Thursday, August 20, 2009

Buying a Replacement Aerogarden Arm

My two black Aerogarden units are now a few years old. One of the things I noticed about them is that on the arm, crud is forming on the metal contacts that connect them to the pump on the base.

Crud, of course is the technical term for oxidation. Copper oxide is formed when oxygen molecules and copper interact. I tried scraping it off, and using all kinds of abrasive tools, which just resulted in me ruining the arm by bending the metal contacts.

After a little research on the Web, I learned (a bit too late of course) that there are proper ways to clean oxidation when it happens and to prevent oxidation from happening in the first place.

To clean oxidation, you just need a solution of baking soda and warm water to make a paste. Cover the oxidized contacts, wipe it off after a while, and then polish with a wire brush.

To prevent it, you just need to coat the terminals with Vaseline.

Of course, it's too late for me, but luckily, on Aerogrow's site, they have replacement arms for a reasonable price. A less well-engineered system would have had you throwing away the whole thing, but with Aerogardens, you can replace any of these pieces:

Black Replacement Arm

To buy a replacement arm, just go to The AeroGarden Store. You can get the arm in the color of your Aerogarden unit, whether Black, Silver, or White (unfortunately Aerogarden seems to have removed these from their catalog, but it's still worth contacting their customer service if you need one.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aerogarden Snowpeas: Epic Fail!

Well, we gave it the ol' college try, but at the end, the snowpeas gave in. This is what the replacement snowpea pod I got last month looked like on July 28:

As you can see, it was doing okay, but its neighbors were not looking too happy. I wrote to Aerogarden again, and again, the customer service could not have been nicer. She sent me five new replacement pods, and they came within days.

I planted all the new pods on August 4. Alas, here's what they looked like on August 15.

The first replacement pod is all but completely wilted, and none of the new snowpeas came in, except for one which is struggling. The rest look kind of icky and moldy like this:

The customer service rep explained to me that they were discontinuing the snowpeas because of a high failure rate. I'm not sure what it was, maybe the ambient temperature in the room, maybe just less-than-stellar product design and testing on the part of Aerogarden, but it seems that I was destined never to have more snowpeas than the one or two wimpy snowpeas I got.
So, it was a valiant effort and I'm glad I tried it, but at the end of the day it seems that the Aerogarden is still best at what it was originally designed for: herbs. I placed a new custom order for herbs and I'll be planting an all new garden with an all-new set of herbs shortly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Amazing Aerogarden Basil

Yes, I can't grow snowpeas in the Aerogarden to save my life, my cherry tomato adventure was a disappointment, and the other herbs pale in comparison, but the Aerogarden has been nothing short of spectacular with basil. I would say over the year, at least one unit has already paid for itself when I compare the amount of fresh basil I harvested alone versus what it'd cost me to buy individual packets in a supermarket.

While I've been on the Nutrisystem diet for a while, today on date night with the lovely Lisa, we decided to cook a feast. It started by harvesting a big bunch of basil, which of course once again had grown and towered over its neighbors.

I had a fresh bottle of Spanish olive oil, courtesy of my cousin Shauna.

The first step was to make an insalata caprese appetizer. The tomato is a fresh Jersey tomato that Lisa got from someone at work. We bought the mozzarella at the local H-Mart. Put a couple basil leaves on, drizzle on some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and we had a delightful, super-duper fresh and very yummy treat.

For the main course, we decided to make Spicy Basil Chicken from a highly rated recipe on AllRecipes.Com. We followed the recipe precisely, using portabello mushrooms not not being stingy with the peppers. Here was the crowning moment when we mixed the fresh basil in.

The taste was out of this world, heavenly over white rice. It was even better when we were storing away the leftovers a few hours later and the flavors had a chance to sit and mix.