My Beautiful and Stress Free Apartment Garden with Aerogarden
This is an unsponsored post about my experience with the AeroGarden Indoor Hydroponic Gardening System. I only feature products on Peaceable Mom with which I have personally had a reliable and positive experience. This post includes affiliate links.
Have you ever wished you could garden in your apartment? Have you ever been exasperated by your inability to keep plants alive or piles of dirt and gardening supplies in your small space? Are you already so busy that the idea of maintaining living plants feels overwhelming? Let me show you how I maintain a small garden in our apartment easily and free of stress!
Starting Our Apartment Garden with AeroGarden
Several months ago I was shopping and spotted a pile of AeroGarden Harvests on the clearance rack.
They were ugly and gray … but I was intrigued. I’ve always wanted to have a garden in my apartment. I’ve always wanted to grow some of our food. However, as a single parent already dealing with homeschooling, gerbils, a wood-burning fireplace, housework, and earning money the idea of adding large amounts of soil to the pile is enough to send me running for the hills.
So, when I saw the AeroGarden Harvests on sale and learned they use only water, plant food, and light to grow beautiful, lush plants I grabbed THREE on a whim. Looking back, the AeroGardens have worked so well for us, I actually wish I had grabbed a few more.
This is what our initial AeroGarden setup looked like right after we brought them home.
It is no understatement to say I have never been able to grow anything green. So, imagine my astonishment when my very first tomato crop looked like this.
It has been so satisfying to be able to grow our own tasty, heirloom quality, pesticide-free food.
What Do We Grow?
Initially, alongside three tomato plants we grew various salad greens and a selection of herbs. They all thrived and provided us with veggies for many days. I estimate the first crop of food from our three AeroGardens provided us with about $40+ worth of organic tomatoes, greens, and fresh/dried herbs.
We are currently growing our third crop of organic tomato plants and salad greens right now. It will take another crop to break even on the systems at the same rate of growth. So, while there may be somewhat more economical ways to garden in one’s apartment, I’m not sure there are easier ways.
Why Is It Easy?
Apart from saving me a lot of mess, the AeroGarden is smart. It tells me when our plants need water and when they need food. And the system regulates the amount of light the plants receive. It grows plants more quickly than in a traditional garden.
Depending on what you are growing and their stage of growth, plants are also able to remain unattended while you go on vacation for several days. You could even theoretically plant a new crop of tomatoes and leave them for a couple of weeks while they germinate. This is just what we did in July while taking a trip to visit family in Texas.
Additionally, we just haven’t had any problems with our systems. Everything has worked perfectly and we haven’t encountered any pests. Not having issues is worth a lot.
We don’t even own the newest, most high-tech model which connects to WiFi and is Alexa compatible (and comes with a price tag to match). AeroGarden has developed their own app for these models which informs you as to your plants’ well-being.
Beautifying My AeroGardens
Right off the bat, I’m going to mention that the gray color of these systems really irked me. It just wasn’t my vibe. So, after harvesting our first crop with the AeroGarden, I upgraded them with a seven dollar can of gold spray paint. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
If you try something like this be sure to tape off the control panel, electronic ports, and protect the light from spray.
Is An AeroGarden Worth The Cost?
Yes, they are a bit of an investment initially. The clearance Harvest models I purchased came in at $50 a pop. My advice is to wait for a deal or purchase second-hand. That said, you’d still end up buying soil, seeds, fertilizer, containers, tools, and plant stands for a traditional apartment garden.
The EASE with which I can grow food and greenery (as someone sensitive to the beauty of her surroundings) has made the initial investment worth it for us. Beyond the very real practical function, having a small garden in our home also makes us happier, brings us joy, and beautifies the space. It gives Sophia (my nine-year-old) something to care for and tend to while relieving me of the stress traditional gardening brings.
So, I do think the “cost” of dollars vs. time vs. effort is worth considering here if you’re on the fence. Some people are natural gardeners or perhaps have abundant land to play with and may scoff at the idea of an AeroGarden. I’m not one of them.
How to Save Money Using Your AeroGarden
AeroGarden seed pod kits come with everything you need to grow almost anything you would like from food to flowers. However, if the expense is off-putting there are a few ways to reduce costs of use and maintenance over time.
- Grab the system on sale, clearance, or second-hand if possible. The smallest version of the AeroGarden is the Sprout. This is perfect if you just want to get your feet wet with this system, or are unsure if it’s for you. We own three of the Harvests which each have six pod holes. The largest model is the AeroGarden Farm, and it comes with a comparable price tag.
- Save and reuse the plastic basket pods and pod covers that come with the initial seed kit you receive with your brand new system. If you purchase a second-hand system, you can purchase these plastic baskets in bulk on Amazon. They can be used indefinitely and cleaned between uses. I usually pop mine in the dishwasher once emptied of roots and moss after a harvest.
- Purchase your own seeds. Brand new systems usually come with an initial seed pod package of herbs which includes everything you need to grow initially. AND if a pod doesn’t germinate, AeroGarden will replace it for FREE. However, AeroGarden seed pods kits can be pricey. This is why, in our home, we reuse our supplies when possible and buy our heirloom seeds at Ace Hardware.
- Buy your peat moss growth sponges in bulk. The moss sponges cannot be recycled and must be replaced with every planting. Amazon sells these in large quantities at a huge discount over AeroGarden prices. One hundred sponges could last you for years.
- Electrical costs. AeroGarden explains in detail how much energy their systems use. For example, the Harvest model we own uses $1.33 per month in electricity. You may be able to mitigate some of this cost by taking advantage of a nighttime rate where available.
- Decline the AeroGarden accessories. As with many gadgets, AeroGarden systems offer a wide variety of accessories for purchase which can add to the cost of your system. We avoid these accessories and look for FREE alternatives. For example, instead of using the bee pollinator tool we simply shake our tomato plants. Or, instead of buying pod covers to protect open pods from light, we use pine cones. These solutions seem to work just as well.
- Consider what to grow. When you decide which foods to grow, consider what will save you the most money in the grocery store. For example, we have had tremendous success growing herbs. If you are able to dry them this can lead to significant savings as compared with grocery store prices.
The AeroGarden makes a WONDERFUL gift for almost anyone – especially those who don’t have the capacity or desire to maintain a traditional garden for whatever reason. I highly recommend it!
Why AeroGarden Might NOT Be Right For You
Lights! The AeroGarden’s lights are on for 15 hours a day. They fill a space with light during that time, especially if you have more than one system running. After our first crop, I placed our AeroGardens in the laundry room to avoid the constant light. However, I was disappointed at not being able to enjoy our plants in our living space. The solution I found was to run the lights at night while we are asleep and for a few hours in the morning. That way the lights don’t disturb us during the day and we can still enjoy our plants. I know some people have designated garden rooms or spaces in the basement for their gardens.
Pets! You have animals who will eat your herbs or other foods you grow. This was a problem I honestly hadn’t even considered until I sent my mother an AeroGarden for Mother’s Day. Her cat was a little too fond of the basil plant. Our gerbils, on the other hand, LIVE for our home grown tomatoes and greens.
Green Thumb! You have a green thumb and feel all of this is unnecessary. I empathize with that perspective. Try to empathize with those of us who aren’t as gifted and still might enjoy a plant or two in our home. To each their own.