My wonderful fiance and his extremely thoughtful family made me very happy this Christmas with gifts of indoor growing equipment. I got an Aerogarden, a seed starter kit with a fluorescent grow light, and 3 LED grow lights. I’m a lucky girl!
In the dark, depressing days of January, I got started with the Aerogarden. No, it has nothing to do with air plants. Yes, it’s a hydroponic system for growing all sorts of plants. No, it’s not exactly organic because the plant food is derived from mineral salts. And yes, it’s fun, easy, and I have been more than pleased with my constant supply of fresh herbs! Mine came with a gourmet herb seed pod kit which included dill, parsley, mint, thyme, and two types of basil. This snapshot is from about a month after starting.
The dill grew and continues to grow extremely fast. The mint and basil were also pretty quick to get big and full. The parsley and thyme are a little slower but still provide enough to use in my cooking from time to time. I can be pretty aggressive with harvesting and they all flourish. Pruning is the fun part, and I can always just dry the trimmings if I’m not going to use them immediately. It’s been over three months now and they’re still going strong.
The whole thing takes up less than a square foot. It’s got adjustable LED lights with a built-in timer, an automatic water pump, and it even lets me know when to add the liquid nutrients. Pretty fool proof – just have to feed every couple of weeks and remember to top it off with fresh water every day. I have been using distilled water because I know that our well water will calcify in the reservoir and clog up the filter (like it does on our humidifier). I’m tempted to try a different liquid nutrient that came with some cow pots I found at Costco, but I haven’t run out of the Aerogarden liquid plant food yet. I just have to find out if it’s good for hydroponics. Edit: Messina customer service informed me that Seedlingers Plant Fertelixir can be used with hdyroponics.
Our last Spring frost date is June 6 here, so the excitement of the Aerogarden definitely helped hold me over until it was time to start seeds. Meanwhile, I decided to do a complete overhaul of our basement so I would have a nice place to set up my grow lights. A few coats of paint made a huge difference. I ordered shelves from Ikea to house the lighting fixtures. Now it is my new happy place! More to come on my seed starting operation. With a growing season of only 95 days, starting indoors is crucial.