Growing a garden has never been easier. Even if you have poor soil, no garden space or limited sunlight, the Lettuce Grow Farmstand allows you to grow fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits with very little time or effort.
The Farmstand is a self-contained unit that can support up to 36 plants. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight outside and a place to plug it in so the pump can receive power. With the addition of grow lights, you can move the Farmstand indoors where it will receive 14 hours of controlled light for optimal growth. You don’t even have to place it next to a window (although you’ll want to put it somewhere you can watch it grow!)
The benefits of the system are many. Obviously farm-to-table freshness can’t be beat with the garden a few feet away. And, like all plants, your garden helps clean the air through photosynthesis, sucking up carbon and replacing it with oxygen. This particular design is great for urban or apartment gardeners who don’t have space to plant raised beds or propagate crops in rows. Basically, it’s a garden anyone can plant and maintain. Plus, you can monitor the entire process through a mobile app.
To get started, you can order the Farmstand with a setup for 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 plants. Each additional layer adds space for six more plants. Your Farmstand is sent directly to your home and set up is quick and easy (see review below). Once you’ve put the Farmstand together, added and tested water and placed your live plants into place, you can watch the hydroponic system go to work.
Over the course of a few weeks, plants grow to usable size. Actually, you can take clippings at any time. Or, you can wait and harvest a plant all at once. It’s really up to you to decide how to best use your Lettuce Grow Farmstand.
On the other hand, Lettuce Grow donates one Farmstand for each 10 sold and supports a myriad of educational programs. Plus, each Farmstand reduces food waste and eliminates food transport emissions.
Lettuce Grow Farmstand review
The company offered to send me a sample Farmstand to use and review. I did hesitate briefly. I’ve received other systems only to later find the replacement plants were prohibitively expensive or the system just didn’t work that great. This is not that. This is everything I wanted it to be.
First, the setup arrived quickly. I was content to see the absence of plastic foam and the use of recyclable packing materials. The box is huge and durable. So now I’m using it to hold my garden tools such as shovels, rakes and hoes. Kind of ironic, don’t you think?
I asked my teenage son to help with the set up. Although it’s easily a one-person job, I figured I’d use the opportunity to engage him outside of video games. I read through the directions while he set up the Farmstand. It took us less than half an hour of partially dedicated time.
The seedlings come in recyclable containers that are clearly labeled. Each plant is also equipped with keys indicating whether it should be placed in full sun or if it’s shade tolerant. With this guide, we quickly dropped the plants in place.
The base of the Farmstand is the water reservoir. After adding water to the desired height, we used the provided test kit to evaluate the water. We are on a community well and the readings were very high so we added pH lower until it moved within the desired range. The company also includes a proprietary nutrient blend and the complete test kit with your Farmstand. I’ve been using it for over three weeks and have plenty of supplies left.
With the water in balance, we set the timer, which is also included with the system. There are basically three suggested settings in the instructions depending on the temperature where your Farmstand is located. We had a series of cloudy days and cooler weather early on, but then summer burst out with a string of 90 degree days.
So, I made a few adjustments in the beginning so the pump turned on less frequently. I don’t think the extra water hurts anything, but I figured there’s no reason to use extra electricity when it’s not needed. Besides the fresh produce ready for consumption, my favorite part of the Farmstand is that it uses the same water consistently, making it very water efficient. I did add a bit more after about two weeks when noticeable evaporation had occurred. The system obviously uses much less water than traditional gardening.
The basic mechanism of the Farmstand is a small pump that pushes water up through a tube in the center of the system. Once it reaches the top, the water rains down on the plant roots. Since it’s not touching the leaves or stalks like a sprinkler would, there’s no rot or water spots. Once each week, I retest the water and make adjustments as needed. It takes about five minutes and it’s the only care required. Although I would argue talking to your plants is a requirement too. And why wouldn’t you want to coo over those beautiful things?
I asked the company to surprise me with the plants they sent, and I received a wide variety of edibles, including lettuce to, kale, herbs, marigolds, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. We are beginning harvest three weeks after planting. All the plants look healthy and the food tastes amazing.
We have a short season where I live, so I’m looking forward to moving the Farmstand inside and adding the grow lights after ordering more plants. There are around 50 plants for each season, so there’s plenty of variety to choose from and I’m thrilled to imagine harvesting fresh garden produce in the middle of winter. Yes, please!
Images via Lettuce Grow and Dawn Hammon
Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Lettuce Grow. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.