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Hydroponics

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.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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.

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 ones, 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?

2 Comments

  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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

    Reply

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