Does anyone have any first or second-hand experience with aerogrow?
I got one for Christmas with the herb kit that is doing well. I did substitute lime basil for the chives though. I'll try to help if I can.
Those photos look amazing, as if the plants were actually growing from small dishes. Basil leaves that size are usually grown in a few months of outdoor growing.
I probably should have put this with the pics:
Back, Left to right: Mint, Basil, Dill, Cilantro
Front, Left to Right: Curly Parsley, Purple Basil, Lime Basil
I pulled out the chive seeds from the sponge pack and swapped them for lime basil seeds I have from Seeds of Change; I have to keep those trimmed back every night or they grow into the lights and burn. The hood is currently as high as it will go.
The regular basil & purple basil growth has really slowed down, especially compared to the lime (all other seeds were the ones included). The dill I have to keep trimmed to keep from burning. The cilantro is really floppy (I have to keep it laying across the AG or it will just hang). The mint just spreads out and then up.
I picked up an unopened Romaine lettuce seed kit for it for $2 at a thrift store (instead of the $19.99 from AG) and after that I'll probably just get new sponges and use my own seeds.
Is it possible to remove the light source to somehow raise it more? Either that, an extrenal light source may be useful. At least your having fun, and are getting some very quick growing herbs. Each trimming may be good for a single meal. Cilantro, once it bolts isn't worth keeping. In its flat parsley leave shape its fine to use in Tai dishes or salsas. I used some with lime juice to flavor some chicken.
Cilantro is fun in so many dishes. Gotta second the salsa recommendation. It is so easy to make and you can vary the amounts of any of the ingredients to suit your own tastes. Google search an exact recipe but here's the general idea....
Store bought fresh tomatoes are pretty bad tasting this time of the year so canned tomatoes are an acceptable alternative - buy them already diced for a time saver. Add some chopped onion, chopped green chilis (you can leave them out if you wish), a little minced fresh jalapeno (I like to use serrano peppers), chopped cilantro, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, and lime juice and/or vinegar. If the tomatoes aren't sweet enough, you can add some sugar - generally not needed with canned tomatoes. Mix and eat!
You will love it and want to grow more!
The OP had asked about the Aerogarden and never came back :-) One thing we enjoy is cilantro rice - we make basmati per the directions but add cilantro stems to the liquid and let it steep. Once the rice is done, remove the stems and add a handful of cilantro leaves. Yummy.
I use herbs all the time and started drying the excess to use in the winter. We love salsa, especially with a mix of fresh and roasted peppers and onions, toasted cumin and fresh ground smoked chile powder. No sugar, uhuh, no thanks. I only buy tomatoes that smell like tomatoes - if there's no smell then there's no taste. I just started seeds of 6 different kinds of peppers and 5 different tomatoes.
I'm going to start the various basil seeds I have in the next week or so and am trying lavender bergamot this year. I am really loving the lime basil. It will be interesting to compare what is in the AG with what grows outside.
For a large batch of salsa we usually use
32oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 large onion
1 fresno, poblano and/or anahiem
1 bunch of cilantro
4-5 garlic cloves
chile powder (we use a blend of various dried peppers toasted and ground)
salt & pepper
cut the onion in 4ths. In a foil lined baking dish, put the onion, garlic and half of the peppers, tossed with olive oil, sprinkled with cumin seed, salt and pepper. Roast at about 450 until the skins start to blacken. Peel the peppers. Put everything from the baking dish (including the seasonings and oil) and a handful of cilantro in a food processor and pulse until it is a texture you like. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl, and add the pepper/onion/garlic/cilantro mixture. Add the juice of 2 limes to start with and some chile powder to taste. If you want it spicier, add the fresh peppers too, you can add more lime and cilantro to taste. We never measure and go mostly by taste.
Cilantro is only good when fresh. It looses most all of its character and flavor once its heated, cooked, or left out for a day or two. I made a batch of Pad Tai with some, and it lost all that taste in a day. I add more fresh chopped when serving. Nellie & Joes is the best for bottled lime juice. I buy it by the case, as its not found around here anymore.
On the cilantro rice that dafygardennut mentioned-- when I have stale rice that's been sitting in the fridge for too long I either make fried rice (chahan) or cilantro rice. For cilantro rice I toss chopped onions in a little olive oil for about a minute then add some crushed or chopped fresh garlic. I sautÃ© that for couple minutes until the onions are translucent then add rice (basmati is best for this). Cook until rice is hot and shiny with the oil. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Thrown in a couple pinches of salt and squeeze some fresh lime over it before serving. It goes amazingly well with lots of different dishes.
Cilantro is also amazing if stirred into Indian curry.
Just got a mailing from the company that offers these. Your looks like the standard model. They also offer an upgrade for the lamp head that raises up to 24 inches. The bulbs are flat and offer 3 times the light output compared to yours. Not sure if they have a web site, but I saw several models and also the planting 'cones' and nutrients, as well as a large variety of seeds. These things have a built in microprocessor that monitors the water, nutrients, and even the lamps output, to tell you they need more, or replacements.
The planting cones basically hold the sponges with a slit in them that the seeds go in. They do have a website and the various kits range from $20 to $40, they have replacement pumps, bulbs, etc. They also have a Master Gardener kit that is just the cones with sponges that you can put your own seeds in; and a seed starter tray with "biocells" that can hold up to 70 seedlings. I would never pay that much for an "upgrade"; I wouldn't even pay for an AG unless it was really cheap at a thrift store - mine was an x-mas gift.
Here is a link that might be useful: Aerogarden
The 'upgrade' was just for a taller lamp post and brighter more powerful lamps. I agree the system is pricy, but because your plants look so good, and have matured to a point that looks like more than 2 months of growing, the system is doing its job very well. If you plan to grow more in it, choose plants with shorter heights. Basil, goes to 3 foot or more, as does dill, and if these are in a system like that, they will quickly outgrow their habitat. Lucky you for getting such a nice gift. Christmas gifts can be the start or an interesting hobby.
dafy, can you give us an update on how your garden is doing? How often are you able to harvest the leaves and how much are you getting off the plants eat time you harvest?
I just had my aerogarden 2 days back and have created an aerogarden community at Aerogardeners.com there you can share photos, swap seeds and most importantly swap tips and tricks about modding your Aerogarden !
Here is a link that might be useful: Aerogarden Community
I got one for cristmass. Dh worked overtime to buy it for me. Verry sweet. Ok what I wanted to tell was that you dont have to lat your plants die in the aero grow. Befor the 3 month time is up pull thm out and break away the pods or just leave the pod if you rather. Plant them in soil. I used hand made newspaper pots. Keep the soil verry moist. They will take. I have my garden starter tray in now. I even saved my nutrient water in a milk jug rather than pouring it out. My house plants are in heaven. Renew reuse. I just want to find a cheap alturnative to the sponges. Ordering them online is inconvient.
Nice for small scale seed starting and a few herbs. Here, I start seeds in about 300+ pots every spring, so this method would be a bit $$$!
I planted the herb kit first and when they got to a good size I transplanted them to soil. They are all thriving, and the Cilantro even more than it was in the original form. I now have the Tomato kit going and they are about 8" tall already. I have enjoyed this contraption thoroughly during these long winter months.
So how exactly does this work? Are the nutrients and water some how aerosoled in that compartment below?
The bottom is like a tub, there is an air hose that continuosly blows bubbles, and you drop a nutrient tablet in about every 2 weeks (there is a reminder light when it is time). And that my friend is it.
I have 2 aero grows, one with bsil right now and one with lavender. Im going to start a garden (the 66 pods) next. Have you ever tried to subtitute anything for the nutrient tabs? What is in those tabs, anyway?