The Sonnylight LED Kitchen Garden is the ultimate gift for any gardener in your life. I stumbled upon it while browsing through the Toys and Gadget section on the Discovery Store online. The LED Kitchen Garden is definitely not a toy and I wouldn't classify it as a gadget either. It is a serious product that can start plants from seed or nurture plants purchased from your local garden center. Start plants growing in the LED Kitchen Garden and when the time is right, transplant them to your outside garden. But wait, that's not all. You can keep the plants in the glow of the LED Kitchen Garden from seeds to harvest in your kitchen or basement if that serves your gardening needs. Grow your veggies and flowers all year round regardless of the weather. How cool is that?
The Sonnylight LED Kitchen Garden can be assembled anywhere that you have the space and a power outlet. Your kitchen might be an obvious choice but your basement, a spare bedroom or bathroom would work just as well. You can even set it up in a closet if you have a source of electricity there. I set it up on a table in my below ground basement. The temperature is fairly constant around 70 degrees and there is a bathroom close by to provide water for the plants.
As I opened the box to assemble the Kitchen Garden, I was struck by the care with which the people at Sonnylight had packaged their product. Each piece of the device was lovingly protected in an all cotton bag so it would arrived scratch free. They even included a nice little cotton tote with the Sonnylight logo embroidered on the front. These are all really nice touches but would the LED Kitchen Garden really grow my veggies indoors?
LED Kitchen Garden Parts and Features
- 1 Extension Cap
- 1 LED Light Hood
- 2 Aluminum Extension Arms
- 1 Extension Connector
- 1 10" x 20" standard nursery grow tray
- 1 Base plus 4 screws to attach the hood to the extension to the Base
- Power Supply and AC adapter
- Printed Owner's Manual
- Product Dimensions: Base - approx. 23.6"(L) x 14"(H) x 3"(W); Hood - approx. 21.8"(L) x 13.5"(H) x 2"(W); Extends up to approx. 28" high
- Made Of: Non-toxic recyclable materials
- Number of LEDs: 144 8mm LEDs
- LED Colors: 6 colors - purple, blue, green, orange/red, red, white
- Light Source Life: Approximately 75,000 hours or 12 years at 20 hours/day; 7 days/week
You will have no problem finding a suitable mix of soil at your local Home Depot, Lowes or other garden center. Seeds might be another issue entirely. Since I was setting this up in late November, none of these places had any seeds left in stock. That put a little crimp in my time frame but I was able to find the seeds I needed at Burpee online. I ordered patio varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers but you could just as easily find flower seeds or even plants if the season is amenable to shipping live plants to your location. Burpee has a huge selection and I had my seeds in only 3 or 4 days. Problem solved.
Sonnylight has put together the best Owner's Manual you could possibly want. Not only does it give you step-by-step instructions for setting up the LED Kitchen Garden, it explains what you're doing and why you're doing it. They provide all the information you need for the use, care and cleaning of your LED Kitchen Garden. They also include an email address and a Toll Free phone number that you can use if you have questions. They are happy to address any questions, concerns, and suggestions you might have. They would also appreciate your feedback.
Using The Sonnylight LED Kitchen Garden
Following the excellent instructions in the manual, I set the following:
- The Time of Day
- Sunrise Time: 6:30am
- Sunset Time: 8:30pm
- Plant Type: Standard Leaf Fruiting
- Grow Phase: S Auto_Grow
The manual will walk you through each step and explain everything as you go along.
The Sunrise feature gradually increases the light's brightness over a period of 15 minutes to closely simulate a real sunrise. The Sunset function does the same thing in reverse over a similar 15 minute period.
Plant Types - There are 5 different plant types for you to choose from.
- Standard Leaf- No Fruit - This is pretty much any leafy plant the doesn't produce a fruit or flower. This does not include leafy veggies like spinach, kale or lettuce but does include herbs and decorative plants.
- Standard Leaf Fruiting - This would be veggies (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.) and berries.
- Flowering Plants - Any type of flower for your garden or home such as roses, tulips, or orchids.
- Broad Leaf - This is the category for your spinach kale, lettuce, and other large leaf plants that produce tubers (turnips, radishes, etc.).
- Sprouts - This is the optimal setting to grow sprouts for your salads, sandwiches and healthy snacking. The Sonnylight will use the best light wavelengths in the blue and purple ranges to grow your sprouts but doesn't allow for the G grow phase or the F grow phase.
There are many more than 5 actual types of plants but for this purpose the list has been simplified to only 5. Your selection of the correct plant type will determine which light wavelengths the Sonnylight will use during each of your plant's various grow phases.
The Sonnylight LCD Screen provides you with 4 choices for your plant's Grow Phases:
- Start 'S' is the earliest phase and provides light in rich blues and purples required for your seed to germinate and sprout correctly.
- Growth 'G' is the next phase in your plant's vegetative phase. This is indicated by true leaf growth and will occur in 15 to 30 days depending on the plant species.
- Flowering 'F'- You'll know it's time to switch to this phase when you see buds, flowers or fruit on your plants.
- S Auto_Grow - This setting automatically adjusts the light wavelengths according to a predetermined number of days for each phase so you don't need to do anything but select this grow phase and Set it.
Cucumber seeds and 2 varieties of tomatoes were planted on November 19 and placed under the LED Kitchen Garden's light hood. As directed, the LED lights were positioned about 2 inches above the soil to start, and later, 2 to 6 inches above the top of the plants.
The first cucumber plant appeared 6 days later with 3 more to follow over the next 3 days. The tomatoes appeared over the next 4 days. About this time, my cats discovered that there were plants growing and one of the cucumber seedlings was chewed off and did not survive. I subsequently fortified the defenses around the Kitchen Garden so the cats can't get up on the table and there have been no further casualties. All the veggies now have their variegated leaves and no longer look like seedlings. The tomato plants are now, on Christmas Eve, close to a foot tall and all the plants are ready to transplant to larger containers. The plants are thriving and although it's a long way off from harvesting any vegetables, I'm looking forward to that day.
Growing my garden inside means there won't be caterpillars or other insects eating the leaves or fruit, so no need for insecticides. The vegetables will not fall prey to rabbits, deer, or other critters outside. If my cats become a problem again, I can always move the Kitchen Garden into a bedroom or closet to protect the plants.
This has to be the ultimate gift for any gardener. It is so exciting to have tomatoes and cucumbers growing in my basement at Christmas time. The LED lights put out little or no heat so the cost is said to be about $12 a year which is far below the cost of using other traditional grow lights currently on the market.
The Sonnylight LED Kitchen Garden is not an inexpensive toy. It is a product that offers a real benefit to your family and healthy food production any time of year with no green thumb required. The cost of the Sonnylight LED Kitchen Garden is an investment in your future and a better way of growing your own food. It is available from the Discovery Store online and the Sonnylight Store online. When I started my seeds a month ago, there were many other online retailers that listed this product in stock. They are now sold out. Order your LED Kitchen Garden before they all disappear.