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Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. It uses water and minerals to grow nutritious and healthy plants of different kinds. Plants that are grown in hydroponics systems often grow much more quickly than more traditionally grown plants, too. There are many hydroponics systems out there, and this Miracle Gro Aerogarden review will introduce you to one of the most popular and widely available choices and help you decide if it is right for you.
The Aerogarden by Miracle Gro is a hydroponics system that enables people to grow fresh herbs, veggies, flowers, and even fruits right on their countertop. These systems come with everything you need and are extremely easy to assemble.
Why Grow Plants with a Hydroponics System?
Hydroponics is awesome because on average, plants grow anywhere from 30-50% faster than other growing methods. If you are growing herbs or veggies, this means more food for you to enjoy more often.
There are a couple reasons why it is faster. First, there is more oxygen available to the root systems of the plants in a hydroponics system. Second, the water and nutrients can be delivered straight to the root system without the “middle man” of the soil.
Another reason to grow plants with hydroponics is that it uses less water to grow plants and the water is being continuously cycled through the system. If you are concerned with saving water, this is a huge pro. There is also no topsoil erosion concerns with hydroponics.
A third reason to choose hydroponics is that fewer pesticides are needed (and often none, especially if your hydroponics system is an indoor system).
Many studies show produce grown hydroponically to be more nutritious than organic soil grown produce. There is also no risk of bacterial contamination, such as E. Coli.
Lastly, hydroponics systems enable so much more produce to be grown locally, which is better for the environment and our health. Produce that gets shipped in loses nutrients each day that it isn’t eaten. The beauty of hydroponics at home is that you can harvest your crop and enjoy it at its peak!
There are some cons to a hydroponics system, too. They can be expensive to buy and can be high-maintenance for a beginner. However, Miracle Gro really made it easy for anybody to embark on hydroponics, beginners included.
Aerogarden Models and Features
The Aerogarden comes in 5 different types of models, but even within the different models, there are different versions. There are so many models to choose from! All of them come with the LED grow lights needed.
The smallest model is the Herbie. It only holds 2 pods and is geared toward children ages 6 and up. It comes with an activity booklet to take the kids on some sort of “adventure.” It is also the cheapest model, so if you’re just hoping to grow a couple different herbs, or if you do know a child that would love to grow their own food, it would be a decent choice.
The next model is the Sprout which holds 3 pods. I think this would be more practical than the Herbie if you aren’t planning on giving it to a child. It is a narrow model that would be great for those that don’t have a lot of counter space. Even though it is narrow, there is still plenty of room to let your plants grow tall with the adjustable light.
The Harvest is the mid-size model that holds 6 pods. It comes in a number of different styles, so it is worth taking a look to see which shape you would prefer. There is a slim style, a 360 (round) style, various colors…you can tell that this model is one of the more popular versions.
The Bounty (the model I have) is the second largest model and it holds 9 pods. It also has the biggest and most interactive display panel. It comes enabled with or without WiFi. The Bounty has a flap in one corner that allows you to easily add plant food and water without messing with the plants.
The Farm is the largest model. It holds 24 pods, so it is a great option for those committed to hydroponics growing and want the ease of use Aerogarden offers. While the smallest version of the Farm model could sit on a countertop, it is probably a bit bigger than most people would want to sacrifice counter space for. You will want a different space for it.
Aerogarden Seed Pods
The Aerogarden can grow over 50 different varieties of plants! It’s pretty incredible. All the Aerogarden seed pods are non-GMO. You can buy seed pod kits in the number you need for your model for salad greens like bok choy, swiss chard, kale, romaine, red & green bibb lettuce, as well as other veggies like tomatoes & peppers, and many varieties of herbs like basil, chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill, lavender, mint, oregano, rosemary, and much more!
You can also buy empty pods to put your own seeds into, too.
For a beginner, I recommend herbs or salad greens. Salad greens are rewarding for a beginner because they grow so quickly. Herbs are also a great choice because they’re low-maintenance and are fun to add to your cooking.
There are also fun kits you can buy for something specific, such as the Salsa Garden kit which grows tomatoes and hot peppers.
Amazon has a great selection, far more than what I have listed below. Amazon often has coupons that can be applied to the product at checkout, too.
If you visit the Aerogarden website, their online store allows you to make some customized kits.
Why Did I Choose the Miracle Gro Aerogarden?
I chose an Aerogarden because I am not a gardening expert. I still call my mom with questions every year as I plan my outdoor garden and get it planted. Gardening is also not my favorite hobby or chore. I love the rewards I reap from it, though, so I muster through it, but I do not find it as relaxing or enjoyable as some. However, my level of enjoyment has grown a little more each summer as I’ve grown better at it. It’s easier to like something when it doesn’t overwhelm you. 🙂
I also had zero experience with hydroponics, and an Aerogarden looked to be the best choice for a beginner.
Here are some other reasons I wanted an Aerogarden:
One: I was tired of throwing out lettuce from the numerous recalls due to e. Coli we had this past year.
Two: I wanted to focus on eating more food that was grown locally. It is better for both the environment and our health. I love utilizing the farmers market in the summer on top of my own gardening.
However, I live in Minnesota where we have long winters. I wanted a way to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce even in the snowiest months. Hydroponics seemed like the answer for me.
Three: I wanted fresh herbs easily accessible to me throughout the winter. They are very expensive to buy at the store and when they wilt before I can use them all up, I get frustrated at the waste.
Four: I love that no pesticides are needed for home hydroponics systems. Organic produce can be so expensive at the grocery store, and I would really love to become more self-reliant in that regard.
Because of the above reasons, my research led me to hydroponics, and then to the Miracle Gro Aerogarden. I researched several systems (including DIY systems), but ultimately the Aerogarden seemed like the best choice to get me started.
As frugal as I can be, I was leaning toward starting with a DIY system, but I’m glad I didn’t. I do have a goal of greatly expanding my hydroponics gardening and may do some DIY down the road, but I am glad I chose the Aerogarden first to really teach me what I need to do to successfully garden hydroponically. It’s perfectly set up for beginners to have success.
Here is a short video showing you my Aerogarden in action!
My Experience with the Aerogarden
I received my Aerogarden on Christmas morning as a gift from my husband (he’s the best!) He got me the Bounty Wi-Fi, which is one of the larger models offered with 9-pod capability. I immediately opened it up and started reading the manual.
I assembled it completely myself in about 10-minutes. That’s saying something. I don’t remember the last time I successfully assembled something myself without significant frustration and calling my husband over to do it for me. We got it set up with the help of Aerogarden’s Quick Start guide on the touch screen. Then, I put in my pods–I chose to do 6 lettuce pods, 1 basil, 1 chive, and 1 Italian parsley.
That was it! Then I just needed to wait. I loved watching my adorable little lettuce grow more and more each day.
What I love about my Aerogarden is that my touchscreen tells me when I need to add water, when it’s time for minerals, gives me tips randomly, automates my lights for me…it really makes it easy for someone who was completely new to hydroponics to have a great experience.
I had one lettuce pod not germinate. I contacted Aerogarden’s customer service after about 2 weeks and was told I needed to wait at least 3 weeks before they would do anything about it. Well, it was still defective at 3 weeks, so I contacted them again at that point. It took me a couple days to hear back from them, but they did get a new seed pod out in the mail for me.
I was pleased with customer service’s response, but it could have been a little quicker.
One thing I did notice online is that some people complain of their touchscreen not working once they get it assembled and they had to get it replaced. This is not an issue we had, thankfully.
My experience with the Aerogarden has me excited to grow my hobby of hydroponics further. Believe me, I have BIG PLANS for this…but we need to move first as my space is limited in our current house.
In the future, I will likely get a bigger and more advanced system so I have the capabilities to grow more produce at one time. I love the idea of being able to give away fresh produce to friends and neighbors, too. I am interested in getting the Farm model someday. I really have appreciated how easy Aerogarden has made hydroponics for me, so I have no desire to switch brands other than being willing to keep my options open.
I also still plan to garden outdoors this summer, too. While you can grow many types of fruits and veggies in a hydroponics system, it’s not suitable for everything, such as potatoes which do better with traditional growing methods.
How Much of Our Vegetable Intake Is This Supplementing?
How much the Aerogarden yields depends on what exactly you are growing and how much you eat when you have a serving of veggies. Lettuce grows quickly. My husband and I eat big servings and try to fill half our dinner plates with a salad (if it is a side salad and not a meal), not little 1/2 cup salads or something, so keep that in mind.
Also, my children don’t eat much lettuce. My youngest is still too young (it can be a choking hazard for small kids) and my oldest is getting a little more interested in salads, but still isn’t eating much yet.
You are supposed to harvest 1/3 of the plant at one time, though sometimes I do a little more than that and it has seemed to fare fine. With 5-pods of lettuce growing (because the 6th did not germinate and I just now replanted it), we get enough for about one big salad as a meal per week, or enough for side salads for my husband and I about twice a week. This photo is my first salad harvested from my Aerogarden Bounty.
For the herbs, I am growing much more than I could really use, so no issues there. I will have to start drying some out, I think!
We are really happy with our Aerogarden Bounty. I’m also glad my husband got me the 9-pod model because I love growing a decent amount of lettuce at one time along with a few herbs for good measure. I think I would have been dissatisfied with the smaller models, but it all depends on what you want to grow and how much of it you think you need.
I recommend the Aerogarden for anyone that meets the following criteria:
- Has an interest in hydroponics
- Loves gardening (or at least loves the benefits and rewards of gardening, like me!)
- Has a desire to eat healthier produce that is locally grown
- Wants an easy indoor gardening system
- Is a beginner to hydroponics
The Aerogarden is not for you if:
- You will ignore notifications to add water or plant food (but the WiFi capabilities of my Bounty model make that hard to do with reminders right to my phone)
- If bright LED growing lights will bother you (they are on for about 16 hours a day)
- You eat out a lot and don’t think you would utilize what you grow
- You are only interested in growing plants that are difficult to grow in an Aerogarden, like root vegetables
As far as comparable products, there are lots of hydroponics systems available on the market, but not many that come as complete systems in such a manageable size with everything you need to get started. This is definitely the choice for beginners, and it is priced accordingly.
I found that Amazon’s sale price for the Bounty is cheaper than the sale price on Aerogarden’s website, though prices can change at any time, and each model varies. Amazon is where my husband purchased our model, and he did so for a lot less than anywhere else (or so he says!)
Have you tried hydroponics growing before? Would you give the Aerogarden a try? Let me know in the comments!