The Rise of At-Home Hydroponic Gardens - Modern Farmer

The Rise of At-Home Hydroponic Gardens

With intelligent indoor gardening systems, you can now grow leafy greens, vegetables, herbs and fruits in your living room, kitchen, even tiny studio apartment.

Gardyn is one of many indoor gardening systems available.
Photography courtesy of Gardyn.

April Rolle had a leafy green problem. The busy doctor loved salads, but she hadn’t had any luck growing lettuce or other salad components in her outdoor container garden, and because of her schedule, she never ended up using all of the greens she bought before they went bad. Then she discovered Gardyn, a smart indoor hydroponic garden that allows home gardeners to grow up to 30 kinds of vegetables and salad greens inside year-round.

“Gardyn allows you to pick a fresh salad whenever you’re ready,” says Rolle, who started using the device in June.

Sixteen million people picked up gardening during the pandemic, and according to the National Gardening Association, 67 percent were either growing or planning to grow vegetables, herbs and fruits in 2021. But not all of those people are growing food outdoors. Some, like Rolle, are using intelligent indoor gardens, like Gardyn, Lettuce Grow or Click and Grow, among other systems to grow food in living rooms, kitchens and even tiny studio apartments.

The companies, which use soilless farming techniques—mostly hydroponic growing systems—ship seed pods that consumers place in mini-farms that include a water tank and, depending on the model, grow lights and even WiFi. Designed to give you all the benefits of a garden without most of the work, they also help bring people closer to their food.

Growing up in Provence, France, Gardyn CEO and founder FX Rouxel was surrounded by local markets and fresh produce. Years later, as an adult living in Maryland, he started to take a closer look at our food system.

“The idea of a head of lettuce traveling three weeks to your table was inconceivable,” says Rouxel. Using his background in computer science, technology and engineering, Rouxel developed Gardyn’s fully automated smart vertical growing system, which launched last year.

Photo courtesy of Gardyn.

Indoor smart gardens have operated on a large scale for decades. The idea of vertical indoor farms was popularized by Columbia University professor and microbiologist Dickson Despommier and his students in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were seeking to answer one of the world’s biggest problems: how to feed a growing worldwide population, especially with more people centered around cities, and how to produce that food more efficiently and sustainably.

Today, companies such as Gotham Greens, Bowery Farming, AeroFarms, Forward Greens and Upward Farms use some type of indoor vertical technology-based farm to grow produce that appears on supermarket shelves. You can also source such greens through CSA-like memberships such as Willo.

But it’s only been in the past few years that these massive farms have become available to the general public on a smaller scale. And with this new wave of indoor mini-farms, more and more people are discovering how rewarding it is to grow their own food.

That’s the case in my home. One of the first things my toddler does when she gets up each morning is check on the plants in the Click and Grow system in our kitchen. And the only way I can get her to eat things like tomatoes and kale is by letting her pick them herself from the garden.

“It’s easy and practical,” says Emma Sophie, founder at Evergreenseeds, who uses the EVE Small Easy Indoor Garden to grow more than 200 different plants. “Per month, it yields up to seven pounds of greens for me, which are more than enough. I control the growth of my plants via an app with automated lighting and watering. One of the best things about this is that no soil is needed, hence no mess! The plant has no pesticides and gardening works throughout the year. Sometimes, to give it a more aesthetic look, I grow flowers.”

The systems are not inexpensive. The Click and Grow indoor garden, one of the cheaper options, starts at $99.95, and some of the more advanced systems can cost nearly $1,000, plus you have to buy the seed pods. But for many people, the benefits of the easy-to-use systems are more than worth the cost.

“Using the Gardyn has been very easy since it runs itself,” says Rolle. “I’ve been growing mostly different varieties of lettuce, peppers and tomatoes that come with the system.” Next, she plans to experiment with growing some of her own seeds.

For myself and my toddler, the simplicity of the indoor grow system is a nice way to transition into and out of our cold New England months. My daughter can taste tomatoes and watch them grow all year long—sometimes outdoors and sometimes in.

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2 years ago

Don’t forget Tower Garden hydroponic system

2 years ago

Reduce the waste and put small scale farming back in place. Efficient and organic. Large scale farming has its place but due to drought water shortages and climate change in general decentralization and diversification of food sourcing will be increasingly important. Just an observation from an old farmer.

Jorie Allen
2 years ago

I love my AeroGarden and used it all last winter. The only cons are that the seed pods are pricey and are made of…plastic!!! I wish they would develop the pods so that they were reusable and could be filled with the seed and germinating matrix. Not sure what to do with the plastic pod parts once used.

Anjani jalaj
2 years ago

Very nice concept as human beings evolved from water hence we should includes this type of cultivation in our ancient culture has been forgotten so now we are our responsibility to revived it

2 years ago

Thanks, Bridget. Hope you, your toddler and everyone you care for stay safe & well. What a wonderful thing to publish on 9/11 ! Yes, this is definitely the way to go for a positive future. You’ve performed a great service for all who read your article, and you present it in a way that will encourage many to “just try it.” Many, many thanks.

Steve Gilmour
2 years ago

Does anyone know if there any hydroponic farms on an industrial level in Scotland?

2 years ago

this method is nice i will try it

2 years ago

Hydro Mania has a wide range of the best indoor cultivation products and accessories-pots and hydroponic systems, fertilizers, ventilation and lighting systems. Think of our Grow Boxes as the first driverless car for hydroponic growing.

Arthur Bedder
2 years ago

It’s a shame that none of the less expensive hydroponic gardens were mentioned in this article. I’ve been using hydroponic gardens to grow some of my food for almost a decade.

2 years ago

I wasn’t aware of this new hydroponic indoor system from Gardyn but your article brought it to my attention. I will admit that it looks amazing, I love how they integrated the principles of an NFT hydroponic system into making this kit. The vertical idea is absolutely brilliant because it saves so much space, while being able to grow so many plants at the same time. Plus, I was impressed by the materials used into making their Gardyn systems and the incorporation of technology. The price definitely matches how amazing these systems are. I wish them luck in reaching more… Read more »