After years of waiting and looking at the AeroGarden I finally broke down and bought one awhile ago. Seriously I have wanted one of these things for a while, the idea of a counter top, contained, easy to use garden system has great appeal to someone in the middle of an Alaskan winter. However, when they first came out they were huge, expensive, and we were unsure about such a new product. (I believe they came out around 2007) They have since been out awhile now and come in sizes from 3 pods up to 9 pods. While we’re no longer in Alaska, when the opportunity came around I finally bought a 6-pod unit, with one of the mixed herb seed kits.
The unit was shipped to me and was pretty easy to put together. You basically plop in the seed pods, add water and nutrients, plug it in, set the light timer for the types of plants your growing and away you go! I was surprised to find the light was made up of LED lights and was a little skeptical at first of how these things would grow. My seed kit came with parsley, cilantro, dill, Italian basil, Genovese basil, and mint. It came with six little domes that it suggested you put on each pod until the seeds have sprouted. I assembled and started the unit March 2.
After starting everything I was waiting with baited breath to see how things would go. The dill was the first to sprout (March 9) and for awhile I was worried some of the others wouldn’t sprout at all. It looked like some of the seeds had a type of mold or fuzzy stuff growing on them so I figured those were a bust. However, eventually everything did sprout and started to grow.
The set up and functions are nice. The light is on an automatic timer based on whether you chose you Herb, Vegetables, or 24 hours. I have it on Herb, which I think stays on for 16 hours. Every two weeks or when the system senses the water level is low, the Low Water light flashes to let you know to refill it. At those times I also add the nutrients that it came with. When I first started it was every two weeks, now that everything is full grown I’ve been adding water once a week. By March 24 everything had sprouted and was growing well.
The light raises and lowers with the height of what you’re growing, which is nice feature. Overall I think this is a neat option for someone wanting something simple or the occasional herb or flower. They do advertise that you can grow small cherry tomatoes but I have a hard time finding that useful compared to growing a full size tomato plant. Compared to another, larger hydroponic system I have this unit is ‘cute’. But I do mean that. It’s sitting on the kitchen counter and I think I’m going to get another one for work as well. It’s simple, easy to use, and I think most productive when growing a few of your favorite herbs or some simple flowers to enjoy. AeroGarden has multiple seed kits you can chose from or you can build your own seed kit. They also apparently have an empty pod that you can add your own seeds into. I plan on getting one of these and trying that. That would definitely open up the choices of what to grow. While this is never going to replace a full blown garden or produce a ton of veggie produce, it can provide a quick herb clipping for dinner or a nice way to enjoy a little gardening in an area where you would normally not be able to. I plan on dedicating this one to just growing herbs for tea, since I drink a lot of tea. I think that would be fun and refreshing. (Think lemon balm, mint, chamomile, etc.)
By April 11, 42 days after starting the unit, I had raised the lights to their highest setting and everything was in full growth. We have harvested some of the basil, which was yummy, and the dill is actually 3″ over the top of the lights and trying to take over. Things look like they’re doing well and we’re trying to come up with all ways you can use dill. All in all, I think the technology and the price point are finally getting there and this unit was a nice investment. As long as you keep in mind the realities of growing in this small area and that it is not a replacement for a full hydroponic or garden system, I think you will be pleased as well.