extreme newbie needs advice

jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)September 15, 2009

I picked up an aerogarden that someone was selling for 20 bucks on craigslist, and I just got around to setting it up. From what I gather, it comes with little pods (which I don't have) that you put the seeds in. I wasn't able to figure out what kind of substrate is used in the pods.

The way the aerogarden works is that there are six little holes for the plants, and the pump creates a little trickle of nutrient solution for each hole. Right now, my plants' roots are just sort of dangling. The trickle hits part of the roots, but part of them are just open to the air. Should I use a substrate, or put the roots down into the reservoir of nutrient solution and add an air pump, or is it ok as-is?

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grizzman

If I remember the aerogarden right, the little water pump runs on a timer so the plants will have a wet and a dry cycle.
If that is the case, don't worry about them. they will grow down into the nutrient soon enough.
a substrate(commonly referred to as medium here) would be good for providing the plant support, but other than that doesn't do a whole lot.
what are you growing and what nutrient are you using?
for $20, I would buy one.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 10:09PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

Hi Grizzman- thanks for responding. I don't think the pump ever turns off, but I'm not positive. I'm growing tomato plants, and using general hydroponics nutrients.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 7:42AM
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grizzman

Then I would definitely add one or more airstones. that little trickle is probably not enough to aerate the solution.
Unless you're growing a very compact tomato, be aware your light will probably not be sufficient. I don't believe it raises enough for a tom to fully grow and if it does I don't believe it casts enough depth of light. Also, tomatoes have a fairly substantial root system, so the reservoir is going to have to hold over a gallon of water. I can't really tell how large it is in the pictures.
Aerogardens, from what I've seen, seem to be best for growing herbs.
Oh! one other thing; plug the holes you're not using to keep the light out of the water. light on the water promotes algae growth.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 8:09AM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

I was under the impression that I was supposed to keep the roots from going down into the reservoir (that the trickle is their only source of nutrient solution), but was wondering about adding an airstone and letting them grown down as an alternative to using a medium, if that would be a better option.

It's an extremely compact tomato. Reservoir holds right around a gallon of water. I'm curious to see if I can get them to fruit, but if they don't seem to be doing well, I may stick some basil in there, or something.

Thanks for the tip about plugging the holes-- that's good to know.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 9:49AM
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willardb3

Tomato plants are waaaayyyy to large for that system if you are going to make fruit. Aerogarden doesn't list lamp wattages and I will guess the wattage is not sufficient to bring tomatos to fruit.

Stick with herbs that aren't large and don't require much light.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 4:12PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

Again, these are tiny plants that make tiny fruit. I got one to produce several dozen fruits in a 2-cup container. Again, I'm going to give it a try, I can put the aerogarden in a window if I need to, and if they don't fruit, they don't fruit.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 4:27PM
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marathonwoman

Hi Jessica. Good score on the $20 AeroGarden. I'm growing small tomatoes successfully (so far) in my mine, and yes herbs do very well in them. A 6-pod (6-hole) AeroGarden will only hold 3 tomato plants. The seeds/plants are normally in a grow sponge lined "basket" that is about 1.5 inches in diameter at the top and is cone shaped at the bottom. The water comes about half way up the lower cone and keeps the seeds/roots damp by moistening the grow sponge. AeroGardens have a built-in airstone, so you shouldn't need to add one. You will need to do something (get little baskets and some medium) to help support your plants as they grow, plus it is important to cover the opening around the stem of the plant so that your roots are not exposed to the grow light. Originally the "baskets" have a label that blocks light from the roots, but dark-coloured tape will work. They have a decent website for information at Aerogrow.com, and you may want to visit it, just to verify that your system is set-up/functioning as it should. Good luck with it. I'm enjoying mine immensely.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 11:22PM
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project_gardener(5)

The bulbs are 26 watt. Seems weak for tomato. I use mine as a basil machine in the kitchen and it really does well. I just use General Hydroponics Maxigrow. No need to buy those expensive tablets. $20 is a great find, good luck.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 7:53AM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

MW, that's all extremely helpful. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 11:02PM
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bowie2003

hi
i also newbie must the pump on for 24hrs

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 6:20AM
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marathonwoman

Hi Bowie.
With the Aerogarden the pump does run 24 hours, but it is not using a lot of electricity. Most of the cost of electricity to the unit is from the lights, so when the pump is running at night the usage is negligible.
Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 1:55PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

(the plants seem to be doing just fine without a medium!)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 11:36PM
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