Lifelong Learning About Indoor Hydroponics and Outdoor Gardening

I spent the last of my hobby money on two AeroGardens at the end of February (they arrived in March). So far, I feel it was definitely worth it over a month in.

Why AeroGardens?

What sparked me to get them were two reasons: a) my sister has a larger fancier model that in just a few weeks is full of herbs in her kitchen b) they had a really great deal going on for the “Indoor Gardening Month” (is that for real?).

Which ones did you get?

After going back and forth over the options for several weeks, and then deciding on a budget, I priced out several combos of units based on how many spots I’d get in each one. This combo of two Harvest models provided me the most growing spaces and offered me the options to make one a vegetable garden and one a herb garden with 6 spaces each.

AeroGarden Harvest Models – Day 1

Our back window in our kitchen, while a beautiful garden window, does not get any direct sunlight all day. For the past two years, I’ve grown my herbs in the front family room window or outdoors. They usually did not last long and died off quickly. This is what spurred me to research and learn more about AeroGardens.

I am not naturally a green thumb, but I’ve learned quite a bit over the last decade and have taken to making it my focus for the coming future. I would like to grow as much food as possible for our family and it just seems like an awesome hobby to have. Beginning again with a fail proof option sounded great, even though the price tag may be pretty steep ($180 total in a 2-for-1 sale).

If I did wait a little while longer, I might have opted to buy grow lights instead, but since it was my personal hobby money I felt okay splurging on these gadgets.

How much is growing?

In just about 2-3 weeks, I already have extensive gardens! Six herb plants, 2 jalapeno plants, a tomato plant, a romaine plant, and I am starting seeds for my sister in the empty spaces.

AeroGarden Harvest Models – Day 21 – already harvested herbs

In addition to these gardens, I signed up for several spring classes on outdoor gardening and composting. I took two classes last weekend on vegetable gardening and another on herbs and their uses. I learned so much from both classes that I have an even better plan of action going into this outdoor growing season.

In the vegetable gardening class, I learned quite a bit about seasonal growth, getting the outdoor garden started, using my compost, and prepping a garden in the fall for the coming year. They also went over various bugs and pests that could ruin your garden and how to rid yourself of them.

Ewwww… caterpillars and wasp eggs. Keep the wasp eggs, they kill the hornworm.

My mind was spinning with ideas, of which Chris is now building as I type this. He’ll be creating two raised garden beds at hip height for me to work in. He found plans last summer and while I tried to tell him I just wanted raised beds on the ground, he convinced me I’d be happier with these. So far, I have to agree and I haven’t even worked them yet.

Plus, I have found how much I enjoyed my new moleskin notebooks (I had a gift card). I keep a small one in my purse now and take the larger to classes. I look forward to chronicling my learning in this journal of gardening.

My notes on vegetable gardening.

The second class was just as awesome. It provided a LOT of ideas of how to use a myriad of herbs in cooking, drinks, or making teas. I took away a ton of ideas for almost 20 herbs and will attempt to grow a few new ones I’ve never tried before. Lavender anyone? I definitely will be brewing lots of herbs. Rosemary lemonade? Yes please.

Rosemary lemonade? Yes please.

My notes from the classes.

While I plan to keep many herbs in the Aerogarden there are a few that will be grown outdoors. Next year, I’ll mostly likely use the AeroGarden in the winter months and then move plants outdoors or grow outside for the spring/summer/fall season.

The day after the classes, I tricked Chris into a trip to Lowes to pick up building materials and get started since the kids were with their grandparents for half the morning. After all, my lettuce should already be in the ground!

Driving the car full of wood.

Yes, this is my dashboard even though I drive a Rav4. We always push the limits on what we can get home in our cars.

Chris: Let’s just get enough to build on of the beds. We won’t be able to fit this all in the car.

Kate: No way, we can fit it. This is us you’re talking about.

Side note: we renovated an entire kitchen once using two compact sedans. Yeah, we’re a little crazy.

Ummm… pressure on the dash.

Once we got home we got right to work. Part of outdoor projects includes ripping out and renovating the entire front gardens as well. I had Chris finish off a stump from a small bush that he chopped down a few weeks ago. Man, I wish I had his strength.

Admiring his handiwork.

Monkey helped out and Crab napped for almost 3 hours. Say wha? He rarely does that. Crab gave me enough time to get my work done. What a good baby guy.

I had to rip out the beds, remove yet more river rock (I hate river rocks!) and then lay out the new garden border. This bed last year was full of river rock and a fish pond with bushes. It’s been a two-year process to dig this darn thing out. The river rock has been reused in our back yard which has worked out nicely.

Monkey making his mud pie madness.

I love the look of the new cedar border and have to pick up one more section. I plan to do this on the other side of the house, but that’ll be a MUCH larger project. With what is here, I plan to wait until the hostas I planted last year come up a little, then lay down landscaping fabric to kill off the weeds, put dirt on top, and plant a few flowers.

Originally, I thought this might become a vegetable garden bed, but underneath is a crap ton of river rocks still despite cleaning this thing out for years. So, I just can’t be bothered to dig down anymore. Maybe as it builds up over time it’ll become another growing space.

The finished border.

How do you do it with little kids?

We’re often asked how do we do what we do with two little kids who are 5 and 1 1/2 years old or basically told, “I could never do that with my kids around.”

Simple, we just bring them outside to get dirty with us. In this instance, we lucked out with a long nap, but otherwise, Crab would’ve been right there in it. It’s a priority for us to keep our bodies moving, our minds learning, and our kids doing the same. When they see us putting in sweat equity, experimenting, failing, and trying again I think it helps them to realize that it’s okay to keep trying and playing as you learn.

Monkey helped build one of the raised beds (more to come) and cannot wait to help me out. I have a feeling a stool will be left outside ready for one of my kiddos to help out with gardening this coming summer.

And you know what is even better? My kids love vegetables, and soon they’ll be able to pick them right off the plants to enjoy through all of our hard work together.