It's rare that reviewing a device takes six weeks, but then, we don't usually have to wait for nature to let us actually write the review. Click and Grow's Smart Herb garden was released earlier this year. It aims to help users grow perfect herbs with a minimum of effort.
The review device was a long-time in the making, having been the subject of a Kickstarter project early last year. It follows on from Click and Grow's first-generation version, which accommodated just one plant. The new version has room for three.
The herbs are provided in pre-seeded pots with Click and Grow's specially formulated soil. According to the company, the soil "contains pockets for oxygen even when it's wet and supplies plants with an optimal amount of nutrients."
Users receive three herb cartridges of basil, thyme and lemon balm with the Smart Herb Garden, which also has a reservoir for water that needs to be refilled around every 4-6 weeks, and a light strip that encourages plant growth. Click and Grow says that users need only plug the device into the mains and keep it topped up with water. It all sounds very simple.
And, to be honest, it is. Setting up the Smart Herb Garden was easy. The instructions on the box got us up and running and there's more detailed information on the website.
If anything, the Smart Herb Garden was more basic than I was expecting. Firstly, the use of "smart" in a device's name nowadays tends to denote that it's connected to the internet. One could argue that this is a touch misleading, although in isolation it's not a big deal (a website showing data about how your herbs are doing could be quite fun though).
For me, however, some of the language used on the Smart Herb Garden page of the Click and Grow website is also a bit questionable. It talks of "sensors and software" that "measure the conditions and make sure your plant is feeling well," and references the "high tech" that is involved in the device. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that none of the above really held true.
The Smart Herb Garden is, basically, a large reservoir of water into which the herb cartridges are suspended to keep them moist. The light is on a timer, but that's about the most technological aspect of the device itself. The specially formulated soil in the herb cartridges, meanwhile, is the most sophisticated aspect of the whole thing, which Click and Grow rightly makes a point of noting.
I put this to Click and Grow's representatives and was advised that the "sensor" to which the site refers is, in fact, the plastic float that sinks as the water level drops and the "software" that is mentioned is actually for another product, the Smartpot. Why it's mentioned on the Smart Herb Garden page, therefore, I don't know.
The Smart Herb Garden is a fun piece of kit to have around in the kitchen. It does what's expected of it and grows great herbs, as you can see from our lead image. As per the guidance provided, it took about six weeks for each of the herb plants to get to a good size, growing especially rapidly between the fourth and sixth weeks. The plants clearly responded to the light too, which I'm sure helps things along significantly. There are also a variety of refill cartridges to choose from.
Having said all of that, it feels like the device is perhaps being oversold a touch on the website and when you factor in the price of US$99.95, it's hard not to see a reason why that could be the case. Although that price includes three cartridges, it still seems fairly steep.
When you break everything down here, you have some pre-seeded fancy soil, a water trough and a light. Perhaps if it was more high-tech I'd find the price more reasonable. And perhaps Click and Grow thinks the same.
Product page: Smart Herb Garden