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When I purchased my Click & Grow Smart Garden 3, one of the first things I wondered was whether or not I needed to use their pre-made seed pods – which are quite expensive – or if I could just use some of my own regular soil with seeds I purchased at the local garden centre. Surely that would be a much cheaper, better option? Well, I’m afraid to say it wasn’t.
While it is possible to use regular soil in your Click & Grow smart garden it’s not recommended. The seed pods that come with Click & Grow are made from specialised ‘Smart Soil’ which is packed full of nutrients tailored to the specific seeds they contain. Using regular soil, while technically viable, is unlikely to result in optimal plant growth as it doesn’t contain all of the specific nutrients they need.
In this article, I’ll take a look at the Click & Grow Smart Soil in more detail and assess why it’s the best option for optimal growing results.
Why Click & Grow ‘Smart Soil’ works better than regular soil
Click & Grow Smart Soil is specifically designed to provide the perfect growing medium for plants. Additionally, each pod is packed full of nutrients that have been tailored to specific plant types.
What is the Click & Grow Smart Soil actually made of?
Well, it’s not made of soil. According to the website, Click & Grow Smart Soil is made from “a patented nano-material”. I did some digging and found the patent in question.
Smart Soil is designed for elasticity and strength that goes beyond other polyurethane-based plant-growing media (such as polyurethane foam). Resultingly, the Smart Soil is made from the following ingredients:
- Polyvinyl formal (PVF)
- Aldehyde solution, preferably formaldehyde (solution)
- Concentrated sulphuric acid
- Distilled water
- Starch, preferably potato starch
- Coco Coir/Peat
Depending on the seed pod purchased, it may also contain fertilizers and a small amount of limestone to balance the PH.
The PVF and coir are used to better support the root structures of young plants while the added minerals, such as limestone, are used to make the growing environment more suitable for plant growth.
What nutrients and minerals are in the Click & Grow Smart Soil?
In addition to the elements used to make the Smart Soil itself, Click & Grow adds around 2-4 plant seeds to each pod along with a bunch of minerals (N, P, K, Mg, Ca and other microelements) that are tailored to the seeds within each pod.
|Atmospheric nitrogen is the most common gas on earth and is a key element for plant growth. Nitrogen is found in all plant cells, proteins, hormones and chlorophyll.
|Phosphorus is important for transferring energy from the sun to plants. It also helps to nurture young roots and quickens maturity.
|Potassium improves plants’ resistance to disease and promotes the development of starch, sugars and oils. It can also help to improve fruit quality.
|Magnesium is the key element found in chlorophyll, which gives plants their green colour and is vital for their ability to photosynthesise.
|Calcium improves root health, encouraging the growth of new roots and root hairs. It is also important for leaf development.
|These are likely to contain trace elements of Iron (FE), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zu), Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). These trace elements are important to support photosynthesis and the development of proteins, hormones and cells among other functions essential for healthy growth.
Are Click & Grow seed pods organic?
Click & Grow seed pods are not certified organic. They are pesticide, fungicide, insecticide and plant hormone-free, some of the mineral salts that are used, although chemically the same as in all organic fertilisers, are not certified as organic in most countries. Each pod is BPA-free and is perfectly safe to use for human consumption.
Can you reuse the Click & Grow plant pods?
Reusing unsprouted pods
It is entirely possible to reuse Click & Grow seed pods if the seeds, for one reason or another, never germinated. Keep in mind however that the Smart Soil will be wet, even if the seeds never sprouted. While they can be used again it is best to dry them out thoroughly to reduce the risk of algae or mould forming. Once dry, try to remove any unsprouted seeds before adding in your seed of choice and reinserting them into the seed pod holder.
Reusing spent pods within the Click & Grow system
I don’t recommend trying to reuse Smart Soil in which a plant has already grown. Smart Soil is great for short-term use. It does tend to get mouldy and manky over time. It’s also very difficult to remove the roots and less left by the previous plant.
Reusing spent pods as regular potting soil
It is entirely possible to reuse spent Smart Soil as regular potting soil for other containers. Just be sure to use a clean pot to reduce contagion, and clean the Smart Soil off as best you can, being careful to remove as much of the previous plant’s root system. Only use parts of the Smart Soil that the previous plant hasn’t taken over. Break up the Smart Soil into small pieces and add to another container ready for a new plant.
What other soil alternatives will work with a Click & Grow?
Technically, you can use a Click & Grow Smart Garden without any soil at all. But, you’ll still need some kind of growing medium.
Smart Soil is still the best-growing medium for your young plants. However, by taking advantage of Click & Grow’s lights and wick-hydroponics it is possible to other substrates for the purposes of germination. Choosing the right growing medium is important. Keep in mind that other growing mediums will not necessarily contain the nutrients and minerals needed for plants to reach maturity.
1. Rock wool
Rock wool is a rock-based mineral fibre made from basalt and recycled slag. Rock wool absorbs water, making it great to use in your Click & Grow for germination purposes.
2. Coco Coir (Coconut)
Coco Coir is a fibre made from the outer husk of coconuts. It has great drainage and water retention making it another good option for germinating plants in a Click & Grow.
Growstone is a substrate for growing plants that have become quite popular as a soil-less medium in recent years. It has great wicking ability and can work with seeds. Moisten the stones thoroughly before use.
Perlite is a great growing medium for hydroponics and can support germination. Sow seeds on top of moist perlite and settle them into gaps.
It is technically possible to germinate and grow plants using regular soil, but the Click & Grow Smart Soil is the best-growing medium for optimal growth. Smart Soil is purpose-made for growing young plants and contains many of the properties they prefer. It contains a tailored blend of nutrients and minerals for each seed that is hard to beat by using any old soil from the garden, or even compost.
If you’re just starting out in hydroponics or vertical gardening and would like to learn more, please check out my ultimate overview.