Pros: Fool-proof results see my photos at the end of this review
Cons: My dill stopped growing after my first harvest, but it could have been my fault since the basil and parsley are over-the-top happy.
My “green thumb” leaves a lot to be desired. Since early childhood, my efforts to make things grow were met with rotting roots, brown leaves, or nothing at all. My daughter got me a “lucky bamboo tree” nearly ten years ago. It lost one of its three trunks about four years ago and is only now starting to look less like an ICU patient. The orchid plant she bought me about 18 months ago now sports dead blooms and one new leaf (the new leaf is courtesy of an ice cube watering trick). The bright blue hydrangea she bought me this Mother’s Day shriveled within a couple of days. Up until now, the only exception to the death toll has been my cactus plants grown from seeds.
This year my son bought me an Aerogarden hydroponic garden by Miracle Gro for Mother’s Day. The kit includes three seed pods, a three-ounce bottle of Miracle Gro plant food, and the contraption (for lack of a better word). When I thanked him for the gift, I asked him if this was to encourage me to grow medicinal pot. His response was “yeah, sure.” This is his “Mom thinks she’s funny” reply, the point of which is to pretend he didn’t know I was joking. That’s okay. My sense of humor never impressed my husband and kids.
Set up was fairly easy. I picked a logical place for the garden – the raised counter that surrounds my sink and separates the kitchen from the living room. I cleared off my decorative things, placed the Aerogarden on the counter, filled the chamber with water, poked the seed pods into the three cradling holes, plugged it in, and waited. Actually, I didn’t really wait so much as left town. The day I set up the Aerogarden, was the day before we went to Las Vegas for the State Democratic Convention. I had no idea if the water chamber would stay filled enough while we were gone. I just took it on faith.
I made a couple of mistakes when I set things up. My first mistake was not noticing that the plant food should have been added to the water when I first filled the chamber. The second one was thinking that something was wrong with the LED grow light or the electrical outlet I used. When I read that the light goes on and off, I thought the instructions referenced the “add plant food” light, which lights up when it’s time to feed your plants and has to be reset to light up again in two weeks. After seeing the LED grow light go out twice, I called the service center. An incredibly sweet woman explained that the LED grow light simulate night and day by being on for 16 hours and off for 8. Once she explained it, I realized the instructions said the exact same thing. Reading further, I discovered that the light can be set to match one’s day and night. I prefer letting it be on at night and off during the day. In addition to facilitating photosynthesis, it serves as a nightlight.
Does it grow plants? Absolutely! When the seed pods are first inserted, they need to be covered with a clear plastic dome to create a little greenhouse effect. Since my son asked me what seeds came with the Aerogarden, it’s apparent that the company encloses random boxes of seed pods that should be compatible with each other. My Aerogarden came with basil, parsley, and dill. I was overwhelmed when we returned from Las Vegas four days after starting the Aerogarden and found seedlings waiting for us! The dill came in first, then the basil, and finally the parsley. At the end of this review, I posted photos I took on a weekly basis during the first couple of months.
Within a few short weeks, I had to trim the herbs so they wouldn’t block each other’s light. I now add basil to my pasta sauce and can’t wait to have home-grown parsley on our Seder plate next Passover. I can’t describe the feeling of using regular scissors to cut a few basil leaves off the plant and snip them over roast chicken and various sauces. The aroma when the leaves are cut off suggests a number of Italian dishes. The dill, which grew the fastest, didn’t last very long. I took the trimmings and used it in a pickle recipe. I added too much kosher salt, but the dill still had a good, strong flavor. I think the basil just crowded it out. The parsley looks so delicate that it can fool you into thinking it won’t last, but leaves keep coming in on a near daily basis.
One of the features of the Aerogarden is the telescoping mast that supports the LED grow light. It telescopes from about three to nine inches. It should be kept as close as possible to the growing plants, so it only needs to be raised when the plant touches the LED grow light.
I thought of getting another box of seed pods and starting a new dill plant, but the instructions don’t include anything about replacing one plant. However, there are detailed instructions for starting over with three new plants. My instinct is to wait until it’s time to replace all three plants.
My verdict: If I can grow a viable herb garden with the Aerogarden, anyone can!
Weekly Photos taken from May 10, 2016 to July 13, 2016