Published on July 16th, 2009 | by Greg0
AeroGarden 6 Elite Plus: No Green Thumb Needed
San Francisco isn’t known for spacious backyard gardens. Indoor gardening is certainly popular here among a certain crowd, but if you aren’t growing, ahem, medicinal herbs you probably have little reason to invest in grow lights and other similar equipment. Thanks to Aerogrow, though, you can enjoy the magic of aeroponic gardening at home, planting and harvesting a wide variety of seeds, including tomatoes, greens, herbs, and even flowers.
We’ve taken a look previously at their original and slightly larger kit, as well as at their three-pod model. What we continue to like is the convenience and weather-proof stability- San Francisco doesn’t have terrible weather but it is inconsistent. With any of the AeroGrow gardens, you don’t need to worry about the sun, and can enjoy your harvest rain or shine, in just a few weeks.
The AeroGarden 6 Elite Plus is a nice balance between the two previously-tested models. It takes up less space than the Classic, but can grow nearly twice as much as the AeroGarden 3. Also, thanks to an extended lamp arm and more powerful lights, you get more vertical growing space, perfect for the included Mega Cherry Tomatoes. Of course, it would have been nice if they had also included the trellis, but at least one is available for an extra $20 for those who plan on growing and maintaining plants that work better with one.
As usual, everything you need is included except for water- the lights, the seed pods, and the growth tablets. These organic nutrient tablets are a good part of the secret recipe, and just need to be added to the water at regular intervals. Beyond that, and checking the water supply, there isn’t much you need to do- the plants will just grow. Estimated times until sprouting are pretty accurate, and it doesn’t take long until you can start harvesting your first plants (fourish weeks for flowers and herbs, three for greens, longer for vegetables). Just don’t be too hasty and overtrim, and the plants will continue to provide for quite a while (up to four months or so). You might not enjoy the light during the night, so make sure that you have a fairly secluded location like a kitchen. Luckily, this unit is fairly quiet as well.
It’s almost foolproof, provided that your growing area isn’t too warm or cold. And the resulting produce is almost organic, since it doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides- the only non-organic elements is the fertilizer, which are mineral salts due to the nature of the aeroponic growing process, and the seeds. Aerogrow also links to some studies indicating that refrigerated produce loses nutritional value over time- not a surprise, perhaps, but pointing out an extra benefit of home growing. Not only does it taste better and fresher, it is likely better for you. Best of all, if you manage to use most of the produce instead of purchasing items from Whole Foods or a farmer’s market, it’s pretty easy to recoup the initial investment of the AeroGarden, about $200, within a growing season or two. Now, you might dislike the environmental costs of the unit- CFLs, plastic, etc- but the plants do grow much faster and no chemicals are required, and the electricity required isn’t bad, about $5 a month. Overall, AeroGardens are still the best way to grow at home, and now they even offer a kit that allows you to use any seeds that you want.