You don't have to have a green thumb to grow a prolific garden inside your home. Thanks to hydroponic systems like the AeroGarden, food, water and light are mostly taken care of for you, leaving you to plan out what you're going to do with the shock of Thai basil taking over your kitchen counter.
That said, there are still ways to be involved in the growth of your AeroGarden, and approaches you can take to make sure your plants are healthy, keeping you sitting pretty in a pile of parsley (not to mention saving you some cash at the grocery store).
When you first buy an AeroGarden, it will come with an assortment of seed pods, like dill, thyme and mint. After you've exhausted those, however, you can order a customized set of pods. That's convenient, not just because you can pick what you actually want to grow based on what you like to cook with or eat, but also because you can make strategic decisions that will help you get the most out of your garden (more on that next).
Think about the height and placement of your pods
Expanding on the idea of customizing your seed pods, AeroGarden offers information on how tall the plants usually get -- short, medium or tall. Depending on the AeroGarden model you have, you can decide how to best place your pods. For example, placing a fast-growing, tall plant like basil directly next to a shorter plant might hamper the growth of the smaller plant as the taller plant blocks some of the light from above.
Consider the germination time
Each pod is labeled with a range of time in which that plant usually sprouts, also known as the germination time. I like to give the plants that take longer a head start. It's not foolproof -- those seeds are on their own time -- but it may give slower plants some help. Remember that as plants get taller, you have to extend the grow light upward, which means plants can fall behind if there's too much height disparity.
Don't forget to keep tending your plants
While the AeroGarden relieves you of some of the work of keeping plants alive, like remembering to water them, there's still some upkeep needed to ensure the health and longevity of your garden.
Pruning is a great example of this. In general, pruning is a way to support new growth by getting rid of dead or dying portions of the plant. It can also help shape growth, which is handy considering the AeroGarden has a limited space. If your plants get too tall, they can burn under the grow light or overpower other plants. There are also plants like cilantro or parsley that go through a process called bolting. Bolting is where the plant produces seeds in an effort to carry out ye olde biological imperative. The problem is, plants usually die after they bolt. If you want to keep them going, you'll need to watch out for flowers and remove them.
Set your timer for whenever works for you
The AeroGarden light timer runs for 15 hours. Which 15 hours of the day is up to you. The manual comes with easy instructions on how to set your timer. If you've got your plants in a spot with little or no natural light, you could even have your light on at night while you sleep. If it's located in a spot that does get some light, just make sure you're giving your plants some downtime.
If something doesn't sprout, you can get a new pod
You might end up with a seed pod that never germinates. If that happens, AeroGarden will send you a replacement if nothing comes up after 21 days. All you have to do is email them through the contact form on the website with your name, phone number, address and which pods you need replaced.