This Hydroponic Garden System Solves Your Small-Space Problems With Great Design
Want to grow your own veggies and herbs but are short on space, sunlight or patience — or all three? The Farmstand from Lettuce Grow will have you growing your own in no time.
I practically live for gardening puns these days, so when someone asks if I want to test out a hydroponic garden system called Lettuce Grow, my answer is obviously yes. It also helps that the Lettuce Grow company was co-founded by Zooey Deschanel, who can always pick up my mood via New Girl reruns and also happens to love food gardening and to be a special friend of ours here at HGTV. But puns and personalities aside, the real reason I’m recommending Lettuce Grow is because this thing works — like, really works.
What is Hydroponic Gardening?
Lettuce Grow’s signature product, The Farmstand, is a self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic setup. I’ve shared info about how hydroponic gardening works before when testing tabletop hydroponic systems, but here, again, are the basics: Plants grow in water instead of soil, nutrients are delivered via fertilizer in recirculating water and grow lights simulate sunlight when growing indoors.
While gardening hydroponically removes some of the things I value most about gardening — like being outdoors, getting dirty and getting exercise — it also solves some major barriers keeping people from gardening, including lack of outdoor space, space in general and that ever-elusive resource: time. I’m a big advocate for consumer-friendly hydroponic vegetable gardening for these reasons. After all, as Lettuce Grow explains in their mission, it’s all about getting people growing — for their own health and the health of the environment.
The Farmstand: Form and Function
The Farmstand starts with a 3-foot-8-inch-tall base that holds water and a pump, with a hole for adding water and fertilizer and testing pH. You then add layers for planting six plants at a time. The entry-level option starts with 12 plants (4-foot-3-inch), then you can build up to 18, 24, 30 or 36 plants (six-foot-1-inch). As you can tell from the dimensions, the Farmstead is big. I was honestly surprised how big it was even though the dimensions are listed smack dab in the center of the website.
With The Farmstand being quite large and involving plumbing, at first I was intimidated by the assembly, but it was remarkably easy when following the well-written instructions to the letter. I felt pretty proud of myself for putting it together before I’d even planted or grown anything from it.
With its large size, it’s definitely a statement piece, but thankfully, it’s really good-looking. All-white, it looks very modern, and the curvaceous build gives it a space-age quality. It’s just plain cool. And as the plants grow, it becomes a living sculpture that’s definitely worth showing off.
What Can You Grow in The Farmstand?
You can take a quiz on the website to get a personalized seedling plan based on where you’re growing (indoor, outdoor, shady, sunny, etc.) and where you live (your growing zone). I’m using the 24-plant system indoors, and I let Lettuce Grow pick the pre-sprouted, ready-to-plant seedlings for me from among their 200+ plants.
Indoors, the options vary variety-wise (they offer some really lovely and tasty varieties) but are mostly lettuce, greens and herbs — all things easier to grow indoors. If you’re growing outdoors and in warm weather, the offering expands to include peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, beans and more. I personally would love to see a pumpkin (which they offer!) growing out of this thing. They even include some edible flowers in the mix, including nasturtium and calendula.
Is The Farmstand Worth the Price?
I’m gonna say yes. At $399 for the base model (12 plants), it sounds like a lot, but when you add up the costs for a 4x4 raised bed and soil to fill it, plus plants, it’s about on-par with the initial setup cost for a small outdoor garden. The Glow Rings (new in the product line and currently available for pre-order) are an add-on that’s necessary when growing indoors. They start at $200 for the 12-plant unit, making an initial setup cost for indoor growing $548. Again, sounds like a lot — but if you regularly buy fresh herbs and vegetables (and you should), the cost savings add up quickly. There’s also the timely factor of these herbs and vegetables being right at your fingertips, as opposed to at the grocery, which is an extra consideration when you’re rationing trips to the grocery or when you’re short on time.
If you have limited space outdoors, like a sunny deck but no actual ground, The Farmstand alone is ideal, and you can skip the Glow Rings. If you have a similar space but it’s shady, the Glow Rings will make it work. If you don’t have outdoor space, or if you garden outdoors spring through fall but want to keep growing through winter, as I do, The Farmstand solves your problem. While the majority of photos I see on the Lettuce Grow Instagram community show outdoor growing situations, which is great, I really think that, with the new Glow Rings, it’s an ideal system for growing indoors. I look forward to seeing more pics of indoor gardens like mine popping up in my feed through winter.