Here’s how the AeroGarden is looking these days (or, rather, yesterday). It’s a real treat having herbs in the middle of the winter. The basil, mint, dill, and oregano are doing really well. One basil never came up and the thyme died, but that’s not a big deal — we have thyme outside. (Please ignore the houseplant. That’s a story for another day.)
Dabbling in (nearly) foolproof hydroponics has been thought-provoking. The AeroGarden is a really well-designed gizmo, and I love the lights and built-in timer. I think their seed starting kit could be a great improvement to my methods and I’m considering buying it.
The one minor design flaw is that the pump is loud (kind of like a white noise machine on overdrive), but even that is forgivable if you put it in the right room.
The true problem with the AeroGarden is inherent to hydroponics: without soil you must use chemical inputs keep the plants happy. The nutrient packets for the AeroGarden have that stinky fertilizer smell — like the back of an old garden shed (or the Home Depot garden center). The idea of having to continually buy chemicals troubles me both in the buying and in the sourcing of chemicals. There should be a better way.
This has led to me doing some thinking about whether there’s a way to hack the AeroGarden to use more sustainable inputs (organic nutrients?), to rework the lights with a soil-based seed kit, or … maybe … (this is a little nutty) find an aquarium and turn it into aquaponics system!!
Seriously guys, aquaponics is really cool. Instead of fertilizer, aquaponics uses fish who poo out nitrogen to feed your plants. It’s pretty ingenious. Once you’ve got the set up, your only inputs are fish food (which can be home-grown worms or duckweed), occasionally fresh water, and a source of energy (solar!). (Ok, and a lot of time.) Maybe it’s the year for a greenhouse!