November/December  2006 

 

 

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“My AeroGarden is essential a rainforest-in-a-box, where plant roots are grown directly in the air in a 100% humid, oxygen-rich environment with a consistent nourishing ‘rainfall’ of organic-based nutrients—with no dirt, pesticides or soil contaminants.”

A Chinese proverb says, “Whoever plants a garden, plants happiness.” That’s well and good, but for those of us who live in an apartment, gardening facilities are either limited or nonexistent. So for me, happiness took shape with a unique appliance called the AeroGarden, which made possible a lush herb garden right in my kitchen.

When I first heard about the AeroGarden, I was amazed to learn that it used aeroponic technology, which meant that the roots of the plants would be suspended in air, rather than in soil or water (hydroponic). This, I read, meant accelerated growth and high yields. Even better, I could grow tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and even flowers prod-1-204in my apartment—and without any natural light.

Though I found all of this somewhat space age-y, the literature informed me that the technology does have an ancient history dating back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There, complex chain pumps manually operated around the clock to deliver nutrient-rich water from the Euphrates River. Today this ancient technology is used worldwide--including The Land exhibit at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot Center.

My AeroGarden is essential a rainforest-in-a-box, where plant roots are grown directly in the air in a 100% humid, oxygen-rich environment with a consistent nourishing ‘rainfall’ of organic-based nutrients—with no dirt, pesticides or soil contaminants. The plants, I learned, would grow up to five times faster than plants grown in soil.

As the appliance has been designed for use by even the most inept gardener, it took me only minutes to set up. I filled the well with tap water to the fill line, placed the little plug-and-grow containers in their sockets, covered them with tiny plastic domes (these would be removed when the sprouts grew high enough to touch them), then dropped the clearly market sprouting nutrient tablet into the water. I plugged the system in, pressed the appropriate option for herbs on the control panel—and that was it. This is a fully automated ‘smart’ garden that protects itself from over-watering or over-feeding and adjusts the grow lights and nutrient delivery cycles.

prod-1-105After about a week, I saw green spouts. Fast growth indeed. A few days later, I had to remove most of the domes. After two weeks, the blinking light on the panel told me to add water and two tablets of growing nutrients. (The blinking light makes the system foolproof.) A little later, I actually had a little garden: cilantro, chives, dill, basil, purple basil, oregano and mint. Soon I could forget about buying these herbs from the supermarket, using what I needed and watching the rest wither or turn funky.

Now I could snip whatever herbs I needed—without even having to wash them, as they’re simply growing in air. MY HERBS WOULD CONTINUE TO GROW FOR FOUR TO SIX MONTHS—and then I could start again, either with the same selection or with something different.

There’s an International Gourmet Collection, featuring, French, Italian and Japanese herbs—a treasure for home cooks and chefs alike—as well as kits for salad greens, International Basil, Chili Pepper, Cherry Tomato, Asian Herbs, Salsa (tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro) and Cascading Petunias. Wouldn’t it be lovely, I thought, to have fresh flowers all winter long without having to go out to buy them?

The AeroGarden, which comes in black or white, retails for $149.95; seed kits are $19.95. They are sold at a number of retail outlets and online; for more information, visit www.aerogrow.com.



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