While vacationing in Vegas, my husband and I were lounging in the hotel room. He was watching Day9 stream while I was browsing social media on my phone. During the course of the evening, my husband’s interest of hydroponics was peaked by something Day9 said on his stream. This in turn led me to researching home DIY hydroponics. Given that it’s winter time, I will save my experimentation for the spring. I did however come across a deal on a Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Harvest LED for about $80 (regularly $150). For the cost of two losing hands of Pai Gow poker, I took the plunge and bought it. The kit arrived three days later.
I managed to contain my excitement for a whole three days before setting it up in the kitchen. It was simple. Fill the base with water, add nutrient solution, insert pods, lower the LED, and turn it on. And thus the chronicle begins…
Day 2: December 22, 2015 The basil has sprouted. I can see the cilantro is going to sprout soon. The dill pod is looking a little fuzzy/moldy.
Day 7: December 27, 2015 We went out of town for XMAS weekend. While we were gone, the Thai basil and cilantro came up. The dill will be coming in soon. Not seeing activity with the parsley and mint yet.
Day 10: December 30, 2015 The parsley made an appearance. I’m starting to worry about the mint…no signs of activity yet.
Day 13: January 2, 2016 The mint has started to grow!
Day 19: January 8, 2016 Getting there…
Day 25: January 14, 2016 The plants are really starting to guzzle water. Although the Aerogarden Harvest LED has a water level indicator that will light up when the level is low, it recommends topping off the water regularly before the light comes on for best results. I have checked everyday for the last three mornings and have needed to add about a cup of water each time. You can see the roots in the picture below.
I have also needed to prune the cilantro, dill, and basil for the last two days. Again it is recommended to lower your plants instead of raising the lights. My parsley and mint are still small and raising the light hood could result in the fast growing plants to block enough light to suppress the slower growing neighbors.
Day 30: January 19, 2016 I am loving the fresh herbs. We have had pizza with fresh basil, eggs over easy with dill, and spicy soup with cilantro in the last week. This is only what I collected from pruning the plants back while waiting for the parsley and mint to catch up. I have noticed that some of the cilantro leaves are browning a bit.
Day 32: January 21, 2016 I have to trim the dill back about every other day. I raised the lamp slightly even though the mint is still pretty small. It’s sink or swim little one!
Day 37: January 26, 2016 I am adding water to the base every day now. The leaves of the cilantro are still browning but everything else is going strong. We used all the Thai basil cuttings on Sunday making green curry and I had to cut more this morning. I will take a shot a at propagating the basil cuttings for the garden this spring.
Day 51: February 9, 2016 I am now tending to the Aerogarden every morning before work. Not a big deal since it’s in the kitchen. I filled the water basin yesterday morning and this evening the add water light was blinking. Over half the water in the basin was gone. I am beginning to think that my herbs are going to die the next time my husband and I go out of town for more than two days.
I have raised the LED light to max height which about 12 inches. Some of the new leaves on the parsley and cilantro are turning yellow. I’m not sure if that is due to a lack of light, low water, or something else. The two basil plants are doing great. I am frequently pinching off the tops of the Thai basil that wants to flower. The dill is growing like a weed. Mint, well that’s another story. The mint is looking pretty pathetic. I am consider removing the pod and placing the plant in a pot. It can’t do any worse than how it’s doing now.
Day 60: February 18, 2016 I removed the mint today and put it in a pot. Hopefully I didn’t shock the poor thing too much.
Day 64: February 22, 2016 RIP mint.
Day 70: February 28. 2016 I trimmed the plants back significantly and lowered the LED light. I have a lot of herbs to use this week.
Day 80: March 8, 2016 New growth is starting again at the base of the parsley and dill. The two basil plants are still pretty dominant. The cilantro is a beast which is a good thing since I can’t seem to get enough of it. I did notice that some of the cilantro leaves are turning red, almost like they are sunburned. From what I have read on the internet, I believe this is from two things, some of the leaves are getting too close to the LED lights in combination with the fact that these plants drain the water reservoir quickly thus causing them to dry out temporarily. Prior to trimming the plants back ten days ago, I was having to fill the reservoir twice a day, am and pm. At least now I am back to adding water once a day. When I start Aerogarden round two in the future, I will only do 3 pods. Tending to the Harvest LED with six (or in my case, five) full grown plants is fine as long as you do it everyday.
On a side note, I have been trying to start some new plants from my clippings of the Genovese and Thai basil plants along with some rosemary that I got from my mother’s garden. I am starting to see roots on the Genovese basil! Fingers crossed.
Day 89: March 17, 2016 I’ve cut the basil and dill again. Also noticed some little black gnats flying around my herbs.
Day 95: March 23, 2016 Time for another good trimming. Used the cilantro and Genovese basil in my soup for dinner. There was too much Thai basil and I ended up tossing most of it in the trash. The dill I hung up to dry. Parsley is kind of a useless herb for me. I really don’t like the flavor and certainly do not cook meals that require a decorative garnish. It too made it in the trash.
Day 107: April 4, 2016 We had friends over on Friday night and I guess one of the overnight guests decided to turn off the light so he could sleep. I didn’t notice on Saturday or Sunday because I was still recovering myself. I reset the light this morning before work.
I have been cutting back the Genovese basil to start new plants. I now have four new basil plants for the garden and four more that are starting to root. You can also see some lemon basil, Thai basil, rosemary, mint, and lemon grass that I am attempting to grow as part of my zombie garden.
Day 117:April 13, 2016 In preparation for our 6 day trip to Vegas, I cut back the plants in hopes that they would require less water and not drain the reservoir dry.
Day 124: April 20, 2016 They survived. The reservoir was still half full when I check it Tuesday night.
Day 187: June 15, 2016 I am officially calling this round done. Shut off the water pump and light. Now I just need to sanitize it and start again.