My zero effort garden was already producing seedlings in less than a week.

I got my first spring 2020 vegetable seed catalog in the mail the other day. My reaction? Decidedly lukewarm. Unlike so many of my friends and colleagues, the idea of pouring over the seed selections, narrowing down the choices, ordering seeds and then awaiting their arrival with all the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve? So not me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have unending admiration and respect for anyone who takes the time to prepare soil, plant seeds and carefully tend what they have sown to harvest. Again, not me. As I have often said, there are two kinds of people, those who garden and those who cheerfully purchase the fruits — and vegetables — of their labors. I am firmly in the latter camp.

That is, until I recently stumbled across a gizmo called the “Click and Grow Indoor Garden,” a product that promises to “grow anything with zero effort.”

They had me at “zero effort.”

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the outdoors or working outdoors. Because I totally do. I love puttering around Rusty Metal Farm and working on any projects involving forestry stewardship or wildlife management.

But gardening? It’s more than simply not enjoying it. I have an honest to goodness hostile reaction to it. For years, I battled against my aversion until I finally gave up six or so years ago and became a steady customer at local farmers markets.

But as much as I dislike gardening, I do love technology. And technology that purports to grow fresh produce in the comfort of my own home with zero effort on my part? Just take my money.

So I ordered the “Smart Garden Click and Grow” kit. The concept is pretty nifty. It’s a single unit combining a watering system, grow lights and individual seed pods. The idea behind it, according to the website, came from the popularity of those coffee machines that use single serving pods filled with coffee to brew one cup at a time for the truly lazy coffee aficionados.

Click and Grow, I figured would be perfect for a truly lazy gardener such as myself.

The starter kit came with the water-grow light unit and nine seed pods — three each of basil, lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

There was some assembly required — so much for zero effort — but I was amazed at how quickly the contraption came together by following the fairly clear pictorial instructions.

Once assembled, all I had to do was open each plant capsule containing a pre-seeded pod and place a pod into one of the supplied planters. Each planter is then clicked into place over the water basin and below a row of lights.

All that was left to do was clear a space for it on my kitchen counter, plug it in, add water and wait for the harvest.

After an hour or so of nothing sprouting, I got tired of checking on the progress every five minutes. But wow, is it ever high tech looking. Remember those science projects we did as kids planting beans in old egg cartons?

Well, the Smart Garden looks like that experiment if it was run on the spaceship Discovery One in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, I keep waiting for a HAL-like robotic voice to tell me “I am completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.”

Turns out, I don’t need HAL or any other robots to tell me things are operational. After three days under those grow lights, the first tiny sprouts of lettuce appeared. The next day, the basil had sprouted — and, as promised, with zero effort on my part.

Could it be? Had I finally stumbled upon my holy grail of horticulture? The ability to grow my very own veggies without setting foot in a garden? It just all seems too good to be true. But as I write, things seem to be growing over on my counter, and if all goes according to plan, I should have my first harvest in a few weeks. I suspect that will take some effort on my part.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to pass along the seed catalogs that arrive in my mailbox to the real, dedicated gardeners whom I know will appreciate them.

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.