If you’re into indoor gardening, than look no further than the Miracle Gro AeroGarden Ultra LED. This indoor gardening system grows 5 times faster than soil and you can grow anything from herbs, salad greens, vegetables to flowers.
Now, I’m a culinary gourmet who would basically try any combination of herbs and spices that exist. Every weekend there’s a culinary marathon that runs on my TV. What I most enjoy is when I see chefs use fresh herbs, growing in the kitchen.
Indoor gardening has become a trend over the years and I’m really into it. Still, my options are kind of limited. I live with my wife in 700 square feet apartment in Newark, with no balcony and obviously my biggest problem is the space. Pods with ground need special location, you can’t just put them anywhere. Also the sun is seasonal and it requires a lot of attention, so for me it really didn’t worth the effort.
I first noticed the AeroGarden at the Gourmet Housewares Show, being upscale electric on display. It really looked cool. It can feat in any kitchen or living room, you just have to set it up, turn it on and water it from time to time. You can grow a variety of plants in any season of the year.
I was thinking for a few months whether to get it, but still postpone it week after week. Luckily my wife being a kitchen enthusiast as well, was more decisive and we bought it in September. So far we’ve been using it for 4 and a half months and I really wanted to write this AeroGarden review, knowing how many people would be interested in it.
First, let’s start with the conditions that the AeroGarden requires..
The AeroGarden Ultra LED dimensions are 17.25″ W x 11.25″ D x 15″-34″ H and it weights around 12,7 pounds. It also has a light pole that extends up to 24″. Having this size any sturdy or water tolerant surface, like a table, commode, or shelve that covers these dimensions will do the job.
You can place it in any room where you have free space next to an electrical outlet. I placed it in the corner of my kitchen work table. I have the space there, it’s away from my bedroom so the light and bubbling water won’t bother me and it has the ideal temperature (between 65F to 75F). In my case it had to be in the kitchen, because I really wanted to cut the herbs, while I was cooking.
As I mentioned, the best is not to have it in the bedroom. The noise of the bubbling and the light might disrupt your sleep.
The real excitement starts, once you receive your package. By unwrapping the package you’ll find the setup guide, the seed pod kits and the AeroGarden’s structure.
Putting it all together is as easy as it gets.
First take out the base. On it you’ll see the control panel that has an interactive LCD display. The display will guide you every step throughout the growing process. It has an automated feature, which turns the lights on and off and tells you weather you have optimal conditions for growing. Also it has a great feature of gardening tips and a reminder for when to add the water and Nutrients.
On the base goes the water reservoir. What’s important about it, is that provides a root system with an excellent balance of oxygen, water and nutrients. This will allowed the plants to grow five times faster, compared to growing in soil. Attached on the top is the footprint that contains 7 seed pods. I end up using only 5 of them because of the space, but as long as there’s harvest it’s fine. The AeroGarden Bounty has 9 seed pots, but more on that later.
The telescoping rod is next, which is holding the lights and it can extend up to 24 inches.
The real star have to be the LED lights that are producing white, red and blue lights. Each color has its own value. White is for faster growth, blue for bigger yields and red is for larger fruits and flowers. Their value is in their ability to deliver faster yield. Also they use 60% less power than the other products from AeroGarden, while at the same time produce 50% more growth. Because they don’t produce heat you can have them just above the plants.
I’ve seen some tips online that you can put aluminum foil on the AeroGarden as a reflect material. Basically you’ll attach some aluminum foil on the top, which will reflect the lights throughout the stem. This will work as light booster. It might help for faster growth, but I won’t put it because the plants really look fantastic in my kitchen, so I don’t want to cover them.
This is in general the entire structure of the AeroGarden. According to the manufacturer, this process of growing plants has a higher concentration of vitamins compared with the natural growth. I personally can’t guarantee this, but these plants are for sure as organic as you can get.
Plant food – Water and Nutrients
The plants receive their food, from the water and nutrients that we pour in.
I can say that New Jersey water is fine. Not only its fine, but it’s drinkable, therefore if it’s good for people it is definitely good for plants. No need to spend extra cash for watering.
You can see in the plants, whether there are some issues with the water. If the plants are germinating and growing well, than everything is cool. If you notice poor germination, poor growth or drying leaves, than there might be problems with the water. So far, I’ve only used tap water and I didn’t came across any issues.
Most of the US have quality water, except for some regions (usually South/Southwest US). The water there it’s hard, which is not suitable for proper plant growing. If you live in such a place just buy bottled distilled water. You can find a gallon of distilled water in the supermarket, it’s cheaper than the normal one.
Also it’s not recommended well water and spring water, because of the high mineral content.
Regarding the watering, every other day fill the tank up to “Fill to Here” float and that’s pretty much it.
Beside the water, the only other food the plants need are the liquid nutrients. They come together with every Seed pod kit. If you want to get more, you can order them on Amazon.
You add the nutrients when you initially plant your seed pods and every 2 weeks thereafter. There is also “Add Nutrient” reminder, which will activate in every two weeks. Make sure after you add the nutrients, you use the “Reset” button so it’ll remind you for the next session.
The quantity of the nutrition depends on how many pods you’re using. For 7 pods is 8 ml. I used only 5 pods, so I added 6 ml of nutrients. You have detailed instructions on the back of the bottle.
Growing and Harvesting
Now, I would like to reflect on the plants themselves and share my experience with each seed separately. I won’t go too much into detail, just basic guides that can help you. Together with the package came a Gourmet Herb Kit and a Salsa Garden Kit that I ordered. Few weeks later I also ordered the Salad Kit. Let’s get started.
First we’ll start with everyone favorite’s cherry tomatoes. I received 2 seed pods of cherry tomatoes and I put them both on the back corners. The germination period for this plant is around 2-3 weeks. One important note for all plants, after its 2″ tall, check the seed pod for multiple plants. If there’s more than one, use scissors to gently snip the small plants, making sure there’s only one plant in each pod.
The tomato will start grow really high and wide, so around 4-5 weeks’ time they must be pruned constantly to keep the plant small and compact. Also pruning strengthens the main stem, which allows the plant to form more branches lower on the stem. I also trimmed all of the extra leaves as well. The plant doesn’t really need them and they only cover the light for the other plants.
The plant started forming the fruit about 2 months’ time. My harvest began after 2.5 months when they started turning red and since than they’re producing like crazy. I plan to keep them around 6 months and if it’s possible to repot them and start growing something new. So far I’m really happy with the tomatoes, even though they need more taking care than the rest. Still, it’s easy gardening and it’s getting me quite relax.
The Mini Jalapeno sprouts within 8-14 days. Much of the instructions for the cherry tomatoes apply here regarding the germination. The Jalapeno plant grows the tallest, so you have to regularly trim the leaves that block the other plants. It’s no problem to cut all of the extra leaves. The jalapenos should be ready to take out and use around 2.5-3 months. The good thing is once they start growing they can’t be stopped. I kept it in the AeroGarden for around 3.5 months. I repoted it and it still keeps on giving.
The germination for the cilantro is up to 2 weeks’ time. I start pruning it from 4 weeks, but you can leave it one more week. If it starts blocking the lights for the other plants, don’t hesitate to cut some leaves. After 35 days exactly, I took it out and repoted it. Usually about this time is ready for harvest.
Basil is our favorite. Actually because of it, me and my wife convinced ourselves that we need the AeroGarden. If you enjoy it like we do, than this is a real return of investment for you.
I planted the Genovese Basil. Just like most of the herbs, its germination period is within 7-14 days. Now the thing about basil is that is grows vigorously and you have to prune it regularly, otherwise it can take over your whole AeroGarden. I read it in a blog later on that after the basil has developed 3 sets of leaves, cut the main stem above the third set. Will try that next time.
Regarding the harvest, I started pruning around the 5th week and it’s really growing like crazy. As I said a real treat for all basil lovers. Great for sauces, sandwiches, pizza, you can even make a pesto with it, cause there’s so much of it. So far it’s growing for 4 months and I really can’t get enough of it. Also it smells great in the apartment.
So far I have been growing these 4 plants. I’ll repot the basil now and the cherry tomatoes at 6 months’ time. Next on my list are the salads. I’ve done a lot of research, so I want to give some guide lines for other plants you can grow. I’m going to reflect on few plants that I find them more alluring. For all of the rest, you can check out the “Tending and harvesting guides”.
After everything is clear and the AeroGarden is ready for my next session, I’ll be doing the salads. They should be very simple.
The salad greens should start sprouting in the first week. Once it’s sprouted and growing, you can put it on high growth. Around 3-4 weeks you can start harvest and get about 4-5 salads a week. You will be lead by the intensity of growing and after the 5th week, when it’s on full-blow you can take 1-2 salads a day. Do that as long as it’s giving, or as long as you want. After it’s done, clear it all and start your next session.
I’m not going to be planting the strawberries in the next few rounds, but for sure I’m going to do them in a couple of months or so. For these you basically need two things: strawberry crowns and Grow anything kit from AeroGarden. The strawberry crowns are packed in dirt and you have to break them apart to get the individual crowns, while the Grow anything kit provides the nutrients and baskets that you need to grow.
What you do is take out the baskets from the Grow anything kit and put the root crowns in them. Than you snip the bottom of the basket, so it’ll allow the roots to go through there. After it’s in there, you just plug them in the AeroGarden and you do the same like with the rest of the pods. Turn the AeroGarden on, add water and nutrients and start growing them. In a month or so, you should expect to have great, big strawberries on your plants.
Dill and Rosemary
People will get the AeroGarden and grow variety of plants, but at some point they’ll start favoring some more than the others. As mentioned, for me are the herbs. I love making spices, so probably I’ll grow most of the herb plants.
Dill and rosemary are next on my list. The germination period for the Dill is within 8-21 days. The Dill grows slower than the other herbs and its maturity point is around 70 days. Important thing about the Dill is that it will outgrow the other herbs, even basil. When it grows about a foot high, it root system will start choke the neighbors, so you’ll have to cut back on a daily basis to prevent this. At this point it might be even best to transplant it.
About the Rosemary, unfortunately I can’t find any reviews. On the website it says it’s a new product, so probably not many people tested it. Still, it’s a classic herb very much used and I’ll take my chances anyway. What you should know is that germination period is within 7-14 days and should be ready for harvesting in 4-6 weeks. It should produce harvest up to 6 months, so if it works out, it’ll be a treat.
Now probably I won’t use my AeroGarden for flowers, but if you love having them in your home, I’m sure at some point you’ll buy one of the flower kits. And the good news is, there are around 15 flower pod kits you can buy from AeroGarden. You have so many varieties of colors and seasons, just pick anything you think that will be suitable for your interior.
Unlike the herbs and other plants, you don’t have to worry about pruning too much with the flowers. The flowers will start blooming within 30-60 days and can last within 4-6 months, depending on the breed. With some Pod kits you cover 7 pods, with others 3-4. Depended on the Pod kit you can get 1, 2 or 4 seasons of growth. You have everything in the description, just pick a color and you’re good to go.
Beside the plants above, you still have a lot of other ones you can grow with the AeroGarden: spinach, kale, green beans, sage, thyme, chives, mint, oregano, chamomile… the list goes on.
AeroGarden is probably the easiest and lowest maintenance garden ever, but still it needs taking care of. As the plants are growing, I find dead leaves or other plants all over the surface. What I do is, once a week I wipe the top and do some trimming. That should be enough, unless some plant requires more attention.
Trimming the roots is as equally important. You should do it after 4 weeks, when the plants still haven’t grown too large. Simply raise the lights, lift the front flap on the water reservoir and gently lift the top lid of the AeroGarden, which hold the seed and the plants. Obviously you need to be very cautious, not to damage any existing plants. After that just trim the roots, but don’t cut them back to far. Just make sure that the roots don’t interfere with the parts of your AeroGarden.
Another important part of the maintenance is to clean the whole system after you’re done growing and harvesting.
I still haven’t done that, but I found a lot of good tutorials online that explain it in detail. First to start is to remove all of the plants and roots and get everything out of there, except for the water left in the basin. For the water removal it’s best to use a siphon pump. It is the most effective way to empty the water. Before start siphoning, shut down the unit or unplug it, so you won’t damage the pump.
When the basin is empty, it’s time to clear the pump’s filter. Take out the screws that cover the pump and pick up the pump. It depends what you grow, but most probably you’ll have a lot of roots that got into the pump’s filter. After you cleaned all of the roots, reinsert it back. The next step it would be to run the cleaning solution. I see vinegar solution is best recommended. Add 5 cups vinegar and 5 cups water, put back the cover and run the unit for 5 minutes. This way it’ll cycle the cleaning solution through all the parts. After that siphon the solution and add clean water, circulate the water for a while and make sure nothing is left of the cleaning material. This way everything will be clean and ready for your next planting.
Other AeroGarden products
The AeroGarden Ultra LED type is the most popular product of the company, but I also want to mention a few other products that are on the top of the selling list.
Miracle Gro AeroGarden Bounty
One of the latest models, it has more seed pots and a more sophisticated technology.
The size of the AeroGarden Bounty is the same as the Ultra one and the pole also extends up to 24 inches. The Bounty type does have a larger surface area, which gives more space for plants to grow. However, it has 9 seed pods, which is not necessarily a plus. The reason for this is that you’ll end up using same amount of pods as the Ultra, which doesn’t add any value.
The vibrant touchscreen is the star of this model. Aesthetically it really looks cool and technologically it has an updated software that offers tons of features and tips for the user.
Miracle Grow AeroGarden Sprout
The AeroGarden Sprout is really a great feature for everyone who wants to get into hydroponics. It’s smaller, easier, it has the same features that will produce the same quality and at the same time is cheaper. It is the perfect feature for beginners.
AeroGarden Sprout has only 3 seed pods, but the performance is the same as you can get with the other types. It also has LED lights, but vertically it extends only 10 inches. The control panel it’s easy to use with automatically turning lights and water and nutrients reminder. It’s a smaller and simpler version.
These 2 are the smallest and the largest products of Miracle Gro AeroGarden. There are also other types with different sizes, seed pods or a control panel. More or less it gives you the same quality, so it’s up to you to choose which is most suitable for your home. You can get all of them on Amazon.
The only thing I want to recommend is to buy only the models with LED lights, not the Classic with CFL grow lights. The CFL lights are cheaper, but their longevity is shorter, they use more power and the LED lights have bigger impact on the growth than the CFL. They’re only cheaper on the short term, the LED light give you more pay off.
We did some research before we purchased our AeroGarden and didn’t find many producers in this industry. So far it’s safe to say that AeroGarden is the leading brand that produces indoor gardens with hydroponics system.
The company name is AeroGrow and it’s based in Boulder, Colorado. They launched their first product in 2006 and so far they’ve sold over a million products. Until 2008 they had one model, but since than they’re continuously expanding. Their products differ in size, seed pods (3, 6, 7 and 9 pods), Grow lights, control system, preferences and also you have them available in more than 20 different colors.
The good thing that I see is they’re always updating. You can notice some of the basic modes from the start and see how much they’ve gone through since then. I can’t not noticing that they fixed the flaws that appeared in the earlier models, which gives me confidence that this brand is on the right track. The AeroGarden Bounty was unimaginable 10 years ago, so I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up next. Also it’s substantial to mention that AeroGarden products are NASA proven technology and it has been tested for growing plants in space.
Guarantee and Value
Beside the one year warranty and 30 day return policy, you get a guarantee that your seed pods will germinate. Meaning, if the seed pod fails to germinate after 3 weeks of planting, you’ll get a free replacement.
For me the Miracle Gro AeroGarden Ultra is really worth the value. Nowadays I consider it as a part of my kitchen equipment. It takes my need to go to the farmer’s market or grocery store.
I consider this item suitable for every area, whether you live in the city or the suburbs, as well for every season. It’s mostly because of its simplicity. The AeroGarden produces fresh herbs and vegetables, in the same time requiring minimal maintaining effort. And the time you spend taking care of it, really takes of your stress from everyday life. Beside households, it’s great for classrooms and senior living environments.
So far I’m really satisfied, in a few months I’m considering to get one more and have it in my living room. I hope you enjoyed this AeroGarden review. If you want to purchase it , go on Amazon.com and get the model that suits you the most.
For any questions feel free to ask me in the comment section.