Rise Gardens are smart, Wi-Fi-connected hydroponic gardens designed for indoor use. All the Rise Garden units (starting at $279) use continuous-flow solution culture, meaning a stream of water is aerated and continuously flows past the roots of the plants to keep them healthy and thriving—no dirt necessary. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry: It’s actually one of the easiest ways to grow plants.
The sprouting process is where things got really fun. When you receive the unit, it comes with 12 starter plants and a little plastic nursery box to get them started in. You simply place your seed “pods” (seeds nestled into an impressively small amount of cup-shaped dirt) into slots in the plastic nursery container with a little bit of water, close the lid, and wait a few days for them to sprout. You can use the app to keep track of where each seed is being placed, and it will provide information about each plant, from sprout to harvest.
The real power of Rise is in the companion app. While the design can be a little clunky (it’s constantly being updated and improved), the app guides you through the care of the plants from sprout to bloom. It’s truly marvelous to see something grow from a speck to two tiny little leaves—sprouts look the same at first.
Once the sprouts are situated in the big unit, you fill the system with 3-5 gallons of water and set up a sensor that will tell you exactly how to take care of the plants. They will need specific nutrients in order to grow and thrive, and the app sends you push notifications about what kind of care your plants need, and when. The app gives very straightforward instructions, easy enough for children to follow along and help with. Four types of bottled nutrients are used in the system: Sprout, Thrive, PH Balance, and Blossom. Sensors tell you when to use them, as well as when to add water—so even that aspect of growing is easy. Keep in mind that the garden will start requiring more nutrients more frequently as the plants get bigger and start consuming more, so order accordingly.
Topping your tacos with cilantro you grew, adding fresh basil to a pasta dish, eating fresh lettuce and cherry tomatoes—these delicious, rewarding experiences are worth every minute you spend tending your hydroponic unit. The Rise Garden offers a great opportunity to learn about your food, and it could be a great tool for teaching children about farming, even in a small apartment.
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