Have you noticed that the walls of your home feel smaller than usual? A year of lockdown can do that. I live in a small Dublin City apartment so my walls have felt really tight lately. While we have a local park, there’s nowhere to grow plants or herbs which is something I’ve been keen to do. Sure, there’s the balcony but do you want to eat herbs that have been sitting in the air of rush hour traffic? A startup called Veritable seems to have the perfect solution and they’ve sent it over for me to test.
The Veritable Smart Garden
Made in France, the Veritable Smart Garden makes a bold promise. Once you buy their kit, all you need to do is sit back, relax and watch your plants grow. Then you can harvest them and then enjoy. They say “enjoy” because you can grow herbs, small vegetables, and even edible flowers in the Veritable garden.
The company positions itself as a leader in “indoor urban agriculture” so it did sound like exactly what I needed. Let’s break it down.
What Is An Indoor Smart Garden?
Simply put, an indoor smart garden simulates outdoor growing conditions. Depending on which smart garden you pick, you’ll get a varying amount of connected smart tech too. Veritable has another garden that sends details of growth and your plant’s needs to your phone. The garden I’ve tested out is aimed at being self-sufficient and low maintenance.
How Does A Smart Garden Work?
This particular model, the Veritable SMART 4-slot garden, is really simple. The garden itself has two lights, a two-liter water tank, and four slots for the pre-made Lingots (French for ingots). Once plugged in, this is more or less fire and forget. The height-adjustable lighting system has been specially designed to promote growth, automatically turning on for a period of 16 hours every day. I placed my quite a distance away from natural light and it worked perfected. I have video proof shot as a timelapse over a month.
Veritable even say the plants will grow in a room without windows. All you need to do is keep an eye on the water levels and research when to prune your crops. For the water, you should get three weeks from one fill. I was getting about a week because the apartment has been unusually warm.
Ok, so the lighting tech is pretty cool but the entire system works because of something much older. Hydroponics dates back to the 1600s. Basically, while the traditional growing of crops requires soil, hydroponics depends on the roots of crops usually dangling into water. Because of this the growing process requires some additional nutrient management but the good news is that you don’t need to worry about that either because of the Lingot system.
Beyond the smart garden itself, you’ll need what Vertable calls Lingots. The French word for ingot. Once you open the pack you’ll see what they use this term because they’re like a gold bar. The Lingot contains everything the plants need to grow, most importantly, without you needing to worry about anything when getting up and running.
You’ll get enough Lingots to fill the slots on your smart garden included with your first purchase. I got basil, thyme, parsley, and chives.
Is Buying A Smart Garden Worth It?
There are a few things to consider here.
Price Of Smart Garden
The Veritable smart garden I tested out isn’t what I would consider cheap. To buy the four-slot model directly from Veritable costs €200. That does include your first four Lingots too and these usually cost about €8 each. Understandably, Veritable doesn’t promote whether or not you can use your own soil and seeds, though I’m sure you can if you know what you’re at. In terms of energy use, to run for a year the garden will cost less than €10.
With the numbers laid out, the question remains whether or not buying a smart garden is worth it. For me, the answer is yes.
Yes. Worth It
In nearly every shop every week I pick up herbs. Sometimes I pick up full plants and they eventually die, despite my best efforts. That’s because the plants simply don’t like being indoors. Using a smart garden, particularly with the official Lingots means the plants get everything they need.
It’s not like this purchase doesn’t in some way pay for itself. Once set up, plants can be pruned from as early as four weeks. Each Lingot guarantees you regular harvests for four to six months and will likely go longer. Sure, it’ll probably take a few years to “pay for itself”, but it is possible.
There’s also the enjoyment side of things but this is subjective. I personally really enjoyed growing my basil and looking up when to prune it. When the time to harvest came I cooked some TikTok Pasta. You do grow a little attached to your plants and there is evidence that growing plants and herbs is good for your mental health.
It’s an incredible feeling to cook using herbs grown just a few steps from my kitchen. I’m looking forward to trying out something like the jalapeno Lingot but am happy to wait until my herbs fail.
Learnings From One Month With A Smart Garden
There are a few tips I have. You’ll probably need to get some sort of fly tape. Little critters seemed to really take a liking to my herbs but hell. That’s nature. Also, do some research on when to prune. The more expert amongst you will look at the time-lapse and spot the basil went a little leggy. That’s because I probably could have pruned a week earlier.
The good news is that even with my amazing ability to kill plants, it looks like this is one way, not even I can make a mess of it.
Buy the Veritable Smart Garden directly from the company for €200 with free shipping within the EU.