So given that we are all friends here, let’s not judge. I will be the first to admit that I slacked when it came to the cleaning my Aerogarden farm plus. But that is behind me and now I adhere to a strict cleaning and maintenance schedule to make sure it stays in tip top shape. I will warn you now this isn’t a short post but there are loads of pictures to help you through the process.
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So here it is…what a mess! We’ve got sludge, sediment, algae, leaves and even a cherry tomato or two. Give me a minute to hang my head in shame. Ok, I’m done now. So let’s focus on cleaning up this mess. That way it can be planted with some new veggies, which is perfect as it’s winter and I can’t currently grow outside.
I should point out that you should clean your aerogarden between each planting. Obviously I did not, but now I have turned over a new leaf. If you’re new to the whole world of Aerogardens you may want to check out my post Aerogarden tips for beginners.
So first things first. Let’s start by unplugging the water level and the pump. Then you can empty the bowl, making sure not to get any goopy water on yourself.
Let’s get rid of that dirty water. With that done there will probably still be quite a bit of sediment or algae remaining. It’s time to grab a sponge and roll up your sleeves and give that grow bowl a good scrub. Don’t use any soap, just some warm water and elbow grease.
You don’t want to use anything that will scratch the surface of the bowl. Once the bowl is visually clean it is time to tackle the pump. I had some roots make their way into the pump which made cleaning it a longer process.
You’re going to need a screwdriver to get into the pump to clean it. I love my picquic as it works for just about any type screw.
Once the screws are out you can take the pump out of the housing. Then you will get a look at how dirty it is. As mine had roots in it the cleaning process was a little more in-depth. If you are lucky enough to have avoided the whole root conundrum then rinsing it should be sufficient. I as I mentioned was not so lucky. I will detail the root cleaning process in case your pump is so afflicted.
Yup…its that bad. Sigh. I grabbed some toothpicks and some tweezers and set to work. It took a while, these roots were all in the pump so they had to be carefully removed.
After about half an hour of tedious and careful work the roots were gone. There is something really satisfying with a job well done. Look at my bounty!
With the roots dealt it was time to clean the spout of the pump. For this I grabbed a pipe cleaner and gave it a quick clean to make sure that it had no residue inside.
With the pump and the bowl clean you can put them back into the housing and put the cover and screws back. Then it is time to shift our focus to the top cover. Considering the unfortunate issue I had with algae in my aerogarden it was a bit of a disaster. So to begin I gave it a once over top and bottom with the sponge to get off any surface dirt.
With all the surface muck gone, you will need to CAREFULLY separate the two sides. This is not something I would do more than once a year as you don’t want to risk breaking the tabs that keep the two sides together. Make sure you don’t miss that pesky little one in the middle or you’ll be struggling more than necessary.
Once you have the two sides separated you will need to grab another pipe cleaner or two and some q-tips. Now it’s time to get down to the really tedious cleaning.
Using the pipe cleaner and q-tips clean all the nooks and crannies of both sides. It’s tedious but worth it. At this point you may think we’re done but I assure you we are not. We still need t sterilize the bowl. You have two choices. You can choose to use either vinegar or bleach. If you choose bleach then the process will be longer. I will go through both methods and then you can choose whichever you prefer. Before you start with the sterilization process then reconnect the two pieces of the top.
Cleaning with Vinegar
If you are sterilizing using vinegar then the ratio is 1:1 for water and vinegar. All the farm models hold about 30 cups of water. So if you choose vinegar you are a going to need a whopping 15 cups of vinegar and 15 cups of warm water. Using the vinegar is a much more natural way to remove bacteria without harsh chemicals such as bleach.
You will need to fill up both sides of the aerogarden and then reconnect the pump and let it run for 30 minutes to make sure that it has time to work its magic. After the time is up, empty the grow bowls and refill with clean water. Leave it to run for 5 more minutes and then empty one final time.
Cleaning with Bleach
If you have chosen to use bleach to sterilize then you will need about 1/4 cup of bleach per 10 cups of water. As I mentioned, all the farm models hold about 30 cups of water. So if you have chosen to go the bleach route then fill the bowl with warm water and add in 3/4 cup of bleach.
Put the top back on and then reconnect the pump and let the solution run for 30 minutes. After the time is up then carefully disconnect the pump again and pour out the water. Refill with clean water, reconnect the pump and let it run for 5 minutes. Then once again disconnect the pump, pour out the water.
Don’t reconnect anything. Set the pieces on their side and leave them to fully dry for 48 hours.
Not that it is all clean, make sure the pump and water level are reconnected.
You can use anything to fill up the grow bowls but I do love the no-spill watering jug.
Turn it back on and make sure that the pump is running well and then put the top on.
Now with it all clean it is time to get some new grow sponges, nutrients, sponge grow baskets and your favourite seeds (I really like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and get your indoor garden back up and running! If you’re not sure what to grow in your Aerogarden then check out my post on 14 Vegetables you can grow in an Aerogarden and 10 you can’t.
I had noticed that plants at the back of my aerogarden didn’t seem to flourish as much as those at the front. I suspected that it may not be on a flat enough surface so I grabbed my handy level to check it out. Talk about unlevelled! That air bubble was as far to the left as it could be.
Luckily this was remedied easy enough with the addition of some cardboard under the front legs of the Aerogarden. I noticed right away that there was better water flow to the back pods so hopefully this makes a difference moving forward.
I have planted the following and its doing quite well!
- Slo-bolt cilantro
- Orange spice jalapeno pepper
- Lemon spice jalapeno pepper
- Peron tomato
- Cream sausage tomato
- Butter king lettuce
- Rouge d’hiver lettuce
- Black seeded simpson lettuce
There is something amazing about growing food year-round in the basement! It is also a great way to start your plants as long as you make sure to harden off your seedlings before moving them to the garden. What is your favourite thing to grow in your aerogarden? What model(s) do you have? Or are you just curious about growing hydroponically?