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Tending to this Vertical Garden Is My Best Quarantine Hobby to Date

I’ve been quarantining with my parents in their home since last year—which means I’ve been picking up and dropping hobbies left and right just to stay sane. I bought roller skates (lasted a day), busted out all my old violins (snapped the strings tuning them, so also less than a day), blasted wet clay all over my basement with a pottery wheel only to admit defeat in an hour, and like, a lot, lot more. Are you sensing a theme here? I’ve given up on all these things with lightning speed except for one new hobby: gardening.

Specifically, doting on the plants in my Lettuce Grow Farmstand, an aesthetic hydroponic (i.e., the process of growing plants without soil) vertical garden planter that produces more lettuce, peppers, squashes, and herbs than my family can even eat by ourselves.

I started out gardening last year, with traditional methods like square-foot gardening and plopping tomato plants from seed into random areas in my backyard. While growing stuff in dirt in the ground seems like it’d be easy, reader: It is not. Turns out I do not have the patience for traditional gardening methods. Buying dirt (and yeah, you actually have to buy compost and dirt for square foot gardening) is both expensive and a hassle. Plus, standing in the hot sun watering a box every day was not for me. Not to mention, anything I did seem to grow halfway was quickly destroyed by bunnies. Sounds cute, feels bad.

The Farmstand

Lettuce Grow
lettucegrow.com

$348.00

So, when I saw skinfluencer Charlotte Palermino showing off some lettuce she grew in a cool, vertical hydroponic planter, I knew I needed one ASAP.

Enter: the Lettuce Grow Farmstand. It’s a vertical garden that uses hydroponics to let you grow up to 36 different plants sans soil and with the smallest square footage possible. You use 95% less water, they donate one per ten sold, and the stand itself is made of ocean-bound plastic. It’s a legit powerhouse of a gardening setup. And did I mention it’s also really effing chic?

You choose how many plants you’ll want to grow (the modular system lets you add on anytime, so you can always add more later), order seedlings from the site (trust me, you’ll want to buy theirs and not DIY it as germinating seedlings is such a waste of time), and simply plop the seedlings into their little holes. Fill up the base with water and add some nutrients and you’re good to go!

Unlike watering my backyard tomatoes every day, the Farmstand only needs a little bit of water top-up every week. You’ll also have to do weekly maintenance by adding more nutrients, but this is super easy as the instructions tell you exactly how much to add based on the number of plants you’ve got.

Within weeks, I had my own lettuce. And not just, like, blah lettuce, it’s really freakin’ good lettuce. And herbs. And even a cute baby watermelon! Suddenly making a salad for lunch at home wasn’t depressing—it was braggadocios. Like, hi, I grew this.

The Farmstand is freakishly productive, too. I saw growth within two weeks! With my dumb ground garden, I had to wait all summer to get… one messed-up looking tomato. The utter efficiency of the Farmstand can also make you competitive about gardening. With other plants, I’ll be like, “No, I’m gonna keep this dead lemon tree here for three years instead of admitting defeat.” But with my Farmstand, the second I see anything wilting, I’m like, “Move the ef out of the way, you’re taking up space!” and go onto their handy app (which I actually use enough that it hasn’t automatically deleted itself) to order more seedlings.

Yeah, I’ve been growing strawberries in New England all winter, NBD

Did I mention I’ve also been using it all year? Yeah, I’ve been growing strawberries in New England all winter, NBD, thanks to their Glow Rings. These grow lights surround the Farmstand for max grow light-age, use minimal electricity, and are powerful enough to keep your crop growing year-round. And unlike other grow lights, these aren’t the blue-and-red grow lights (not my style TBH), but a nice, cool, bright white light. Chic!

Glow Rings

Lettuce Grow
lettucegrow.com

$350.00

I’ve had the Farmstand for less than a year, and it’s completely changed the way I eat. Fancy salads are available pretty much anytime now—all I have to do is walk to the living room and pick out what I wanna eat. And after putting in the “work” to grow my own greens, I really don’t wanna be eating (or paying) for store-bought stuff. I also bring it up to everyone—that is, if they don’t see it in my Zoom backgrounds and immediately ask about it first. If only they made table-top Farmstands, I’d be buying one for every holiday, birthday, and thank you gift. Lettuce Grow, please LMK if that changes in the future. Until then, I’ll be living my best sad happy desk salad life.

Pros:

  • You see results faster, thanks to the pre-sprouted seedlings
  • There’s minimal maintenance and it’s very prescriptive, so no guesswork and hoping for the best only to be disappointed two days later when that new fertilizer you thought you’d try out effs up a season of hard work.
  • It’s pretty!
  • The Glow Rings are legit like the best, brightest lights in our whole house?
  • It really is more eco-friendly than the carbon footprint of me driving or getting soil delivered and watering every single day

    Cons:

    • Expensive initial cost, although in the long term of even one growing season, it’s considerably cheaper than traditional gardening.
    • You can only grow 36 plants at a time—although I’m pretty sure I’m gonna pull the trigger on getting a second one this summer, it’s that good.

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