Akarina recently sent me the Akarina 01 starter kit to review. Due to plants being annoyingly slow to grow, it will likely be weeks before I can do a full review, but I thought it would be worth posting about this now as this would make a good Christmas present for some people.
Neither me nor my partner has green fingers, I am too lazy to bother attempting to grow things, and my partner kills everything she tries. We have just about managed to keep a basil plant alive for a few months, but in the past couple of weeks, it started to look like it has died.
Therefore the Akarina 01 sounded appealing to me, with the hope that it would take all the effort out of growing things.
The Akarina 01 is sold directly from Akarina for £169.99, and they also sell a variety of smaller models in different shapes, all designed to look like light table lamps.
Design & Set-Up
The product photos make this look slightly nicer than it is. It is an all-plastic design that is quite lightweight.
While the plastic build does make it feel a little cheap, it is also functional, the trays all contain water, so having a different construction material probably wouldn’t work very well.
The lamp and its main tray are fully assembled, though it is possible to remove the lamp and use this independently.
You then have three containers that hold your nutrient-rich water, and each container has three culture trays, each with four holes for your seeds, so you can grow 12 separate plants.
The lamp itself has a touch-sensitive top that you can tap to turn on the LEDs.
The kit has everything you need to get going, as well as the lamp and its components you have:
- 30x rooting sponges
- 1 x 0.5g pack of Gourmet Looseleaf Salad Seeds
- 100ml Bottle of Fertiliser
I personally find lettuce the most boring of all veg, so it would have been good to have 3 different packs of seeds. In the promotional material, it shows tomatoes growing, which would have been a good inclusion.
Planting / Germinating the Seeds
It is quite simple to use the Akarina, which is the main appeal.
All you need to do is:
- Mix water and the liquid fertilizer based on the fertilizer instructions (5ml in 1litre)
- Fill up each tray, the culture trays has a little water indicator hole, and you need to fill it up to the line
- Set a square sponge into each hole and plant the seeds
- Cover the tray with the tray cover and way approximately 2-5 days for the seeds to sprout
- Once sprouted, remove the tray cover and turn on the LED light.
- Fill up the fertilizer tray as and when needed
- The plants should be ready to harvest in 40 days (for the leaf lettuce)
One problem I have is that plants need a relatively warm environment to grow, and my house is rarely warm, partly due to me being tight-fisted but also an old house with poor insulation. So I have low expectations that my lettuce will be ready in 40 days.
As I am not the biggest fan of lettuce, I have also planted tomato and chilli seeds.
3-Week Growth Update
It turns out this lamp is more fun than I expected. Both the tomato plants and lettuce have grown much faster than I thought possible. Sadly my peppers are only just past sprouting.
Price and Alternative Options
The Akarina 01 is priced at £169.99, and it is the largest model they do. They have the Smaller Akarina 14, which you can buy in a double pack for £149.99 or the Akarina 15, which is just £74.99.
There are quite a lot of competing options with many different brands on Amazon.
Click and Grow appear to offer something quite similar. All of them are made out of plastic, and I’d say they don’t look quite as aesthetic as the Akarina 01. The Pro model is app-controlled, providing some advantages, but it is out of stock and likely a lot more expensive.
Other companies such as Seed Panty have similar looking designs to the Click and Grow. They all look reasonably nice in the photos, but they don’t look like they fit in naturally with home décor quite as well as the Akarina.
Many of the other competing options are more designed around practicality, and they all look a bit ugly.
The Akarina 01 appears to be an excellent option for anyone wanting a user-friendly way of getting into growing their own vegetables. In comparison to most other competing products, this has been designed to look like an attractive lamp that fits in with your home décor.
Overall, I like this and I think this would make an excellent Christmas gift, both for younger people and adults alike.