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.

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Put Shakespeare's Best Insults On a Poster, Coffee Mug, or Even Some Bandages

Take your insult inspiration from the master: William Shakespeare.
Take your insult inspiration from the master: William Shakespeare.
Curious Charts Commission/Three Rivers Press/Amazon

If you’ve ever struggled to find the words to describe how angry or frustrated someone is making you, perhaps William Shakespeare, iconic writer and master of insults, can help.

Adorned with 100 insults from the Bard's many works, this poster from Curious Charts Commission (Amazon, $25) is the perfect reference piece to hang in your home or office for when you're struggling to think of the perfect takedown for anyone who crosses you. To help you get started, the 18-inch-by-24-inch poster is broken up into sections that include food and drink; types of individuals; inanimate objects; bodily qualities; creatures; and—of course—personal attributes and traits. Once you’ve decided the optimal route to take, you have a wide array of put-downs to choose from, ranging from “Were I like thee, I’d throw away myself,” to slightly simpler ones like, “You egg!”

The only drawback to the poster is that you can't take it everywhere with you. But the 14-ounce Shakespeare insults mug ($16), on the other hand, is the perfect choice for snark on the go. So next time a chatty co-worker tries to tell you about their weekend before you've even had your Monday morning coffee, you can simply look up and call them the "anointed sovereign of sighs and groans."

A mug decorated with Shakespeare insults.
Shakespeare insult mug from Unemployed Philosopher's Guild.
Unemployed Philosopher's Guild/Amazon

If, after all that, you’re still struggling to find the words, Shakespeare’s Insults: Educating Your Wit ($12), a book of 5000 slights pulled from 38 of Shakespeare’s plays, can be of assistance. Or, you can help heal a physical wound by dishing out an emotional one with these Shakespearean insult bandages ($6). You get 15 in a pack, and each box comes with a prize inside. 

Shakespeare Insult Bandages.
Shakespeare insult bandages found on Amazon.
Accoutrements/Amazon

Beyond a repertoire of insults, Shakespeare also coined many words we still use today. Check out the full list here.

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!

These Eco-Friendly Bags Are Organic and Break Down in 18 Months or Less

A-Zero
A-Zero

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single-use plastics in your life, then reach for these fully compostable organic bags.

The A-Zero bags (which are available on Kickstarter here) may look a lot like their plastic counterparts, but they’re actually made from vegetable starch. According to the campaign, these totes are 100 percent organic, are harmless to nature, and can break down in a matter of 18 months—unlike plastic bags, which take hundreds of years. Each bag also features unique designs created by different artists from all over the world.

When it comes to sizes, you have a few different options. The smallest bag, ideal for snacks and sandwiches, is leak-proof and freezer-friendly, and can even be used in the microwave. A-Zero also makes leak-proof trash bags, grocery bags that can hold up to 18 pounds of food, and a refillable bag dispenser that can hold 20 or more grocery bags and can clip onto a backpack or purse.

You might be thinking that you already have a reusable tote at home, but unfortunately, these also have a detrimental effects on the environment. A 2011 British government study [PDF] estimated that with all the water and energy it takes to create a cotton bag, each one has a carbon footprint of 598.6 pounds of CO2, compared to a plastic bag’s 3.48 pounds.

With $22,522 raised, A-Zero bags already surpassed its original $8000 goal. But you can still help bring the project to life and get your own eco-friendly bags by heading here. Pledge tiers start at $29, and the campaign will be live until April 11.

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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