March 4, 2019

Seed Starting Using an Aerogarden

Aerogarden planted Friday, March 1st, with peppers and eggplants.

Sounds like madness? Maybe a little.

Peppers take forever to germinate for me. Our house doesn't have any of the things peppers need, like consistent warmth and bright light. So I wondered about using the Aerogarden to start seedlings. And what do you know? They make a seed starting system.

I actually got an Aerogarden Harvest model last year from my mother in-law. It's a little hydroponic system that grows plants in soilless pods. The LCD light on this thing is powerful. Like staring into the noonday sun. I had to purchase the little seed starting tray which fits on top of the little water bowl, and can start 31 plants at a time. Soilless pods and a tiny bottle of nutrient broth came with the seed starting system.

To start out I put it on a 24 hour vegetative light cycle to keep the seeds warm enough to, hopefully, germinate. With the strong constant light cycle the seedlings should grow fast. It's probably a good idea, to pot them up after just a week or two of growth because you don't want the roots to get too tangled together.

This thing is actually tiny. Less than a foot long, so it hardly takes up any counter space. The system circulates water and tells you when to add water or nutrients.

The first thing I did was wet the soilless pods with water and then microwaved them for four minutes, to kill any mold spores that might be lingering in the sphagnum peat. Then one or two seeds are placed in the premade divots in each pod. Then I covered the top of the tray with plastic wrap to help trap heat and moisture. I then set the instrument, so it knew the system was newly planted and it informed me that it'll be two weeks before the seedlings will need to be fed.

It's probably a little late to be starting peppers and eggplants. I usually start them in February to give them a few extra weeks to germinate and get a little bigger before I start tomatoes. Once the peppers are potted up, lettuces will have a go in the system. I'm hoping it'll be a good way to start lettuces regularly since we are way into salads lately.


Michelle said...

That's a nifty setup. It's nice that it's small enough to put on your countertop. I hope it works well for you.

Endah Murniyati said...

That's really interesting!

Sue Garrett said...

That’s an interesting little gadget. I look forward to seeing the resulting plants, Will you continue to grow them hydroponically or transfer to compost.

Phuong said...

Hi Michelle,
It seems to be working ok. Since the seeds don't get covered, I can see them germinating and developing which can be a detriment. I thought fuzzy mold was forming on one of the seeds, but turns out it was just the roots emerging and I ended up snapping the stem of that seedling.

It took 5 days for the first one to germinate. Half the peppers have germinated so far, but none of the eggplants have. The eggplants seeds are incredibly old, though.

Phuong said...

Hi Endah,
It's a fun little device. And it should tell me when it needs water added to the bowl which is nice.

Phuong said...

Hi Sue,
Half the peppers have germinated, and none of the eggplants yet. I definitely plan on potting the plants up into individual containers in two to three weeks. The varieties I'm growing are much too tall for the Aerogarden, since the light on the Harvest model isn't adjustable.

Dave @ HappyAcres said...

I have never heard of the Aerogarden before. It will be interesting to hear about the final results. I've started peppers her but not eggplant yet. And I plan on starting most of my tomatoes next week. It's a busy time of year for gardeners!

Phuong said...

Hi Dave,
The tap root on the pepper plants seem to have difficulty penetrating the soilless pods. I'll just pot them up individually once their stems are upright. At least it'll give me the chance to leave the plastic wrap on, to keep the not-yet germinated seeds warm. From what I can tell, most people use the tiny hydroponic system for herbs or very very small tomato plants.

I'm planning to start tomatoes next week as well. So exciting!

Margaret said...

I'll be interested to see how well this works for you! My husband gave me one of these systems a couple of weeks ago but I never really got into buying the pods, etc. I'll probably give it another go at some point.

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
That's so fun that your husband got you one. I like it for seed starting, but in our humid climate we do tend to have problems with mold. I used a tiny bit of Serenade which is an organic method of control and it cleared up my issues.