Rise Gardens Double Family Garden review: A smart indoor greenhouse

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If you liked the Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System we reviewed in early 2020, but want to grow larger quantities of herbs, fresh leafy greens, and other vegetables indoors and without soil, you’ll gobble up what Rise Gardens has to offer.

The $749 Double Family Garden sent for this review can accommodate up to 24 plants in its two growing trays, and you can stack a third tray ($200) on top and use high-capacity tray lids to grow up to 108 plants. The sturdy trays are fabricated from metal, but they have plastic inserts and plastic lids, both of which are easy to clean. The trays mount to a blonde wooden frame with a metal cabinet at its base. The whole system is attractive, and it looks even better once your plants have sprouted.

If $749 is too much for your budget, a Single Family Garden with one tray sells for $549, and it can be expanded to a Double or Triple Family Garden. There’s also a Personal Family Garden capable of growing eight to 12 plants that sells for $279 (available from Amazon), but it cannot be expanded. All three systems connect to your Wi-Fi network, and from there to a mobile app that tracks your plants’ needs—water and nutrients—and their lifespan, from planting to harvest. More on that in a bit.

two double family gardens Rise Gardens

Two Single Family Gardens placed side by side. The cabinets in the base house the water tank and control board, leaving room for supplies and accessories.

The system in detail

In the double and triple models, the distance between the bottom tray and the second level is high enough to accommodate taller plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and chard. You’re limited to growing shorter herbs and lettuces in the second and third trays. That growth height is a feature the also-expandable Miracle-Gro system doesn’t offer. A metal cabinet with twin doors in the base of the unit where you can store your supplies is another.

The system measures 36 x 16 x 52.625 inches (WxDxH). Adding the third tray increases the height to 66.25 inches. The 5-gallon water reservoir in the bottom cabinet virtually eliminates any chance that the system will topple over once it’s filled, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to move it more than a few inches once it’s in use, and only then if it’s on hard-surface flooring you can slide it across.

Full-spectrum LED grow lights are mounted in the bottom and top of the second shelf (and in the bottom and top of the third shelf with the Triple system). By default, these remain on 16 hours a day and then automatically turn off. You can also manually control—and dim—them, either by pressing a button on the right-hand door or via the app. A stack of five LED bars on this same door informs you of the water level in the reservoir and turns from green to red if the reservoir is overfilled, posing the danger of an overflow if the power should go out or the pump fail.

That submersible pump gets placed inside the reservoir in the cabinet, and it sends water up a vinyl tube (threaded through a protective ABS plastic pipe) to the highest shelf. Water circulates around the tray wetting the seed pods at this level. Once the tray is full, the water drains down to the lower level(s) through other ABS pipes until it returns to the reservoir.

plant nursery Michael Brown / IDG

Using these nursery trays lets you sprout seedlings, increasing your production without taking up any spots in the regular growing trays.

Rise Gardens says the system (more accurately, the plants in the system, plus some evaporation) will consume about three gallons of water per week, but I found that it used far less water than that until the plants were mature. Also, growing cherry tomatoes, peppers, and Swiss chard in the bottom tray (due to their height at maturity) required a lot more water than just growing lettuces and herbs.



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