Gardening is such a good way for kids to see nature in action and learn where their food comes from, and it used to be that you needed a yard — or the correct weather — to grow strawberries or basil. But no more. Kids who live with little or no outdoor space can tend to indoor gardens any time of year and watch how dirt, light, and water magically morph seeds into food that they can harvest and eat for dinner. Indoor gardens and herb garden kits give kids the opportunity to care for something, and when kids are involved in food preparation, they gain a sense of ownership, making them more likely to try new things, even weird vegetables.
The idiot-proof self-watering indoor garden makes this process even easier, especially for parents who don’t have the time, the space, or the green thumb, to do, say, raised beds. These planters take the guesswork out of gardening, distributing just the right amount of water for optimal growth. Some even come with their own lighting systems, so you don’t have to parse what really constitutes partial or indirect light. Just add seeds, fill up a water reservoir, plug it in, and watch your plants thrive. Keeping something alive has never been so easy. Or rewarding. Or, actually, delicious.
The Most User-Friendly Indoor Gardens
This self-watering garden includes an LED light that ensures your plants thrive whether there's sun or not, so you can literally use this anywhere in your home. It comes with basil, but you can choose whatever edibles you want, ranging from strawberries to peppers. It's as easy as depositing the plant pod in the garden, adding water, and plugging it in. One fill of the water reservoir lasts two to three weeks.
The Low-Cost Starter Indoor Garden
The most cost-effective option on this list also requires the most effort, but hey, getting your hands dirty is also rewarding. You get everything you need to start your own herb garden; you just provide the pots. This set includes basil, cilantro, mint, dill, parsley, chives, oregano, and thyme, and can be grown indoors or outside, which makes it a good option for spring and fall growing. You get soil starting discs (just add water) and bamboo plant spikes.
The High-Tech Indoor Garden
This hydroponic garden grows plants in water, not soil, promising less mess, and has an LED light panel to promote growth. The kit includes Genovese basil, parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil, and mint seeds, as well as plant food. The control panel tells you when to add water or plant food, so there's little room for error, but it does involve some effort to maintain.
The Most Hard-Core Indoor Gardens
This self-watering, hydroponic planter allows you to grow up to 24 plants at one time with nothing but water. Just add water to the bottom reservoir and plug it in and the planter will pump water upwards, evenly distributing it to each plant. Note that this planter is almost five feet tall, so it's not for the casual plant parent who just wants to see if they can keep some basil alive.
If you want to have serious food to eat, this is the indoor garden for you. It provides plants with light, water, and nutrients in precise amounts. You plant 27 seed pods at once, choosing from tomatoes to lettuce to herbs, and watch everything thrive in a beautiful pine stand, which can be wall-mounted.