The further technologically advanced we become the more we can feel that we are moving away from nature but sometimes a gadget can bring Mother Earth, or in this case a selection of her herbs, right into our lives.
The AeroGarden, which boasts NASA-proven aeroponic technology, works like a plug-in, programmable window box and can grow herbs, lettuce, flowers and even tomatoes without you ever having to get your greenfingers mucky.
This makes it ideal for parking on your kitchen counter or if you’re feeling adventurous, using it as the ultimate desktop accessory because it doesn’t take up much space and doesn’t require any cleaning.
Setting up the AeroGarden was pretty straight-forward with little or no assembly required. With the bulbs or ‘grow-lights’ inserted and the area directly under the seeds filled with water, you are ready to go.
The AeroGarden comes with a free seed kit and mine came with a gourmet herb selection, which usually costs €20 for each additional package.
I doubt you can use seeds out of packets from your local garden centre because these kits come with the special nutrients that work in conjunction with the aeroponic technology.
There are seven little pods in the Aerogarden base into which you just pop in the seeds that come encased in a spongy material that suspends them in air. After this, the nutrient tablets are added and you set the dial to whatever particular variety of herb or vegetable you are growing.
The growlights are set to work in cycles of eight hours, so shortly after natural daylight fades they switch on, bathing the growing herbs in constant sunshine, simulated or not.
The sight of growing herbs combined with the constant sound of the nutrient-filled water sloshing underneath made me feel very Zen-like and calm.
I cannot tell you how relaxing and rewarding it is to finally have a gadget that adds no productivity to my workday whatsoever but instead provides a micro-retreat.
Zen-like bonding with nature aside, the major benefit is adding fresh herbs to your cooking after about two weeks of waiting. The gourmet herb kit contained basil, dill, thyme, parsley and mint.
After four days or so the little seeds began to unfurl and grow upwards. Anyone who buys the Aerogarden will find they have an urge to check on their baby seedlings at least 10 times a day.
The technology that makes all this work is completely simple to monitor: the light cycles and water flow are automatically adjusted and a light sensor flashes when more nutrients need to be added or the water level needs topping up.
This really is a great little gadget and the only misgiving I can think of is the cost of buying new seed kits every time but in comparison to buying the actual herbs from the supermarket, it still works out as cost effective.
The other thing to remember is that the garden is always on so it will be a bit of a drain on your electricity, and of course the bulbs, or grow-lights, will eventually need replacing, but then this goes for any gadget really.
The AeroGarden and its seed kits are available online from www.lifes2good.ie, as well as from Atlantic Homecare and Home Store + More.
Pros: Get greenfingers without the muck or hassle
Cons: Needs specialised seed kits
By Marie Boran