Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome to the jungle!

(with apologies to Guns N' Roses)

That's right, the two tomato plants are officially gigantic now. The VeggiePro is officially extended all the way it goes. I have still been pruning the parts of the plants that grow outside the grow light area, and I'm now filling the water up about once every two days; the plants are drinking up the water that quickly. I just added two more nutrient tablets too, and of course I'm pollinating the flowers every couple of days too.

So the burning question is...are there tomatoes? Well, take a look:

In total, I count about 10 tomatoes so far on the plant. The biggest two are slightly bigger than cherry tomato size, well on their way of being full-grown heirloom tomato size. There are about five in this picture alone.

Unfortunately, all is not well. I notice there are a LOT of flowers that simply grow weak and fall off. I'm a bit confused as to why this is happening.

Still, as long as I have some flowers that stay on the vine and grow into tomatoes, I'll be satisfied.

One very nice thing about the VeggiePro is that it comes complete with a trellis system, something that previously had been an additional cost. The Trellis system is basically two pieces of plastic you connect to the top of the unit (conveniently, the screws are already there, you just slip the plastic on and tighten the screws).

Here's what it looks like when it's complete:

The system comes with a retractable cord with a plastic snap on the end. Here, you can see me holding up the large plant with one of the cords. As the tomatoes grow larger, this will hopefully stop the plant from snapping and collapsing from the tomatoes' weight.

Not sure how much longer before I'll have tasty tomatoes to enjoy, but you'll be the first to know! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Special Deal at Aerogarden.Com

If you've been on the fence about buying an Aerogarden, there's a great deal going on. But you have to be quick--the deal ends at the end of the day Monday

It's called 33% off 3 Gardens, 3 Days Only, and it'll let you purchase

Aerogarden 3 Elite for $79.95 ($50 off)

Aerogarden 6 Elite for $119.95 ($60 off)

Aerogarden Classic (7 pod) for $99.95 ($50 off)

These are probably among the cheapest prices you'll find on the Web for a brand new Aerogarden (Amazon is about $30-$50 more). All the units, of course, come with an herb kit. Great time to stock up for Christmas presents--there are few better presents you can get for the gardener or chef in your life

In other news, interesting developments with my tomatoes. I'll post an update soon! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Aerogarden Liquid Nutrients - Coming soon to an Aerogarden near you

2010 Update: Liquid Nutrients are now available in the Aerogarden Store

While I was corresponding with Aerogarden about the slow start of my tomatoes, John at Aerogarden was kind enough to write to me directly. He gave me some good advice that sometimes cold temperature can affect how quickly the seeds germinate and sprout. I expressed that I was still concerned at the very slow start of my second tomato plant, and he was gracious enough to send me a new seed pod (although, as he predicted, I wouldn't need it, as the second plant finally did grow to be strong, albeit several weeks after it probably should have).

John was also kind enough to include in the shipment something a sneak peek into to something neat that Aerogrow is working on. I think it'll will be a huge improvement when it's officially released (he said it'd be sometime in November).

These are new Aerogarden liquid nutrients.
For those of you who have had multiple Aerogardens like me, you'll know that the nutrient tablets, while cool in a "plop plop fizz fizz" kind of way, do have their drawacks. Opening the packets can be difficult, sometimes the tablets crumble inside the packets because of excessive moisture, sometimes the tablets don't seem to dissolve evenly enough, and often, you can see white specks in and around the Aerogarden unit from the residue of the dust.

I'll show you a demonstration of the liquid nutrients, with the disclaimer that it's not clear when these will be available on the Aerogarden store (may be as early as later this month). But they're so cool I wanted to give you a sneak peek.

The packets sort of look like duck sauce packets that you might find in a Chinese restaurant. Inside is a brown liquid which I assume contains the same rich nutrients found in the tablet.

When the two week "Add Nutrient" light add us, instead of using the tablets, I'd instead open a packet and pour the contents in.

Voila, that's it. Helped by the water pump inside, the nutrients spread evenly throughout the bowl. It's quicker, easier, and more effective.

So look out for these in the coming months on the Aerogarden store. I'll also post a link on this blog once they're available.

One interesting development this week. While I was shaking the first big tomato plant to pollinate it, I was disappointed to see one of the yellow flowers fly off. That is, until I looked more closely at the plant where the flower fell off!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomato Flowers on the VeggiePro!

Looks like the first plant is making some real progress. Over the last week, a bunch of flowers sprouted. In total, I count about 20 of them!

Now, as far as whether they'll actually turn into 20 tomatoes, that's something we'll find out in time. But following the instructions in the manual, I dutifully shook the stalks to pollinate them. Something I learned with my cherry tomatoes many moons ago was to not only shake them, but to use my finger to "tap" the thickest part of the stalk where the flowers are growing from.

The VeggiePro is definitely gulping up the water--I need to refill the reservoir every couple of days now, and I'm still pruning leaves that grow too far outside the light. The plants are tall and aren't stopping. I'd say it's probably a few more days before I lift the lamp arm one more notch.

Anyway, just wanted to update you on the progress. More soon.