Another compact hydroponic growing device? Yes, but each has something unique, though most designed for countertop use fall short of being a true indoor garden. They are more like little-automated planters than a garden that actually provides you with fresh food daily. GrowChef stands apart in several ways.
Enjoying fresh herbs and greens grown at home through all seasons without having the normally required yard and tropical climate is wonderful. However, if the amount of lettuce each growing pod produces makes a single salad, and your indoor garden has only 4, 8, or 12 plant sites – you won’t be reaping super fresh benefits very often. Because…
It takes at least 4 weeks for lettuce seed to grow some substance. Those roots-on bundles sold by grocers’ remained in the hydroponic system for 5-6 weeks from seed. Other greens, like spinach, take about 6 weeks. Herbs grow slower. So, that slick little countertop garden with 4 planting sites will provide you with a handful of lettuce every 7.6 days. That is if you plant and harvest on precision rotation. These are really better suited for herbs, and a great starter for newcomers to growing. But if you want to eat, you need more production space. Which is what makes the GrowChef indoor garden so exciting. Here you have 51 growing sites on 3 levels that accommodate 17 seedlings, 17 young plants, and 17 plants approaching or at the harvest stage. That’s lettuce and greens ready for harvest every day, and some extra spots for herbs too.
Now that’s a garden, a thing that should supply a continual food source. And the indoor garden in the city or through the winter needs to accomplish a lot more than producing a handful of lettuce every 8 days. Granted, you only have so much space in your home, but the GrowChef applies vertical gardening to a countertop hydroponic garden in a fashion that makes a whole lot of sense. No space on the counter? You can hang it on the wall.
Because GrowChef stands almost 30″ tall (72cm), the harvest stage level of the garden isn’t going to accommodate tall plants well, but making it any taller means you’d need a ladder to reach the germination area on top. It’s not a space hog with a footprint of nearly 12″ x 24″ (30x60cm). The energy use is very reasonable too, with the 52 watts of full spectrum LED grow lights and the 12-volt water pump using only 33 kW a month. The unit weighs 8.5lbs. (3.9kg) before you fill it with plants and the required 10.5 liters of nutrient-rich water. The lighting on each growing tier operates independently, so you can turn them off and on separately via the phone app. The net cups are made from biodegradable PLA plastic.
Unlike other indoor garden designs, this one doesn’t hold you prisoner to start new crops after exhausting the kit. You’re not stuck purchasing “proprietary” pre-filled pods and pre-selected seed variety, though they are available for plug-n-play gardeners. More adventurous growers can refill the net cups with fresh vermiculite, and sow any desired seeds (so long as the plants will enjoy the system dimensions), which makes it a very sustainable indoor garden. The LEDs and water pump are also easily replaced.
The GrowChef team has just finished up a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, raising about 200% of the requested funding to take their already proven indoor garden prototype design into mass production. It looks perfect for a steady flow of herbs and salad ingredients. Don’t like blue? Not an issue, there are 4 colors to pick from.
Images courtesy of GrowChef.