Fresh Square countertop growing units offer easy indoor gardening

Fresh Square countertop grow unit
© Fresh Square

As interest in producing clean food at home continues to grow, a whole crop of indoor growing units are sprouting up to meet demand, such as this latest entry into the countertop growing scene, Fresh Square.

For those who don't have yard space for a garden, or access to a community garden, or even those who do but would like to grow year-round, regardless of the weather, small indoor gardening units can be a great option. And with today's low-power LED lights, along with the adoption of self-watering methods, these countertop units can be one solution for adding to a low-carbon and water-conserving locally-grown food supply.

Fresh Square is similar to other indoor growing units we've seen before, with energy efficient LED lights providing the sun-like illumination, and automatic controls for it, an adjustable lighting array, and a passive self-watering system for ease of maintenance. The units can be stacked on top of each other for a larger compact garden, and can go on the counter or sit as a standalone unit, with each unit being capable of growing up to 12 salad greens, herbs, or small veggie plants.

Where this unit seems to depart from the usual in indoor growing appliances is its use of 'smart' soil (which, to be honest, anyone can source on their own and use with any soil-based growing setups), or soil that includes not just the nutrients necessary for growing green plants (as opposed to many sterile potting soil mixes, which do not), but also the beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae that are needed for optimal growth. This understanding alone, that plants don't grow nearly as well without a healthy soil biology, is one good reason to take a second look at the Fresh Square.

The Fresh Square system can be used either with the 'smart' soil and seed refills from the company (which are organically grown and non-GMO varieties), or with soil and seeds sourced independently. The units measure 51 cm (20") wide by 36 cm (14") deep by 50 cm (20") tall, and weigh 10 kg (22 lb) when empty, and once in operation, the water supply is said to last up to three weeks before needing to be refilled.

The company is currently in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, where backers at the $189 USD level will be among the first to receive their Fresh Square unit and a set of 12 plant refills, with delivery expected sometime in June of 2017.

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