Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First Nutrients Added. Also: Why isn't the Airstone in the AeroGarden 6 Working: Day 14

So, right on time the AeroGarden Ultra is reminding me, in no uncertain terms, to add nutrients.

Interestingly, they give you the option of adding them now, or hitting a snooze button of sorts to put it off until tomorrow. I decided to go ahead and add them now. For the herb gardens, I just need to use up the 8 ml packets of liquid nutrients. As someone who's been using the AeroGarden from the early days, I have to say I really prefer these liquid nutrients over the old chalky tablets they used to have. Although I have to say, I still wish there was a better way--it's a pain to cut the nutrient packet, have plastic all over the place, and not be able to get all the nutrients out of the packet. Perhaps one day I'll invest in their Liquid Nutrient Syringe (3-pk) and 1 quart bottle of Liquid Nutrients to make the nutrient process cleaner, but in the meantime I'll use up the free ones they give me with the seed packets.

After emptying the pouch and clicking OK, this message showed up:

Good tip; even though the water was still close to the fill line, I took some fresh water and mixed it in to clean the nutrients off the plastic and to make sure the water was at the fill line. Because you're only seeing a corner of the AeroGarden, remember that it'll take more water than you probably think to to get it back to the fill line.

After pressing OK, I noticed I had yet another tip! Here's what it said:

Again, this was an interesting tip. It was a good reminder that the portions they dole out from feeding to feeding are specifically designed to be the right amount of nutrients for the plants. Thinking you can put extra nutrients to make the plants grow faster is somewhat like feeding a baby twenty bottles of milk a night and thinking he'll grow into an adult faster. Doesn't work that way :) 

So far, the Aerogarden Ultra is doing spectacularly. Here's what it looks like today. If you compare the progress this go-around with my previous herb plantings, you'll notice that the plants are growing faster and taller than before. I do think the improved design of the AeroGarden Ultra is helping, not to mention the fact that I didn't delay before planting the seeds. 

In other news, here's an update on the tomato plants in my old AeroGarden VeggiePro (this was basically the AeroGarden Extra with 6 seed pods instead of 7). 

I actually did look up a previous post after writing my last blog post, and I sadly had to prune two healthy growing seedlings in each pod. 

As before, it really feels like a shame to chop down two perfectly good seedlings, but if you don't do that then none of them will grow very well. By trimming it down to one, you can assure that the one strongest seedling will have plenty of room and nutrients to grow the best it can be. I admit, part of me felt like I was on some kind of "death panel" for tomato plants, but having been through this before I knew it was the right thing to do.

Here's what the garden looked like after the trimming.

One thing I noticed before adding nutrients (I'm ignoring the flashing LEDs and the reset button on this unit and just using the AeroGarden Ultra to guide me with this garden too) is that the water was stagnant and had a film on top. I looked inside and it was clear that the airstone was not letting out air (the VeggiePro, like the AeroGarden 6 and AeroGarden 3, uses an airstone instead of a pump).

Here's the weird thing--I tried replacing it with a brand new one that I'd purchased directly from AeroGarden. They come 5 to a pack, and I had 4 left. But when I tried all four of them none of them were blowing air. I knew they weren't blocked by minerals or plant debris, as they were brand new. And I knew the pump was working, as when I removed the plastic tube it bubbled fine. 

My conclusion was that this was just yet another example of good intentions but poor design (probably one of the reasons why they discontinued the VeggiePro and AeroGarden 6's and went back to using pumps for the AeroGarden Ultra). My guess is that the output of the pump in the base of the AeroGarden is just too weak to blow a lot of air through the airstones. 

I'm going to try to write to AeroGarden to see if they can send me new airstones, but in the meantime, I figure I'll just leave the tube in place without the airstone, as the plants can still get some oxygen from those bubbles. The bubbling noise is a little loud, but since the unit is all the way in the kitchen it's not too bad. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This also happened in our Aerogarden 6, we tested the pump and although it worked, it was weak. Hubby retrieved an old air pump (we used to have aquariums), drilled a hole into the AG6 and used it instead (the new pump sits on the floor). It produces A LOT more water flow!