AeroGarden

For anyone who likes fresh flowers, herbs, vegetables, or fruits, but lives in urban areas or homes where maintaining a garden may not be an option, this in-house, aeroponic garden is convenient and manageable (there’s no potting or soil involved, just a little bit of water and nutrient tablets).

I received one as a present last year and have had the “gourmet herb” kit planted ever since with great results – very high quality and it produces the yields advertised. It took about 4 weeks for our kit to reach full maturity and we’ve harvested each plant at least 10 times — some as many as 20 or 30. Each kit comes with little pods preset with seeds, so starting up is as simple a matter as inserting the pods (in the order the manufacturer prescribes to avoid plant competition), adding water and the provided nutrients (which are organic), and turning on the garden lights (two fluorescent bulbs).

We love having the herbs in the kitchen (Cilantro, Chives, Italian Basil, Red Rubin, Basil, Dill, Mint, Parsley). We also have an herb garden outside, but this is nice for quick grabs, and it’s not a bad looking thing to have on the counter. We’re about to switch over to the strawberry kit, which they say yields 5 pounds of strawberries in 6 weeks and continues for 6 months thereafter.

We went into it knowing it probably wouldn’t be a money saver, so I can’t say that it’s a net win on costs compared to the grocery simply because I haven’t done the math. Because of the energy consumption (I think we noticed our electric bill jump between $10 and $15 per month), it’s probably a bit of a luxury item best attuned to those in urban areas and/or those who can’t keep their own gardens (because of geography, climate, etc.). If someone’s going to use this to grow flowers, I would again mention you’ll notice a small increase on your electric bill from running the lights for around 18 hours per day. Thus, I’d recommend growing something you can harvest to get a little bit more for your money.

Either way, for those who lack the green thumb this garden makes for pretty failsafe results.

-- Marshall Votta  

AeroGarden
$100 (includes seed kit)

Manufactured by AeroGrow International, Inc.

Available from Amazon