If it hasn’t already been established thoroughly enough, I have a black thumb. If I’m tasked with any gardening duty beyond cutting a lawn, I’m most likely going to kill it dead. That’s why I was skeptical when Miracle-Gro sent over their latest project for me to tinker with.
What Is It?
The Miracle-Gro Twelve is an “indoor growing system” that uses hydroponics, grow lights, and a little bit of smart tech to grow herbs and vegetables indoors. Housed in a modern-looking black and white end table, the Twelve brings functional greenery to any room and makes you feel like a gardening genius (without actually being one).
How Does It Work?
One of my fondest memories is going to EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. There, you can take a boat ride through The Land pavillion. It’s a surprisingly soothing look at the future of food growing. You learn about their research into alternate crops, soil-free growing, and, you guessed it, hydroponics.
Hydroponics planters have been around for a bit, mostly in the form of large-scale tower planters that you need to dedicate a large chunk of real estate to (and still need sunlight). The Twelve takes those hydroponic ideas and mashes them up with an LED light and smart tech to create a completely enclosed growing system.
Pop open the Twelve app before you get started. It’ll walk you through account creation and assembly of your system.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Once you get the system in place and filled with water, it’s time to add some plants! Eventually, you’ll be able to get seedlings from Miracle-Gro’s partner, Bonnie Plants through the app. But in the meantime you can either buy them directly from the site, supply your own seedlings, or grab a few packs of seeds and get to work!
Either way, all the materials you need to get your plants started come in the box – peat liners if you’re transplanting seedlings or peat plugs and smaller filler cups if you’re using seeds. Once you get your plants set, you let the app know what you’ve planted.
For now, you’re limited to leafy greens and a few different herbs, but hopefully more plants will be added in the future. While you don’t have to stick to the plants listed in the app, if you do you get expert advice on how long it will take for them to be ready for harvest, how to harvest, when to feed your plants (by adding fertilizer directly to the reservoir), and more. And yes, everyone who saw it asked if I was growing…ahem…medicinal plants.
But Does It Work?
The LED grow lights operate for a recommended eight hours a day (you can dim the light or turn it off as needed). Tell the app when you want the table to turn on and it will make sure your plants get all the “sun” they need to be healthy.
The reservoir is constantly pumping water over the roots of your plants, ensuring they’re getting enough water and fertilizer. When operating and full, it’s surprisingly quiet. The only time you’ll ever really notice the sound is if the water has gotten low or you’ve shifted a plant so that it’s not quite in its own stream of water anymore. I’ve had one in my office for months and can conduct meetings without any interruption.
Thinking back to those lessons I learned from Disney’s The Land, I was certain that this little hydroponic system would work. I just wasn’t prepared for how well it would work.
I watched the plants shoot up over the course of a month (especially the Italian parsley), went away for a weekend, and came back to them positively overflowing the space under the table.
I had enough basil to make three batches of pesto (with plenty left over for sandwich garnishes and marinara sauce). I have so much Italian parsley that I’m frankly at a loss as to how to deal with it all. And I’ve got mint for days. I’ve made feta and watermelon salads, mojitos…actually that’s all I’ve made because I could really use some additional mint recipes.
The Twelve system will recommend how long to keep your plants around and when to sunset your crop and plant something new. Then you get to start the process again. Indoors. Where it’s cool.
Where Can I Get It?
The Twelve Indoor Growing System can be found on Amazon and Miracle-Gro’s own site for $299.
That site is where you’ll eventually be able to sign up for a plant subscription service that will send plants and fertilizer on a monthly basis. Hopefully the subscription will be variable, because the plants that you grow in the Twelve can last for two months or more depending on how often you harvest them. That, and the subscription is a fairly steep $39.99 per month.
In fact the price is really my only sticking point with the Twelve system. I appreciate what Miracle-Gro is doing and everyone who’s seen it in my home has asked about it. But $300 to start and potentially $480 per year is a very big ask to grow greens and herbs inside your home. There’s also the electric costs to consider. While it’s not huge, the extra draw from the Twelve system has made enough of a difference on my monthly electric bill for me to notice (though, that amount isn’t more than it would have cost to buy packs of fresh herbs at the store).
That said, if your only consideration is whether or not you can grow vegetables and herbs in the comfort of your own home without making it look like a greenhouse, Miracle-Gro’s Twelve growing system undoubtedly fits the bill.
Twelve makes growing effortless, easy, and fun and adds a nice bit of greenery and light to any room. If it works for a black thumb gardener like me, it’ll work for anyone. As long as you’re not put off by the cost, I highly recommend the system.