I Hate Gardening, but This Indoor Hydroponic System Made It Ridiculously Easy for Me

The chicest greenhouse you’ll ever see.

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As someone who genuinely enjoys fruits and veggies, I like the concept of gardening, but I was born with the opposite of a green thumb (a black thumb?). I’ll be the first to admit that keeping plants alive is not my forte, unless it’s a cactus or succulent. Despite the many pep talks I’ve given to my greenery, I could never seem to master the perfect balance between water and light exposure to keep them around. 

So when I saw this glowing bean bag that called itself a self-watering, self-fertilizing planter, I was instantly intrigued. The Lettuce Grow Farmstand (from $399; lettucegrow.com) is a vertical hydroponic planter that can grow greens indoors or out, and is said to yield the same amount of produce as a 40-square-foot farm—all within a 4-foot-square footprint. (Fun fact: It’s one of the first products from The Farm Project, an organization co-founded by actress Zoey Deschanel.)


If you’re not familiar with hydroponic systems, plants grow in water instead of soil, nutrients are delivered via fertilizer in recirculating water, and artificial lights simulate sunlight so that they can grow indoors. In other words, it does all the work for you (which is a good thing if you, like me, cannot do the work successfully). 

Here’s how it works: The vase cycles through water stored in its base and holds 12 to 36 plants in round cubbies that stack on top of one another in modular rings. You can grow all the plants of your liking inside, from strawberries, tomatoes, and Swiss chard to popular herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro, and green onion. 

Did I mention it’s dummy-friendly? After taking the online quiz with 200 seeding options, you’ll receive personalized seedlings with suggestions on where to place each plant. Upon seeding, your plants will be ready to harvest in less than a month, and maintenance is surprisingly minimal. All you have to do is check the water tank and pH meter weekly—if your pH level is off, you just add a scoop of the included "pH Up" or "pH down" chemical. 

The real beauty of it is that you can keep harvesting, and it will keep growing. The regrowth rate is so quick that you’ll find yourself handing out bushels of cilantro like a proud farmer to whoever will take it. It also has a major environmental perk—the model eliminates waste and reduces CO2 emissions and water use by more than 98 percent.

And as someone who gets giddy from organization, it's aesthetically pleasing. The thing stands at about 4 feet to 6 feet tall (depending on how many plants you want) and only a few square feet of floor space. The lights make it look like a futuristic UFO of sorts, so it’s hard not to stop and stare when you pass it by. 

Granted, the system is a financial investment. The price ranges from $399 for 12 plants and $699 for 36. If you choose to use the Farmstand indoors, the brand suggests installing glow rings, which sell for an additional $200. But keep in mind that the garden can last years, during which you’ll get so much organic produce that you’d be spending at the grocery store otherwise. It’s essentially a mini-greenhouse, minus the laborious planting.


If you’re still hesitant about making the jump and ordering one for yourself, you can give it a trial run. Element Hotels (a series of boutique hotels part of Marriott Bonvoy) has a collaboration with Lettuce Grow where you can get direct access to free, farm-fresh produce from the farmstand during your stay at select locations. They also have fully equipped kitchens so you can commit to healthy eating away from home instead of gorging on roadside fast food.

After trying it out for myself, I can say that I’ve become a self-proclaimed horticulturist, and if a black-thumbed gal like me can do it, trust when I say that you can too. 

To buy: From $399; lettucegrow.com.

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