7 Foolproof Products to Help You Grow a Garden Inside Your Home

The iHarvest
The iHarvest
IGWorks

It can be tough to grow fresh vegetables or herbs at home when you don’t have enough yard space or free time to tend a full-blown garden. Fortunately, there's another way. Countertop gardening systems take the guesswork out of growing herbs and other plants at home. They’re easy to use, even if you’ve never planted a seed in your life, and some are even fully automated, with sophisticated watering and lighting features. Many are hydroponic, meaning they don't even require soil.

Not sure where to start? Here are seven of the best indoor gardening systems you can buy online right now.

1. The BlueSkyGrow Indoor Vertical Garden

A woman chops vegetables next to her indoor garden

BlueSkyGrow, Amazon

If you want to recreate the aesthetic of the verdant bouquets arrayed on the shelves of your local supermarket, this is one way to do it. BlueSkyGrow's hydroponic system lets you grow up to eight fresh herbs and flowers in your home, no soil necessary. It's basically foolproof: Its self-watering drip system means you don't need to do any maintenance for several days at a time, and a touch-screen control panel lets you know when to replenish the water supply.

Buy it from Amazon for $97.

2. The iHarvest

The iHarvest system is ideal for someone who has little time to invest in their garden but still wants to reap maximum rewards in the form of ripe tomatoes, juicy strawberries, fresh basil, and more. It uses LED lamps and recycled water to nourish up to 30 plants at once, and there are hundreds of different plant types to choose from. The iHarvest’s vertical design makes it more compact than your average planter bed, but it still might be a good idea to make sure you have a place to put it first. This garden measures 2 feet, 8 inches wide and covers 2.5 square feet of space.

Buy it from Kickstarter for $599.

3. Mindful Design LED Indoor Herb Garden With Timer

Three potted plants in a Mindful Design garden system

Mindful Design, Amazon

If you’re looking for a garden with some decorative flair, this indoor herb garden from Mindful Design would look great on a kitchen counter or windowsill. It doesn't require any natural light—though it does need to be near an outlet. The apparatus is equipped with LED lights that switch on and off automatically to mimic a plant’s natural cycle. Unlike other indoor garden systems, it also doesn't require any special seed pod. Just grab a pot and add the seed or plant of your choice—as long as it won’t be too tall to fit—and watch it grow!

Buy it from Amazon for $38.

4. The EcoQube Sprout

Not ready to invest in a full-scale garden? Consider starting small. The EcoQube is a “microgarden” that lets you grow microgreens like spinach, kale, and arugula. It can grow up to $20 worth of veggies in 10 days, and additional stackable garden cubes can be purchased to double or triple your output. The EcoQube is also extremely low-maintenance—just add water to the base, put a seed pad in place, and drop in the seeds. The seed pad will automatically absorb the water when your plants get thirsty.

Buy it from Indiegogo for $20 to $60.

5. MoMA's Self-watering pots

If you'd like to keep your garden minimalist, check out these self-watering pots created by Swedish designer Nils Plöjel. Made of terracotta and encased in hand-blown glass, they are as attractive as they are functional, which is how they ended up in the Museum of Modern Art's Design Store. Just fill the glass portion with water, and the plants will soak up the moisture through the terracotta pot as needed. They’re dishwasher-safe and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, as long as the forecast doesn’t call for frost. (Unlike some other systems, they don't have built-in LED lighting, so you'll need a natural light source.) The pots come in three sizes, with the smallest being able to accommodate one or two mini cactuses, and the largest being able to hold an azalea or fern.

Buy it from the MoMA Design Store for $34 to $74.

6. The Dragon-Lily Smart Succulent Planter

A succulent planter

Dragon-Lily, Amazon

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a place that enjoys sunny weather year-round, indoor succulents can be surprisingly easy to kill. This “smart” pot from Dragon-Lily aims to make it a little easier to prolong the beauty of an indoor succulent, regardless of where you live. Its dimmable LED grow light is self-timed, and it also has built-in fans for ventilation purposes. If succulents aren’t your thing, you can also use it to grow a small moss garden.

Buy it from Amazon for $40.

7. Spigo indoor garden

A small potted garden

Spigo, Amazon

This mini garden would be a good starter kit for someone who is new to gardening and wants to keep it simple. Like many of the products above, it relies on automatic LED lights, but you can also dim the lights at will. While it’s comparatively smaller than some of the other gardens on this list, it can still hold a few plants at once, including edible herbs, nettle plants, and succulents. It also features a water gauge so you’ll always know when it’s time for a refill.

Buy it from Amazon for $65.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Keep Your Pet Entertained While You’re Away With This Robotic Ball Toy

Cheerble
Cheerble

The ball is as simple as pet toys come, but even the classic design can be improved upon. Some of the hottest pet accessories on the market today are interactive toys, like Kong chew toys and other puzzle items with room for treats inside. Unlike those products, this ball doesn't cease being entertaining the moment your pet solves a puzzle. The Wicked Ball, currently raising money on Indiegogo, rolls, bounces, and holds your cat or dog's attention all on its own.

Though it looks like a regular ball, the Wicked Ball is actually a robotic toy. A motorized wheel propels the ball around your home, distracting your pet from any trouble it might get into when no one's looking. The gadget can be set to three modes: gentle, normal, and active. In addition to rolling, the ball also vibrates and bounces across the ground to keep things interesting for animals.

Dog with robotic ball toy.
Cheerble

The Wicked Ball is designed to be totally autonomous, so pet owners can rest easy leaving their pet alone with it at home. A built-in collision sensor helps make this possible by alerting the ball to incoming walls and objects so it can avoid getting stuck in tight places. The toys runs on a battery that charges via a USB cord. After charging for an hour, the Wicked Ball lasts for 100 minutes of continuous play. If your pet spends as much time chasing the ball as it does taking breaks, as is typical, the charge will last four hours. Even when it's shut off, a plug in the side of the toy can be filled with treats to keep pets occupied.

The toy is available in a colorful plastic shell for dogs and a gray wool coating for cats. You can purchase either version on Indiegogo for pledge of $34, with shipping estimated for August.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Fuel Your Cold Brew Obsession With This Elegant, Efficient Coffee Maker

Brrrewer
Brrrewer

The sun is scorching, the days are endless, and the gentle clinking of ice cubes in a glass of cold brew coffee sounds like chimes at the gates of heaven itself.

A beverage so divine deserves to be created by a machine to match, right? Meet Brrrewer, a coffee maker that will provide you with the smoothest, sweetest, richest cold brew coffee you’ve ever had—and it’ll do it in just four hours.

Brrrewer uses the cold drip method to brew coffee in which coffee grounds are suspended between two microfilter membranes. Water is poured over the top membrane, then slowly filters through the coffee grounds and drips out from the bottom membrane. The top membrane ensures that the water is evenly distributed among the coffee grounds, and the bottom membrane allows only the water-turned-coffee to fall into the carafe below, without any of the gritty residue. (That gritty residue is often a result of the full immersion method, which is popular among those with French presses; basically, you just steep your coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours, strain out the grounds, and drink.)

The carafe is encased in a second layer of glass, providing thermal insulation and keeping your coffee cold for longer than a regular glass bottle or pitcher. And you can cross “coffee filters” off your shopping list—the microfilter membranes do that job already.

The Italy-based team at Essense designed Brrrewer with elegance and minimalism in mind, so it won’t throw off the aesthetic groove of your kitchen. In fact, it might enhance it. Also, it’s manufactured from a combination of borosilicate glass and BPA-free Tritan plastic; in other words, it’s extra-sturdy and environmentally friendly.

Mixologist Francesco Corona, five-time Italian “Coffee in Good Spirits” champion and world championship finalist, worked with Essense to develop special cocktail recipes for Brrrewer, which you can find in the paperback book, available on its own for $17 or with Brrrewer (the book and coffee maker combo is $78). Order Brrrewer by itself for $67 here, or see other purchase options from Kickstarter.

If four hours is more than you’re willing to wait for cold brew, check out Ninja’s Hot & Cold Brewed System, which can make it in about 15 minutes.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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