Indoor hydroponic gardens: AeroGarden journal 1

Farm-to-table gained its popularity because people are concerned about where their food comes from, its freshness, and its safety. For some lucky folks who own a farm or a backyard edible garden, farm-to-table is just a part of their daily life. I love the joke my husband told me his grandfather would say to emphasize the importance of fresh corn: “You should have a pot of boiling water ready before running to the backyard to pick the corn, and if you fall on the way back to the kitchen, toss the corn because it won’t be fresh anymore”. LOL

I always wanted to grow my own veggies and herbs, but unfortunately I don’t have a green thumb, and honestly I am scared of all bugs. I have tried to grow herbs and flowers outdoor, but they never last long. Growing plants, even cactus, indoor are also short-lived.

Recently, I saw pictures online of someone regrowing root vegetables from the grocery store. I was intrigued and gave it a shot. To my surprise, I have been able to successfully regrow green onions in water inside my home! Is my thumb turning green?!? It has been fun to watch the green onions regrow from scraps, and so satisfying to eat my own home-grown food!

Now, thanks to my husband, my indoor gardening adventure is about to get wild with my Christmas present– 2 AeroGardens! And the coolest part is that having a green thumb is not supposed to matter with this kind of hydroponic system!!

I am using this post to document my journey during the 1st month with the 2 AeroGardens:

This 24-pod indoor hydroponic garden is called an AeroGarden Farm Plus: I use it to grow vegetables and herbs.

The 24 pods of plants are divided into 2 reservoirs (Farm Left and Farm Right), each of which holds 12 pods.

Farm Left (vegetables and herbs):

By day 8, all plants had germinated except the Thai basil and the cilantro.

The most impressive plants so far were the Bok Choy (AeroGarden spells it as Bok Choi) 白菜 (6 pods):

  • It’s a type of Chinese cabbage. There are many varieties of bok choy. The type of bok choy pods from Aerogarden should produce bok choys with green leaves and white stems.
  • The bok choy seeds germinated very fast — in about 4 days! The sprouts look so cute, like little butterflies.
  • They kept on growing at an amazing rate! This was how my 6 pods of bok choy looked like on day 16!

They looked ready to be harvested! My 1st home-grown bok choy!!

  • The bok choy tasted so fresh and crisp that none of those at grocery stores can compare! I love this awesome “plant-to-plate” (P2P) experience, which literally happens within 10 feet from my kitchen!!
  • After the 1st harvest, the bok choy plants continue to grow. 5 days later (day 21) the bok choy plants were already crowding each other, and also crowding the lettuces behind it. It was time to harvest again!
  • The bok choy leaves were so big and green! Some of them were as big as my hand! Unfortunately, some were a bit bitter, because I added plant food to the reservoir too early. Instead of adding it once every 14 days, I added one extra time in between the cycle. My bad!

I planted 2 types of lettuces: Marvels of 4 seasons (1 pod) and Rouge d’Hiver (1 pod).

  • AeroGarden describes Marvels of 4 seasons as “a colorful heirloom variety known for heat resistance”, and Rouge d’Hiver as “heirloom, red Roamine-type from France”.
  • The Rouge d’Hiver germinated on day 4!
  • The following pictures are the progress of the 2 lettuces on days 8, 11, 13, and 27.

I planted 3 types of basil: Thai basil (1 pod), lime basil (1 pod), and genovese basil (1 pod in Farm Left and 2 pods in Farm Right). This was how the basil looked on day 13.

  • Genovese basil, aka sweet basil, is one of the most common basil for cooking, especially for making pesto.
    • I planted 1 pod in distilled water (Farm Left) and 2 pods in tap water (Farm Right) to see if the type of water makes a difference in its growth.
    • The basil from tap water seem to grow bigger, greener, and healthier.

Lime basil (1 pod) is a rare type of basil. It is as sweet and fragrant as genovese basil, but also has a mild citrus smell and taste!

Thai basil (1 pod) is a type of basil native to Southeast Asia. It germinated a bit slower than other plants (about 10 days), but grew steadily afterwards. It smells and tastes like sweet basil flavored with anise and licorice. Its stems are purplish and its flowers are pink!

This was how the basil looked on day 28. They were all being pushed around by the lettuces…

Cilantro (2 pods):

  • I planted 1 pod in distilled water (Farm Left) and 1 pod in tap water (Farm Right) to also see if the type of water makes a difference in its growth.
    • Just like the genovese basil, the cilantro growing in tap water seem to do a little better. This was how the 2 cilantro pods looked on day 26.

Farm right (herbs only):

On Farm Right, most herbs germinated around day 8. This is how Farm Right looked like on day 21.

You can see the genovese basil is growing well. Yay, it’s time to harvest! The genovese basils below are mostly from Farm Right.

After cutting most of the basil leaves, the plants continued to grow very fast. One week later (day 28), I could harvest the basil and make homemade pesto again!

This is how my Farm Right looked on day 28 (I forgot to take a picture before cutting the basil…)

Dill (1 pod) is so far the fastest growing herb!

  • It germinated around the same time as the other herbs, but it grew so much faster than the others. It almost looks like a little tree, and has a light refreshing fragrance!
  • I had to cut it from time to time so the grow light doesn’t have to be adjusted so high and far away from other herbs.
    • I have used some fresh dill in chicken/vegetable/egg dishes. I froze some, and also dehydrated some.

Sage (1 pod) grows really well in the garden too. Fresh sage smells amazing–nothing like the dried stuff in a jar from the stores. It instantly became my new favorite herb!

Oregano (1 pod) and marjoram (1 pod) are from the same family. They both are growing steadily.

Italian parsley (1 pod) and curly parsley (1 pod) had a slow start, but they started to grow better towards the end of the 1st month.

Rosemary (1 pod), thyme (1 pod), and chive (1 pod) are so far growing pretty slow. Nothing too impressive yet.

This 6-pod hydroponic garden is called the AeroGarden Harvest. I use it to grow edible flowers. I bought the flower seeds and planted them in an AeroGarden grow sponge.

Colossus red gold bicolor marigold (2 pods) germinated on day 9, before the other 2 flowers. They should produce yellow edible flowers.

  • It grew much faster than the other 2 types of flowers. This was how the 2 pods of Marigold looked on day 25. I can see a tiny flower bud coming!

The 2 pods of freckled violas germinated on days 21 and 25. Freckled viola is a type of pansy and should produce a speckled purple edible flower. But so far it’s growing pretty slow…

Dwarf jewel mix nasturtium (2 pods) never germinated during the 1st month at all. Sad.

Final notes:

  • After comparing the growth of the genovese basil and cilantro between those planted in distilled water and those planted in tap water, I can see that the plants growing in tap water seem to thrive better.
    • I am glad it turned out this way, so I can stop using distilled water. Otherwise I would have spent a lot of money buying distilled water, because when they get going the plants drink water like crazy!!
  • Deciding where to plant the different vegetables and herbs matters!
    • The slots for the pods are pretty close together. If you have tall plants in the front, you may have hard time reaching those plants in the middle or the far back row. This will make trimming and harvesting difficult.
  • It seems like the vegetables and herbs can cross breed a little bit because the plants share the same reservoir and the roots can easily get tangled up. For example, the Bok Choy growing next to the Rouge d’Hiver eventually turned reddish!
  • A white fuzz that looks like mold developed around the bottom of the plants due to extreme moisture. The Aerogarden website said it doesn’t hurt the edibility of the vegetables.
  • So far I have enjoyed my new indoor hydroponic gardens. Nothing beats fresh vegetables and herbs within arm’s reach! Also, snipping one piece of leaf off at a time has given me a new perspective on the value of food. And last but not least, the entire process from planting, to growing, to harvesting, is very therapeutic!

Don’t forget to take a look at my progress with the AeroGardens — Indoor hydroponic garden: AeroGarden journal 2

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