I purchased my AeroGardens almost a full year ago, and now it’s time to reflect on that purchase and what I’ve learned through hydroponics and the seasons. Plus, I have some tips for making your herbs last longer than their 6-month expected lifespan.
When I purchased these Harvest models, I had no idea what was involved in hydroponics, nor what that even meant. My hope was to grow herbs and some vegetables indoors so I could enjoy them throughout the year, outside of the standard growing season in NJ. What I got was a good lesson on growing, lighting, temperatures, water conditions, and nutrients. Overall, it was a relatively easy process and one I highly suggest if you have a brown thumb (as I used to have).
Over the course of the year, I’ve taken apart and reset my Harvest models 2-3 times each. During last spring, I grew herbs and lettuce indoors and then moved to growing everything outdoors for the rest of the season.
I let some things die, or moved the plants to pots outdoors such as a jalapeno plant that went wild and by moving it outside produced hundreds of peppers I shared far and wide, as well as still have bags frozen for another day.
I experimented and also felt it a waste to keep paying electric and water indoors when the growing conditions were just right outside. I’m a little cheap like that sometimes! Free sun and rain, sign me up!
How to Keep Herbs Growing Longer in the AeroGarden
This winter, I restarted one of the models to grow cherry tomatoes, jalapenos, and kept my basil going. I have had this basil going in the AeroGarden for almost a full year now. What I found works to help it keep producing is to clip off any flower buds (the standard outdoor practice of keeping basil producing), and cutting back the roots in the base when I changed up which plants I was going to grow along with it.
I can’t stress enough, cutting back the roots that expanded all over the water portion underneath was a huge way to keep the basil healthy and continually producing after the suggested lifespan of 6 months. My sister also said she does the same thing with her herbs and they continually produce beyond their normal lifespan.
Now, almost a year out, I am seeing the basil trying hard to go to flowering and it may just be because I’ve overcrowded it with other plants. And, our garden window gets quite cold (it’s single pane) so everything slows down tremendously in this window during the winter.
This second round of tomatoes is on fire. It’s been growing rapidly, and I have cut just a few top portions off to keep it growing outward instead of up. I have also had to tie it up to the back post to keep it from snapping over. It is a very healthy plant!
What’s nice about the AeroGardens is that I know I can pretty much start and grow anything in them and can transplant those plants outdoors or to other pots. I put other plants around them to soak up the light as well, and I am continually cutting back roots every few months and rotating around what I grow.
Currently, I only have one going, but I am going to set the other one up with some flower seeds to get those started to then put into pots or outdoors. I may go back to a group of herb plants (I have so many dried and frozen from the first several months!), but I may wait on that because spring is coming and those are easy enough to grow outdoors.
The price of hydroponic machines is not inexpensive by any means, but the fresh produce and herbs I’ve garnered from it over the past year have been well worth it. Plus, I’ve learned so much about plants, nutrients, and how things grow that has extended over into my gardening experience.
You can grow anything you want in these machines, you’re not limited to their seeds or growing packs. When I purchased, I picked up their 50-grow anything pods and still have so many left. I can throw in a few seeds (sometimes only ever use 1 seed) and voila, I have a new plant in just a few weeks.
One thing I do like and dislike at the same time is the light. The light provides such a bright natural style light every morning when I go into the kitchen (ours comes on at 5 am and goes off 14-17 hours later depending on the plants). What I dislike is never having those dark moments downstairs when I wake up in the morning!
I may move one of the gardens to another area of the house because running two is super bright and we tend to never turn our kitchen lights on even in the winter based on the light it gives off. I’d love to brighten up any other shady parts of the house, too! We just don’t have too many shady areas, as we have a southern facing home (which I made a requirement on when buying a new house).
I highly recommend something like this to get started with gardening. I love using it, how quickly it works, and how I can transplant what I’ve grown or experimented with what I’m growing or how I can keep it growing for a longer period of time. It perfectly fits my desire for lifelong experimenting!
They always have sales on their website and good deals, just keep out for a good one. I received my two Harvest models for the price of one, plus the other items were on sale at the same time. They also offer various lighting kits or other products now that you can set up your own grow area in your house. I am sure you can find grow lights and similar kits by other companies for different prices as well. Shop around.
In the end, I’m glad I splurged. It has been a fun year of learning, plus there is so much more I’m going to use it for going forward in the varieties of plants. Plus, the best part has been easily clipping the fresh herbs for any recipe when those were the focus of my machines. The kids also enjoyed watching things grow, and I hope one day to convince Monkey to set out on his own experimental journey with one of these models.
Have you used hydroponics before to grow your own food or herbs?