Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gadgetry: Aerogarden

I know I've been promising for quite some time now to post about my Aerogarden I got for my birthday. I waited until I had a no bento week so I could use this as a filler post. I'm sure most of you reading are home gardeners that, as we speak, are turning your nose up at me since I'm not actually gardening and communing with the earth. Unfortunately, I have a tendency towards killing all things green. I also have a voracious mosquito population in my backyard just waiting to feast on me. So what better way to have my fresh herbs than to turn to technology to solve my woes.

Ever since moving up north the single largest cost impact to my bentos was the "fresh" herbs I was forced to buy. I mean $3.50 for a small package of basil/oregeno/dill/chives? Really?! I was use to going to Central Market and picking up a beautiful bunch of basil for a dollar. Besides, a package of thyme was usually a waste, you only need two or three sprigs. So I was really excited at the chance to be able to pick my herbs fresh out of the "garden" and use them as I needed them.

So what does this thing come with? You get the shell and the bulbs which you have to assemble, that took all of two mins. Then you carefully read the instructions on the plant pods. The default plant pods included basil, purple basil, dill, mint, chives, cilantro, and parsley. It was all really straightforward and getting started was easy. It's a fairly sturdy contraption but fairly large so I needed a decent counter to put this on, fortunately my wet bar was the perfect spot.




Once the setup was complete, the Aerogarden regulated lighting and all I had to do was add water and nutrient tablets it even told me when to do it. You start off with little domes on the pods to create a little greenhouse effect and when they sprout, off come the domes. Every once and again as the plants got close to the light, I had to extend the hood and give my plants some more space to grow. My only caution here is that you should put the Aerogarden somewhere you won't mind an extremely bright light as it turns on in the middle of the night. Also, don't put it in a too out of the way place, you need to be able to keep an eye on the screen and remember when to put in new food tablets. Later in the growing cycle, two weeks is way too long to wait to replenish water, I top it off every five days or so. The sprouts came in pretty fast and they grow at a good rate, but you start seeing some real plant action about two or three weeks into your growing season.


Voila! Here's my garden as of today, sorry about the washed out picture, I didn't want to disturb the growing light. I've had to pick the basil several times as I fear it's a fire hazard so close to the growing light. The cilantro and parsley never really came in, they tried really really hard but never managed to grow a full bunch. I've had more than enough just picking off the plants every week to supply my cooking experiments (home made pancetta), and bentos. I think I'm going to take a chunk out and make a batch of pesto. I believe the garden is suppose to hold up for three months total. I started mine July 4th, so I'm well into 2.5 months and it's still going strong.

The Aerogarden has made me a believer, I think the only thing left to do is to get a second one so I can a have a big cherry tomato plant to go along with my herbs. I think if I had more of a green thumb a large size garden plot would yield a lot more cool veggies. But for my purposes of having fresh herbs at hand it works just fine. Besides, with an indoor garden I don't have to contend with pests or other animals that would gladly snack on an outdoor garden.

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