Friday, February 26, 2010

Blech--a rough patch (literally) in the tomatoes

I've been harvesting tomatoes pretty regularly. It's not a huge harvest, maybe one or two every two weeks. But still, there's something to be said about growing fresh vegetables in one's living room.

I had a rude awakening this week. Two of my tomatoes looked like this.

When I cut the tomato open, it looked like this (blech!)

Naturally, the first thing I thought of was that bugs had gotten into the Aerogarden. But to my relief, after a few searches on Google I realized that this is something called blossom end rot.

It's a natural disorder caused by a calcium deficiency. According to Colorado State University, it can be caused by a "combination of cold temperatures or excessive heat during blossom set, and fluctuations in water supply". This makes sense--the heating in my living room is not the greatest, so the Aerogarden has probably been subject to extreme cold with all the snow we've had this winter. Also, there are times I do let the water supply get too low. Finally, I have been using Aerogarden liquid nutrients for herbs--perhaps they don't have the same calcium content needed for tomatoes.

Anyway, I'm fixing all three elements, and we'll see how it goes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Aerogarden Replacement Parts

For those of you who've owned Aerogardens for a while, you may have hit a situation where your  Aerogarden is sitting unused because it's missing a part. The good news is, the Aerogarden Store stocks replacement parts for any Aerogarden, new or old. Whether you need new bulbs or a new pump or even a replacement for any part of your garden, you can get it there.

Here are the replacement parts I find most useful. Most of these are available on the AeroGarden Store under "Accessories", but a lot of them can be purchased on Amazon as well.

1) Liquid Nutrients - Aerogarden's liquid nutrients are patented and really very good from a scientific basis, and their partnership with Miracle Gro is only going to help. Look to Amazon to purchase their official nutrients, or consider experimenting with one of the many alternatives that may save you money.

2) Replacement Bulbs - Again, you'll find the full-priced bulbs on Aerogarden's site, but check out this post for possible alternatives.

3) Seed Pods - has the full set of Seed Kits, but you can find some on Amazon as well.

4) Replacement Pumps - If you have an older Aerogarden, chances are you've had a pump that ended up breaking, either because the pump itself gave out from gunk getting into it, or by corrosion of the metal contacts. With the new Aerogarden ULTRA, Aerogarden has finally re-engineered it so that water doesn't come in contact with the metal parts (duh), but if you have an old pump, chances are you'll need to get a new one. The Aerogarden Store is your best bet for one of those.

5) Replacement Arms - Sadly, while Aerogarden catalog once had replacement arms, hoods, and bowls for every unit, they don't seem to sell those anymore. Your best bet is going to be to write to customer service to ask, or to check eBay for people selling parts or units you can get parts from.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tomato Fried Eggs

My biggest harvest of the Aerogarden Tomatoes happened today.

 I was racking my brains to think of what to cook, and my thoughts turned to a quick dish my mom used to make called "Tomato Fried Eggs". This is a fairly traditional Asian dish, mainly reserved for those times when you don't have more than 7 minutes to put together a hearty and tasty meal for yourself or your family.

You start out by chopping the tomatoes. Check out how juicy they are!

Then, you fry up some eggs.

After that, you fry up your tomatoes.

Then you put it all together. 

Mix it up. 

Add salt and pepper and you have yourself a tasty and healthy meal that is phenomenal over rice. 

This is a dish that's way too simple and quick to find in restaurants, but for my money there are few comfort foods that are so tasty and good for you too. 

I see other tomatoes on the vine, so I'll keep trying to come up with more recipes!