Thursday, May 21, 2009

AeroGarden starter fail 1.0

It's a bummer, but IMO the AeroGarden (holiday gift from Mom!) is better left to growth of seed pods than used for a seed starter system. I figured I would give it a try since our first round of seed pods was pretty much spent and due for a change soon anyway. I think I lost an above-average number of seedlings due to damping off, which I think is quite possibly due to the design of the starter tray. The grow plugs extend down into the reservoir, which basically means the sponges are always sucking up moisture. I took it as a sign to abort mission when some of my previously robust-looking brussels sprouts seedlings keeled over. Then again, my disappointment could just be my unrealistic expectation of perfection the first time out! Only time and more experience will tell.

So, the pic above is the survivors' new home.
back row:
lacinato kale/rainbow chard - double-yield cuke - bridge to paris pepper
front row:
brussels/rainbow chard - basil

Two seedlings for two sowings on the peppers is probably a good result in the seed-starting world since I read these are difficult to germinate. I've since learned that cukes are best directly sown. Other than that, I'll give all the other participant seeds in my experiment another go next season - with more appropriate sowing timing - using methods found in The New Seed Starter's Handbook and The New Victory Garden. But since I still pine for those brussels, I might give one of the methods a shot now.


Coreen said...

My Aerogarden master gardener kit worked really well for me this year. I didn't have any problems with damping off or any other issues. Only problem was getting the roots untangled when it came time to remove them all.

Chris said...

Thanks for the comment - I had chosen the starter tray over the kit b/c I was aiming for volume (i.e. more than 7 starts). If next year's budget allows, I may give the kit a try next year. My uninformed guess is that since the kit uses their bread-and-butter pod system, the circulation of water and the medium (does it use the foam as in the standard pods?) makes it a better product. The starter tray is basically a bunch of peat plugs sitting in a tray of water (no circulation). I can imagine root tangle is a hassle...the root system from the cucumbers I started were about 18" long!