Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year, New Indoor Gardens

So, it's been a while since I had all three of my Aerogardens going. With the first day of winter happening four days ago, I figured, what better time to plant my gardens again?

I actually took advantage of some Special Offers that AeroGrow was offering over Christmas. I ended up ordering a few things from them: a new set of grow lights and three seed kits.

For the sale, I had to choose from their pre-packaged (non-custom) kits. I've always wanted to try growing lavender, so that was the first kit I ordered. In all honesty, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with lavender if it grows, but it's just something I've always wanted to grow ever since taking a trip to Washington.

I also wanted herb kits, of course, but I'm not a huge fan of their selection--while their Gourmet Herb Seed Kit (6/7-Pod) used to contain herbs I use like cilantro, parsley, and sage, now it contains things I never use like dill and lemon basil. And of course, if you look back on this blog you'll see that I pretty much exhausted things you can do with mint.

It's then when I remembered that years ago I'd ordered a (non-Aerogarden) herb kit that I never used. I looked through my stuff and surely enough, I found a couple bags of seed I never used.

I ended up getting two of the Grow Anything 1-Season Kit (6/7-Pod). Will my seeds still grow after all these years? That's the million dollar question. Supposedly, seeds will last for years and years when stored in dry and temperate conditions (I had inadvertently stored mine in the perfect conditions, as I dug them up under piles and piles of clutter). The seeds I had happened to be ones I use: basil, parsley, thyme, and oregano. I had chive seeds too, which I don't use too much.

And so I figured I'd do the experiment of the century: could the Aerogarden Grow Anything kit grow herbs seeds that I'd given up for lost? We'll see in a few weeks.

The Grow Anything kit was pretty impressive. I was wondering--why should I pay the same amount ($17.95) for a kit that has NO seeds as I would for a kit that HAS seeds? The answer wasn't clear on their Web site, but was clear as soon as I opened the package.

The kit comes with 7 empty plastic baskets. They're supposed to be split-apart baskets for easy transplanting later, but the ones I got were definitely in one piece.

They also come with grow sponges, which have the look and consistency of soil much more than I remember. They have a little indentation on the top into which you can drop your seeds. And of course, they have those plastic "grow domes" that you put over the seeds as they're germinating.

They also come with 16 5.5mL nutrient packages and 9 8mL packets. That's a lot more than comes with a standard seed kit (my lavender kit only had 8 8mL packets). So for the same price, instead of seeds, they basically make up the difference by including 8 more weeks of feeding.

My silver Aerogarden was still clean and the brass contacts weren't too corroded on the pump or the arm yet, so the pump still worked.

I took a seed bag and generously poured seeds into the grow pods.

I figured I'd load up the seeds--this way there's a better chance of one sprouting, and if all of them sprout, I'll just prune them down to one or two plants.

I put all seven seed pods in (one parsley, two thyme, two oregano, and two basils). I turned on the unit and most of the pods were soaking up the water.

I saw most because I noticed the two pods on the extremely left and right of the unit weren't.

The problem seems to be with the design of the pods. While they're supposedly compatible with all Aerogarden units, my old 7-pod classic clearly didn't like the longer length of the newer seed pods (which work find in newer Aerogardens).

So, I decided to take out the seed pods on the edges (a basil and an oregano) and save them for some other time. I found some old Plant Spacers to put in their place.

The package also comes with labels you put on top of the baskets. The instructions actually said that to affix the labels to the plastic baskets, you should use a hot iron! I had no inclination to burn myself or some hot plastic with an iron, so I decided to just place the label on top and put the grow dome over it (it is important to use the label to regulate the light that gets to the grow dome).

So, we'll see if I have herb plants in a few weeks, or just some moist grow sponges (in which case I'll plan on reusing them and buying some seeds from my local gardening store.

In other news, I planted the lavender plants too.

This was a lot easier and more straightforward than the Grow Anything kit. I just had to pop it into one of my old black Aerogardens, which thankfully was also clean and working.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We have Chili Peppers!

For those of who who follow this blog, no, I haven't forgotten about you (or my indoor garden). It's just that my chili plants seemed to be taking forever to grow chilis. Of course, it didn't help that I constantly forgot to water them :P

Happily, my Aerogarden Extra (formerly known as my VeggiePro) is raised all the way to the top with the two remaining chili plants.

In fact, the two plants had grown so much that I had to chop off the entire top, which was growing into the grow lights. The result was this lovely bouquet, suitable for a blushing bride.

Lo and behold, after what seems like an eternity, there are some beautiful peppers on the tree like Christmas lights. Here's a bunch of them.

Here's an especially pretty one: to look for some chili recipes. Anyone have any suggestions?