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Planter systems make indoor gardening easy

A tasty salad of tender pea shoots. Handfuls of fragrant herbs for the stew. Snack veggies for lunch boxes.

Keeping a fresh supply of greens and herbs on hand can be challenging as the growing season winds down, or if you don’t have a garden. But now you can plop a planter anywhere in your house, set a few timers, and in about 10 days you’ll be nibbling greens. All year round.

A vertical garden from LA Urban Farms will provide fresh greens and herbs year-round. (Associated Press)

There are a variety of indoor grow gardens on the market that come with everything you need: planter, planting medium, seeds, fertilizer and a high-intensity grow light. Smart tech and remote controls adjust lighting and moisture levels, so even if your thumb’s not the greenest, you can still find success.

Linnea and Tarren Wolfe of Vancouver, British Columbia, decided to design a home grower after watching their kids gobble up sunflower and pea-shoot microgreens.

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Their Urban Cultivator looks like a wine fridge. It comes as a free-standing unit, topped with a butcher block, or it can be installed under the counter and hooked up like a dishwasher. The company offers an extensive seed selection, but anything from your local garden center will grow.

Linnea Wolfe advises home gardeners to research the benefits of the edible, immature greens known as microgreens.

“Most of them only take about 7 to 10 days to grow,” she says. “You can mass-consume them, and the health benefits are extraordinary.”

Miracle Gro’s line of Aerogarden indoor planters includes the Sprout, which is about the size of a coffee maker and suitable for herbs, as well as a larger model in which you could grow just about anything. Pre-packaged seed pods like lettuces, cherry tomatoes, herb blends and petunias come ready to pop in the planter. An LCD control panel helps adjust lighting and watering needs.

Click & Grow’s planter is compact. It has room for three plants, and an LED light pole and special lightweight soil are included. The planter comes in white, gray or beige. There’s a walnut wood case available for the herb model.

LA Urban Farms’ vertical garden would make a vibrant addition to a sunny kitchen or sunroom. A circulating pump brings a soothing burble of water up and through the tower-shaped planter.

So what to grow in it?

“Leafy greens such as arugula, kale and butter lettuce, and herbs such as parsley, cilantro, thyme and oregano prove to be easiest for indoor growing,” says LA Urban Farms’ founder Wendy Coleman, of Los Angeles.


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