How Does The Aerogarden Work?

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Why is there this pertaining myth that it’s easy to grow herbs on the windowsill??

Tis a fallacy!

I have an article on how to do that here, and it has info on growing those cheap supermarket herbs rather than just letting them die. But if you’re busy, lazy, or negligent for some other reason but you love fresh herbs, throw your money at an Aerogarden.

Is an Aerogarden worth the money?

Aerogardens aren’t cheap (I got my Harvest for £150ish) but they are so, so worth it. Read this for a full breakdown of why I think they’re worth the money.

If you want to grow, and are willing to put in a bit of effort (max 10 minutes a week, less if you’re happy to have it grow all over your kitchen counter)

How does the Aerogarden work?

An Aerogarden is an all-in-one unit that designed to grow plants hydroponically (in water, rather than soil). All you have to do is add water and fertiliser (each of these has a light that flashes/goes red when you need to add them) when it tells you and…that’s it.

Apart from a bit of light pruning (which I never needed to do because I used my herbs)…that’s it!

Lights

Light is one of the main reasons that your traditionally grown herbs won’t grow.

There simply isn’t enough light inside our homes to grow herbs well.

Obviously, this is a gross generalisation.

There are probably many people growing herbs on the windowsill wondering what the hell I’m on about BUT for those of us in the darker countries – most of northern Europe, the top part of the US, Canada…a lot of the time it’s too dark.

Even in summer.

The Aerogarden uses LED lights that are specifically designed to help vegetables grow. Professional indoor veg growers do fancy things like cycle through light spectrums and exposure time etc. but you don’t need to that.

The Aerogarden works on a timer, 15 hours on/9 hours off, all done automatically. You don’t need to do anything.

However, due to the position of mine and my desire to NOT blind my neighbours at 9pm, I turn mine on manually – it’s just a button on the front.

The light is VERY bright. Don’t look at it. You’d have to try really hard to look at it, so before you try, I’m just telling you to, you know, not.

Pump

If you’ve read my article on propagating house plants, you’ll know how important it is that plants have oxygen to their roots.

It’s the key to the seemingly conflicting notion that you can kill plants by overwatering them but then grow them entirely in water.

Basically, as long as they have ample oxygen (and nutrients), plants don’t care whether they’re in soil or water.

The pump keeps the water oxygenated. I have no idea how it works, tbh, but it does sometimes dribble water through the grow deck, so I assume that has something to do with it.

All that matters is that you don’t ever need to empty out all the water at once and change it, except when it comes to cleaning your Aerogarden between harvests. You can just add more when it tells you to.

Pods

You don’t need to worry about planting seeds (unless you get a Grow Anything kit) – they come in little pods with the Aerogarden. You just put the plastic pod in the hole with a little cover over the top (the cover is to help keep the humidity high and increase the chance of germination), add your water, turn it on and you’re ready to go.

It takes a grand total of about 10 minutes to set up. If you’ve ever tried to start a traditional vegetable garden, it takes, er, longer than that.

The pods are filled with a substrate (possibly coir) but you could use a sponge if you’re thinking of DIYing an Aerogarden. The idea is that the substrate can absorb water and once the seeds start to produce roots, they can grow through the substrate and eventually reach the water.

Substrate

As I say, you don’t need to use Aerogarden pods. If, for example, you’re on your second harvest and you can’t get any more pods (Aerogarden are reducing their presence in Europe, because they hate me) you can reuse the plastic pod holders (and don’t forget to keep the little plastic covers) and use…something else. You can buy those little cone coir things, or use something like a dense sponge.

As for using water instead of soil, you can do that outside of an Aerogarden. With most house plants. As long as you add nutrients and ensure there’s enough oxygen, plants grow extremely well in water.

The Aerogarden technically uses Aeroponics (the roots form in the air until they drop down into the water).

Ooooh, that’s why the pump drips water onto the pods from the grow deck – to give them nutrients. How did I not know that?

Fertiliser

The Aerogarden comes with a bottle of fertiliser that should last the lifetime of your plants (6 months to a year). You can rebuy it separately from Aerogarden, or use a different fertiliser. I just use the General Hydroponics FLora series because, er, that’s what I have.

The fertiliser button will go red (it’s usually green) when it’s time to fertilise. I think it’s every two weeks, but don’t quote me on that.

You can measure the fertiliser into the lid of the bottle, which is great for lazy people like me.

If you’re using the Flora series you’ll need to work out how much you need and measure it all in individually because you can’t premix them.

Is it annoying? yes.

Does it make me feel like a scientist and therefore I kind of enjoy it? Also yes.

Erm, unlike the water, if you just press the fertiliser button it’ll turn green again, so if you cba to add nutrients, don’t. This is obvs not great for your plants (though if you add them the next day, I’m sure they’ll be totally fine), but if you’re using your Aerogarden for propagating house plants, it’s good to know.

I hope that was helpful! Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

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