why.
Shape, Style and Design
The design is contemporary. It’s got rounded edges which softens the profile and gives it more of an organic feel. The color is grey and white, so it looks clean and bright. It looks easy to clean and wipe down, if needed. A design improvement from the other aquaponics systems I’ve tried, is the U shaped plastic piece that partly covers the seed pod/growing material. This was included to block the light and reduce the mold/algea growth on/in the system. This is brilliant because this was definitely a problem with the Areogarden and the fish tank was a mess as the pump would cause icky water to splash up onto the top of the system and make a mess. There is no pump in this smart garden, so splashing won’t be an issue here.
The size of the unit is about the size of a toaster, so it’s a comfortable fit on most counter tops. The Aerogarden I had was from around 2009 and the design has changed quite a lot since then. It does come in different sizes, but the one I had was very big. That footprint was about the size of a toaster oven or microwave, so that was much more of a real estate commitment on my counter top. In fact, the only spot I could comfortably make room was on top of the dresser in my bedroom.
This Smart Garden 3 looks sharp on the bookshelf in my living room office, between my printer and a large house plant. Even with 3 inches on either side, it doesn’t need more than about a square foot of space on any shelf or surface in your home.
The Simple Setup and Convenient Operation
In the video above, I unboxed, read the instructions and set up my basil to start growing in less than 15 minutes. You don’t even need to set up the app on your phone in order to operate the garden. Just assemble your plant pods, fill the container with water and plug it in! It seems that all you need to do is keep the tank full and harvest when the plants have grown up. You can also extend the lamp with an arm that will raise the lights higher as your plants grow. This tells me that they system needs very little intervention from me to be successful. I do love to garden, but the less I have to do for the system, the better.
The Smart Phone App
Speaking of the app for your phone… it’s an optional tool to help you keep track of your plants and garden progress. Install the app and then select the device you are using (Smart Garden 3 or 9). Select the plants you are growing in each of the available slots of your garden. The app names your plants and counts down until they are ready to harvest, allowing space for notes along the way.
As a permaculture enthusiast and soil health junky, the only caveat I see is that the Click and Grow system comes with “smart soil” pods. They use natural materials to create what appears to be the standard sphagnum peat grow sponges that look very similar to what’s used in the Aerogarden system. Click and Grow infuses these pods with slow release, plant specific nutrients so that you don’t need to provide liquid nutrients to your hydroponic garden. They claim the formulas are very safe, clean, convenient and beneficial.
In light of this point, I would have preferred to use the aquaponics Back to the Roots fish tank setup to grow indoors using soilless pods. The fish provided natural nutrients to feed the plants and the plants use of the nutrients kept the fish environment clean (or should have). Truthfully, the system was messy. The top of the tank never looked clean, there was always crud in there. The light needed for good plant growth promoted algae in the tank. It was too much maintenance for me and I felt bad about having a dirty tank and not being a good fish mom.
In my opinion, synthetic fertilizers are not a preferred addition to anything I grow. I look forward to starting seeds in this system and then moving them out into my landscape to mature and benefit from healthy, biodynamic soil in the yard.
For future use, I’ll buy refill sphagnum peat grow sponges and use them instead of the pre-planted, fertilizer infused, Click & Grow refills.
What’s Your Experience with Click & Grow?
Have you used a Click & Grow Smart Garden? What was your experience with it? Do you prefer a different countertop hydroponics system?
If you would like to try to the Click & Grow system to grow herbs or vegetables in your home, please use the affiliate link below. I will receive a portion of the sale. I did not receive my garden from this company in exchange for a review of the product. My husband bought me this garden and I hope someone will benefit from the information I have provided in my unsolicited review.