Sunday, August 8, 2010

Indoor Gardener: The 2010 Reboot (Part 1)

Seems that "reboots" are all the rage these days. Hollywood's brought back everyone from Batman to Captain Kirk. This fall, you'll be able to see Danno book 'em again on Hawaii Five-O, and Jim Rockford open up his files again. There's even chatter about a "CHiPs" reboot. What I wouldn't give to see a tubby Ponch and a gumpy old Jon climbing upon their Kawasakis again. Of course, Erik Estrada seems busy hocking real estate on informercials, and Larry Wilcox is the CEO of a mining company. but one can dream, can't one?

Anyway, for those of you who've grown tired of seeing that ladybug on the blog since March 21, get ready for a whole new indoor garden blog. I'll be starting over with a brand new herb garden and a brand new tomato garden.

By the way, if you're wondering what happened to the tomatoes, here's what the VeggiePro looked like on June 6.

At its peak I'd been getting a few small tomatoes every week, but the yield was getting smaller and smaller, and I was out of nutrient tablets. The plant was getting a bit unwieldy, and the water in the basin was getting a little nasty. So I figured it'd be a good time to retire this crop.

Step one was detaching the trellisses that were keeping the plants up. Here's what it looked like.

Needless to say, trellises are a must-have when growing any kind of veggies in your Aerogarden.

Step two was removing the one remaining seed pod.

The stalks were thick and the roots were impressive as always. I suppose if I had an outside garden, I could have transplanted it outside and have seen the plant grow to its full potential--even though Aerogrow said these would be "full size tomatoes", they never quite got bigger than very large cherry tomatoes, probably due to never having quite the amount of space and nutrients that outdoor plants have. So my dream of reliving my glory teenage years of harvesting gigantic "Burpee Big Boy Tomatoes" will have to wait until I buy a house with a yard, I guess.

And so how would I summarize my tomato experience? I'd say good and bad. I ended up being able to harvest some fresh tomatoes indoors, but certainly not full-size nor extreme amounts. Still, it was convenient being able to reach for the VeggiePro when I needed a fresh tomato for a salad or sandwich and didn't want to have to go to the supermarket to get one.

The next step was using warm water and dish soap to clean the unit inside and out. There was a lot of white residue from the nutrient tablets to scrub off, but after a few minutes of washing, the unit looked just like new again. And so the VeggiePro was ready again to take on a new crop. But I ended up going on various business trips in July, so I figured I'd plant the new crop when I return.

I figured I'd plant herbs in the VeggiePro this time and just let them grow really, really tall. But yesterday at my local Bed Bath and Beyond, I noticed they were selling some aging cherry tomato kits on clearance. And so, I decided to give tomatoes a second go, but this time going with the cherry tomatoes instead of the Ruby Heirloom tomatoes.

And so, strap on your seatbelts. We're going to start indoor gardening again, planting cherry tomatoes in the VeggiePro (which I notice Aerogarden's marketing department, which can't ever seem to settle on a name for their extra-tall Aerogardens, has renamed the "Aerogarden Extra"), and setting up one of my old 7-pod Aerogarden Classics to once again grow herbs.

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