3 Best Tabletop Hydroponic Kits for Growing Herbs and Veggies at Home

No garden? No problem. Try growing your own food right on your kitchen countertop with systems that require little space, time or maintenance.

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February 09, 2022

Maybe you’ve heard of hydroponic gardening for growing specific plants in specific states, but the technique is far older than any cannabis laws and also far more versatile. Urban veggie gardeners who have no ground to grow in are finding a solution in hydroponics, which is why gardening companies, both new and traditional, are offering new small-scale hydroponic growing systems — to pique the interest of would-be gardeners interested in growing food. Most of the kits start with culinary herbs like basil, mint and oregano, but you can also try lettuce and other greens, scallions, radishes and even strawberries.

So, first, what does hydroponic even mean? Essentially, hydroponic means growing plants in water instead of soil, and aquaponics (another term you may have heard or seen on lettuce labels at the grocery) is a type of hydroponic growing. In hydroponic setups, water provides one of the necessary ingredients for plant growth. Other essentials are nutrients and light. Some systems rely on natural light while others include artificial light of the right spectrum for photosynthesis. Similarly, some systems require that the gardener supply nutrients (fertilizer) through the water regularly, while aquaponic methods rely on fish (yes, fish!) to provide nutrients via their regular biological activity (💩) in the water.

There are as many ways to grow hydroponically as there are methods of gardening outdoors, some ways more high-tech than others. But there are only a handful of tabletop hydroponic systems available for the average indoor gardener, and we decided to test a few of them. All are around the same price of $100, which may sound steep, but ... if it’s your best option to grow fresh herbs, it may be worth it (plus, the intangible benefits of growing your own food add up quickly, I promise).

Try these hydroponic kits along with me. I’ll be starting with the seeds contained in the kits but hope to expand to tiny tomatoes, peas and peppers soon.

$48 (Set of 2)

These special jars are outfitted with passive hydroponic systems, meaning they water themselves. You can buy them two at a time, with four pretty shades of glass and unique herbs to grow, including basil, parsley, mint and cilantro.

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$149.95 $103

This high-tech, small-space hydroponic system features an LED lighting system that fosters photosynthesis and plant growth even in dark rooms and winter.

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This mini aquaponic tank demonstrates a closed-loop hydroponic system on your countertop or tabletop. The fish fertilizes the plants on top, while the plants filter and clean water in the fish tank below.

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