Saturday, October 4, 2014

Alternative to Aerogarden's Rinse and Refill Siphon

It's now been over a week since I planted the "new" plants from Aerogarden, and I don't see one speck of green. I fear that yet again, what Aerogrow calls "dormant" plants is really just a bunch of dried out twigs with no life in them. I'll give it a few more days before calling them, but they really, really need to work on their quality control. In the meantime, the one plant that is growing is still doing well.

I've had to refill the water tank a few times. It's a little tricky, because you definitely don't want to fill it when the pump is running, but even when the pump is off you need to be careful to keep slightly below the fill line, or you'll get water all over (and who knows, this might short out the ULTRA yet again).

One phenomenon you notice very quickly when growing Aerogarden Strawberries (or anything in the Grow Bowl) is that the more the bowl fills up and drains with water the gunkier the water gets. Here's a picture of how brown the water is after 2-3 weeks of filling and draining.

Even in a regular Aerogarden, the water can get really gunky and disgusting. And it's a pain to drain the water, especially when the plants are huge and the roots are heavy. As I've shown you in the past, you need to carry the whole thing to the sink, gently lift the plants off without breaking the roots, drain the water, refill it, and set everything back.

Aerogarden does suggest you siphon it and drain it (and conveniently, they sell a product called the "Rinse and Refill Siphon". While I'm usually a big fan of Aerogarden's products (I bought everything from an Oxygen Booster Kit to a Herb 'n Serve Salad Dressing Maker to a Master Chef Herb Guide to ice trays), the Amazon reviews for the Rinse and Refill Siphon are not very promising. They use words like cheap, flimsy, air leaks, and others.

One reviewer very helpfully posted a link for alternatives to Rinse and Refill Siphon in the Automotive department. Admittedly, there's a part of me that feels more comfortable ordering Aerogarden-branded products (which is why I'm their perfect customer--for years I didn't think twice about ordering a light bulb for $12 until I realized there were alternatives).

In this case, I took the reviewer's advice and ended up buying this TRDP14 Siphon Manual Hand Liquid Transfer Pump based on its great reviews.

For $4 shipped, it was a lot more economical than the $12.95 Aerogrow wanted. I tried it out and it worked like a charm.

First, you need to get a bucket, or in my case a gallon milk container. Next, you close the screw valve on top of squeeze bulb. Put the end of the long straight white tube into the place where you fill the Aerogarden with water.

Next, give a few squeezes until the liquid is flowing. Assuming you're holding the pump at the right angle, gravity will take over and the water will flow from the Aerogarden through the flexible tube into your bucket.

Slurp up as much of the water until it's empty. At any point you want to stop (say, if your bucket is getting full), you can open the twist valve to break the siphon, stopping the flow.

Use care removing the siphon device, giving time for the remaining liquid to drain out of both tubes. Last thing you want is for brown gunky water to get all over the place.

Finally, you can dump your old water into the sink or toilet and refill your Aerogarden with fresh water and nutrients.

I'd highly, highly suggest getting this product instead of the one that Aerogrow sells, as it's cheaper, easier to handle. I was debating whether to get the smaller red one of the bigger blue one, but for purposes of the Aerogarden the red one is perfect.

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