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    I Tried Growing With Hydroponics At My Desk And It Went Better Than Expected

    I had no idea it could be this easy!

    I love to grow plants both at home and at work, but I'm not very good at keeping them alive.

    Freer Law / Getty Images

    There are probably a lot of people out there like me. You want to nurture and care for something, but just can't seem to make it work. But now thanks to modern hydroponics and handy phone apps, I thought I'd give it another go.

    I live and work in Japan, and there are a lot of different kits available here. I tried this one with a built-in LED grow lamp from a company called Gakken first:

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    It came with a little plastic cultivation set and an LED light, and was super easy to set up.

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed
    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    It comes with a little tub to hold your plants, but I'm using the bottoms of milk cartons to help contain everything. I planted my mint and basil using the provided sponges, switched on the LED, and I was growing! Pretty easy!

    Next I tried this fancy hydroponic setup from a company called Foop.

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    This one grows more plants at one time, and you can grow them even bigger. I decided on arugula for the Foop kit.

    The Foop machine also comes with a handy app!

    foop

    Which is great for beginners like me. It lets you manage water levels and humidity, and sends you reminders when you need to water your plants.

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    Everything you need to grow comes with the Foop kit, including sponges, fertilizer, and seeds. All you need to do it drop them in their holes, turn it on, and hit "start" inside the app. Done!

    One week later...

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    LED garden: Everything has sprouted. The basil is on the left, and the mint is on the right. They're both looking a little... feeble.

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    Foop: Over in the Foop, things are going very well. Some of the arugula seeds failed to sprout, but that may have been my fault for leaving the seeds too exposed, or for not making the sponge wet enough. I'm a little worried I messed something up.

    Week two:

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    LED Garden: The plants have a little more height now, so I added the top to their outer case. There's a lot of moisture in there, and it looks like I have achieved greenhouse conditions, which is good.

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    Foop: Looks like any mistakes I made during planting have worked themselves out. All the plants are very big and leafy now. Almost ready to harvest already!

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    Also, when the Foop machine runs low on water, there's a little icon on the planter itself that lets you know. When I wasn't around the office, all my colleagues made sure to let me know when the plants needed watering.

    1 month later...

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    Finally, it's harvest time! Both kits grew plants with no issues. The LED garden required seven waterings in total. The Foop system had a big capacity for water, and only needed to be refilled twice.

    Onto the harvest party!!

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    We ordered a plain pizza so that we could use the basil and arugula as toppings! Here's the feedback from people in the office who tried out my desk plants:

    * "They both have such a strong flavor! Definitely better than in restaurants."

    * "It's great that you can eat freshly picked veggies without even washing them."

    * "I can't believe this was grown on your desk... that's so... futuristic."

    Everyone was pretty thrilled.

    As for the mint, the plants grew pretty large in the little LED garden...

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    ...so I harvested a bit of it to enjoy in my tea. It was delicious!

    Hikaru Yoza / BuzzFeed

    What a "fruitful" month! I managed to easily grow fresh veggies and herbs right at my desk. Now I just need to decide what I'll plant next.

    This post was translated from Japanese.

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