Aerogarden Tips for Beginners

So you are either thinking about getting yourself an Aerogarden or maybe you picked up one of these babies and now you’re wondering what you have gotten yourself into. Either way, hopefully, you will find this post helpful. I know I absolutely love my Aerogarden and if it stopped working tomorrow I would buy another one.

grow hydroponically!

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Growing hydroponically opens up a whole new world of growing vegetables, especially if you live somewhere with a shorter growing season. If you cook, then you will quickly recoup the cost fo the Aerogarden in just avoiding having to buy fresh herbs from the grocery store!

Decide what you want to grow

So what do you want to grow? If you’re not sure then you should check out my post on 14 vegetables you can grow in an Aerogarden and 10 you can’t. Personally, I tend to grow tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and herbs. These make up the staples in my basement garden, that I have year-round, but sometimes I like to throw in a curveball and do things like trying celery or okra.

Decide on the type

Once you have an idea of what you want to grow it will help to guide you in terms of what type of Aerogarden you will need. I have separated the Aerogarden type and model into two separate choices. Why? Well, there are two different groupings and which you will want to consider will depend on what you are trying to achieve. The main choice you have to make here is if you want/need a countertop or floor model. Personally, I have had both and I am firmly on Team Floor model. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Countertop models

These are the space savers, but how much so will depend on how many pods you want. Pods = ability to grow things (kinda…more on that later). The countertop models range from 2-9 pods, come in wifi models and non-wifi models and have different growth heights. So if you don’t have a lot of space or just want to grow a few things on your kitchen counter then these are probably for you.

Aerogarden Harvest

Floor models

These are the big boys, they all have 24 pods, the difference is in the grow height. This is what I use to grow food year-round in what I lovingly call my basement garden. I always have tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs growing at all times. In the ramp-up to the new growing season, I always sacrifice one side of the Farm to start all my seedlings. In the space that normally would house 12 pods, I can start up to 80 seedlings! All I needed was to pick up the Aerogarden Farm seedling starter.

Seedlings in Aerogarden

One thing to consider is these guys are not sitting on your kitchen counter…unless you have some crazy ass massive kitchen. They are going to take up 36″ x 14″ of floor space, so they are BIG. I have mine set up downstairs in my laundry room, in the basement garden. So before you order one of these make sure you know where you are going to keep it.

Decide on the model

Countertop models

The Herbie is the smallest and has 2 grow pods, has a growing height of 6″ and it is geared towards kids. Next in the lineup is the Sprout which has 3 grow pods and a 10″ growing height. Next on the list is the Harvest which has 6 grow pods and a growing height of 12″. The last one is the biggest which is the Bounty which features 9 grow pods and a growth height of 24″. The Bounty also has a grow bowl which can be used to grow strawberries in your Aerogarden.

I had an Aerogarden Harvest, I got it at the same time I got my Aerogarden Farm Plus. The idea was to have the Harvest upstairs on the kitchen counter and the Farm Plus down in the basement. As time went on I found that the Harvest was taking up more space on my counter than I wanted (I only have a small kitchen). Honestly, for me, the Farm Plus is more than big enough to grow a few herbs, a tomato, a pepper plant, and some lettuce. So I cleaned up the Harvest model and passed it on to my mum so she can grow some stuff as well.

Floor models

There are three versions are all from the Aerogarden Farm Series. The smallest is the Farm which has a growth height of 12″, next is the Farm Plus (this is the one I have) which has a growth height of 24″ and finally we have the Farm XL which has a growth height of 36″.

All of the models are stackable, wifi compatible, have their own app and can apparently connect to Amazon echo!

Aerogarden Farm Plus

How quickly do the plants grow?

One of the great things is how much quicker plants can grow in the Aerogarden vs in soil. On the Aerogarden website, they claim that plants can grow 5 times faster than in soil. The scientist in me feels that I should conduct my own study to see if this is true (I probably will). To be honest, I haven’t kept tabs on this, but the plants do seem to sprout quite quickly and they do grow very well. Honestly, the peppers I grow in my Aerogarden Farm Plus grow better and bigger than anything I have ever grown outside.

Don’t use all the holes!

I really can’t emphasize this enough as I fell into this pitfall early on. I mean if there are 24 holes then why wouldn’t you plant 24 plants? Why wouldn’t I use them all? The first time I did, I used them all and oh my word, what a mess! It was a disaster! When you first plant the wee seeds in the grow sponges (I order a LOT of these) and put their little grow domes on top it all looks so perfect and organized. And then they GROW!!! Mayhem and general disorder will ensue and you will wonder what you did wrong. So hopefully I can save you the pain and try and talk you into leaving some of the pods free.

Crowded Aerogarden
Waaaay too much going on here!

Keep it clean

As with anything it is going to work best when it is clean. Give it a wipe down once a week or if you have any spills of plant food. A full cleaning should happen before you plant new seedlings to make sure they have an optimal growing environment. If you want more detailed information you can check out my post on How to clean an Aerogarden.

What do the blinking lights mean?

There are two main lights on the smaller models. One indicates when it is time to fill up the water reservoir and it has a helpful (blue) water drop on it that glows red and blinks when you need to add water. The second lets you know when it’s time to feed your plants and it has a (green) leaf on it and glows and blinks red when you need to add plant food. The water one will go off more as the plants grow and the roots get bigger, so you will need to pay attention to this. The food light goes off every 14 days.

Help! There is white stuff growing in my pods!

Ok so you just got your first Aerogarden and you planted your pods and then now there is white fuzzy stuff growing on them!!! Ok, stay calm it’s ok, it’s just mycelium. So what the heck is mycelium? Well, it is a fungus-like bacterial colony and they are beneficial for your plants. They can actually form a symbiotic relationship with your plant roots, helping them with their uptake of water and nutrients.

How high should the lights be?

Ideally, you want to keep the lights about 4-6″ above the top of the plants. This is easy at the beginning and gets harder as the plants grow at different rates. I always try to keep the lights at about 4-6″ above the tallest plants. Why is this important? Well, if the leaves get too close to the lights they will start to burn.

Do you have to use the pre-seeded pods?

Nope! Just grab yourself one of the grow anything kits and you can use your own seeds. I like to use heirloom seeds (you can find out why here). In case you are wondering what you can actually grow in an Aerogarden check out my post on 14 Vegetables you can grow in an Aerogarden (and 10 you can’t). Hopefully, it will help give you some ideas! I should also point out that you can grow flowers in an Aerogarden too!

What kind of water should I use?

Most of the time you can just use tap water, but if you are concerned or have hard water then you can definitely use distilled or purified water. I have only ever used tap water in mine and I haven’t had any issues. You shouldn’t, however, use well water or softened water in your Aerogarden. Well water shouldn’t be used because this type of water can have too many dissolved solids in it which isn’t going to be good for your pump. In the case of the softened water it can have high levels of sodium which is definitely not good for your plants.

Don’t forget to prune!

Just because your plants are on your counter does not mean that they don’t need the same pruning attention they would need outside. Honestly, it’s probably more important because of the confined space they are growing in! So be sure to get a good set of pruners, I love these pruners, but any good quality ones will work.

So what Aerogarden model are you going to get? Are you a countertop grower or are you going big (like me) and want to grow food all year round?

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  • Vanessa - Existence as I Know it
    March 4, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    I’m planning to start an orchard. This seems like a good way to start indoors! Thank you for sharing!

  • Gofa
    March 4, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Great Post!
    I have been researching a lot about growing/ regrowing food. This was a great insight

  • Jen
    May 15, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Great post, Kiri! I have an AeroGarden Harvest (Elite model) but I’m intending to get one or two bigger ones. This COVID pandemic has me seriously looking at the Farm models. I live in an area with a shortish grow season (plus too many deer) and so growing indoors is very practical for me.

    So far I tried growing the herb kit that came with my 6-pod Harvest, but that did not work out so great because I didn’t do the research beforehand to get the best results. I didn’t know how (and when) to prune properly, so my Thai basil took over and killed everything else. Grrr.

    Also, the floors in my house are not what anyone would call level, so that could explain why some plants didn’t do as well as others. I’m going to try to shim the garden and see if that helps, thanks for the suggestion.

    I’m now ready to try again…and your advice about spacing has me thinking I should only use 4 of the 6 pods in my current countertop Harvest model. I want to grow lettuce (trying to go for the most practical option here) so it might get too crazy if I plant all 6 pods.

    Looking forward to more AeroGarden-related posts from you! Happy growing!

  • Donna Ellis
    May 22, 2021 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for the awesome post…… I have just started with 2 aero gardens from Amazon….. the harvest and the elite 360 and the 2questions I have when the roots are getting extra long can you trim them a little bit with sharp scissors and second my lettuce is growing super well except on one I have a little black near the base of the lettuce….is this a problem?I will definitely follow you…..

    • Kir
      June 1, 2021 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Donna,

      That’s awesome you have started growing hydroponically! I love how rewarding it is to growing your own food. You can trim the roots, I am just working on a blog post and video that will go into the details of how to do it as well as some pros and cons. Sorry for the delay in my answer, how is the lettuce doing?


  • Ian Spencer Mutchnick
    December 2, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Hi – how much work is this kind of thing? Thanks,

    • Kir
      December 4, 2021 at 1:20 am

      Hi Ian,

      It kind of depends. I have neglected mine in the past (for far too long) but I still grew quite a bit of food. If you spend more time tending to them you can definitely grow more. For me it is 100% worth it to be growing your own food. I grow a lot outside when the weather is milder but in the winter I continue to grow quite a bit of food indoors hydroponically. I love picking ripe tomatoes int he middle of winter rather than buying ones from the store that were picked unripe and rippened along their journey through artificial means. 🙂 Hope that helps.


  • Dianna
    February 12, 2022 at 10:23 am

    I bought a pre-owned Aerogarden that came with some pods. The first set is currently germinating — about 4 days in. I really want to start my spring garden, so I ordered the seed starting kit. Fingers crossed!

    November 18, 2022 at 1:58 am

    I am new to this but just want to grow Cherry tomatoes, Lettuce Basil and Parsley
    What model should I get to fit these 3 things to grow all at once???

    • Kir
      December 7, 2022 at 2:37 am

      Hi Laurie,

      Sorry for the late response.I would suggest one of the larger models. I never recommend that people plant all the holes as it leads to the plants getting overcrowded (just make sure to cover any unused pods/holes). The cherry tomatoes can get quite large so pruning will be key if you want to grow them in a system with other plants. I would suggest at least a Bounty which has 9 pods or a farm 12XL which would be ideal and give you mode height to grow tomatoes. But there is a big price point between the two. You could also try a dwarf variety of tomato that won’t get as unruly! I like the orange hat tomato from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. Hope that helps!


  • Jen
    December 7, 2022 at 12:18 am

    How often do you clean the unit during the growing stage? I read on another post to lift all the plants out and empty and clean the basin after 4 weeks – do you do this (and if so, how when your plants are big) or just keep the same water for months?

    • Kir
      December 7, 2022 at 2:34 am

      Hi Jen,

      Honestly I don’t, I just top up my water every time it gets low or I add nutrients. I only clean it out if I am doing a deep clean OR if something seems to be off in the system. But this is a great I did for a blog post/YouTube video so thank you! I will fire up my two AeroGarden Sprouts planted at the same time and see if it makes a difference! I love a good experiment.


  • Connor
    February 6, 2023 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Kiri, I’ve had my aerogarden for years. One thing I’ve always wondered, when starting seeds, should the Domes click and seal around the top of the pod? Or is it ok to just have them rest on top? Sometimes they (the domes) click into place but most times they don’t. If they should, is there a trick to it? Thanks for any guidance.

    • Kir
      February 7, 2023 at 1:35 am

      Hi Connor,

      I have found that they fit snugly with the old iron on green tops. With the new thinner stickers they just sit there and are looser. As long as they are on top you should be good. They are just there to increase the humidity and aid in germination. Just make sure to take them off before the leaves touch.

      Hope that helps

  • Susan Crumpler
    December 16, 2023 at 11:22 pm

    I have an older Bounty Basic 9-hole Aerogarden model. The controls are not the same as on the newer ones. It has been set on lettuce and now I want to grow herbs. How do I change the setting? The times for the lights to be on are not the same.


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