Are planning to venture into farming and you just don’t know how to go about it? Aero gardening is the best farming methods with a lot of advantages. From this article, you will get all the tips. While in reality the Aero gardening systems comes with a manual, the manual is very brief, and does not give all tips exhaustively. That’s why this article comes in hand.
So many farmers across the world are using this method of farming. If you are this kind who does not like dirt, then this is the method you should go for. You may ask yourself whether this system can sustain plants and give bounty harvest. The truth is, it has been tried, and all that you have seen on commercials about Aero gardening is true.
What is Aero gardening?
Aero gardening refers to practice of farming which entails growing of plants on a water based solution rich in nutrients. In this type of farming, the root system is supported using rock wool, peat moss, perlite or clay pellets instead of soil. The roots are in direct contact with nutrients. The most popular Aerogarden system comes a set of seven pods.
Advantages of Aero gardening
- The plants’ rate of growth is very high as compared to plants that are planted on soil. These plants grow faster and healthier as compared to when they grow on the soil. The plants grow bigger since they easily access the nutrients. The plants don’t have to grow proper root system. Instead, the plants grow upwards. Aero gardening is an amazing farming method, in the yields are great and yummy.
- These plants use less water as compared to plants growing on soil outdoors. Aero gardening is done indoors preventing loss of water through evaporation.
- This planting method reduces environmental pollution since the garden is enclosed and no solutions gets to the soil.
- The Aero garden kits are available in the market. You don’t have to worry about where to get them.
- The kits are small, hence occupying very little space. You can have the kit even on your kitchen counter.
- The method is free of dirt. If you don’t like dirt, then this method is just for you.
- You can harvest all year round no matter the season. The winter and summer seasons have zero effect on this method of farming. The plants are grown indoors, away from adverse weather conditions.
- You can grow variety of plants such as herbs, peppers, flowers, etc.
- Through aero gardening, you are able to control the growth variables with ease.
The aero gardening has a lot of advantages, but that does not mean there are no disadvantages. However, it is important to note that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far.
Below are some of the disadvantages.
- The solutions PH levels have to be checked regularly. This can be tedious.
- Getting aero garden system is very expensive as compared to using soil.
- Aero gardening is time consuming, especially when the farming is in large scale. The management of the garden is also time consuming. Every now and then you have to monitor the levels of PH and nutrients at all times.
- A simple mechanical breakdown can cause huge losses. Plants can dry within hours in case there is problem with the pump and water circulation.
Tips and Tricks For Aerogarden
The planting has to be done together to ensure the plants grow at the same height. Plant the seedlings at the same time. This ensures the plants are always at the same height, and they get enough light. If you have planted plants with different heights, but at the same time, you have to prune the fast growing plants more frequently. On this garden you can grow a wide variety of plants; herbs, vegetables and flowers. The good news is that, you can plant different plants together. The kit comes with a number of pods with spacers which are suitable for planting several plants.
Carefully Select Your Plants
Be careful to choose the best quality seeds for aero garden farming. Good quality seeds grow to high yielding plants. Different plants do well in indoor setting. You can use aero garden to grow seedlings for transplanting, especially for the tall plants. Some plants do well when grown on soil. But you can still grow them on aero garden to control seedlings quality. Also bigger plants can be transplanted once they have outgrown the indoor space. There are however plants that do well in an indoor environment. Always avoid growing huge plants using this method unless you are transplanting.
Trim the roots
Always trim the plant roots regularly. Plants grown using this method perform better when they are not overcrowded. The plants that are not healthy can also be cut, and allow only those that are healthy. Regular trimming of roots ensures the roots do not grow into unnecessary areas. Roots, if left unattended, can even grow into the pump house. The roots should be monitored, and trimmed to avoid pump failures. To avoid overcrowding leave empty pods. The roots from one pod tend to crowd the roots in the neighbouring pods. Leaving empty pods makes the plants to grow uninterrupted.
Plastic Domes Are Evil
Avoid plastic Domes. They are not necessarily bad, but aero garden system provides enough humidity. Plastic domes are useful in other hydroponics methods. The domes would provide more humidity which may be harmful to the plants. Excess humidity causes molds and diseases.
You can use the plastic domes when planting the seeds. Allow the domes to stay in place until the seed germinate, and start showing leaves. The domes are no long needed, so you can remove them. The domes are basically used to provide the conducive environment for germination; temperature and humidity.
Safely keep the packaging material. The materials contain important planting tips which you may wish to refer to from time to time. In case you need a refund from the manufacturer, you need the packaging. Since it doesn’t cost much to store the packaging, just keep it.
Ensure regular maintenance of the aero garden kit to prolong its performance lifespan and prevent breakdowns. Pump and lights are two basic components that need to be checked regularly. The two are prone to breakdowns.
Change your water every few weeks
To eliminate fungus, and disease causing bacteria, change the water often. During every fresh planting, clean and disinfect the system. That way, no diseases from the previous planting will affect the new plants.
Nutritional solution used should be replaced every two weeks or three weeks at most. This way, you don’t have to worry about the change in PH or blockages due to nutrients build up.
Changing of water ensures that there is no build-up of nutrients which can be harmful. Apart from harming the plants, the build-up can cause blockage and pump failure.
Plants are sensitive to water used. Tap water or distilled water is recommended for use. Never use well water, as it interferes with the PH and nutrients. Most of the underground water contains Sodium ions which are not good for plants.
If you are using tap water, lower the PH by adding hydroponic PH solution. Normally, the tap water has a high PH of 8. The recommended PH for water used in aero gardening is 6.5.
You can still use the tap water direct without lowering the PH, but this will lead to low plant’s nutrients uptake. Need to check the PH first since the levels vary. You can adjust the PH accordingly.
After attaining the correct PH, the next step is to add fertiliser used in hydroponics, or add aero garden tablets. Hydroponic fertiliser is preferable since it does not cause nutrients’ build up.
You can either do the general mixing, or you can consult a specialist to advice on the best mixing for specific plants and at particular stages of growth.
Many users, through experience recommend premixing of the nutrients and water in a bottle. The solution is then added to the aero garden system. This is important for 2 reasons; a mistake in the mixing can easily be corrected without affecting the plants. Secondly, the remaining premixed solution can be used for toping up. This remaining solution should be safely labelled and stored.
Water Top Up
Always make sure the water is up to fill line at all times. When topping up the nutrients rich solution, the pump should be off. This allows the water to settle in order to give the correct water level reading. Ensure the water solution remains well oxygenated. The plants require oxygen in their growth. Always ensure the maintaining of standard and recommended water temperature. You can comfortably use a water heater especially during winter.
As the plants grow, they require more nutrients. From 3rd feeding onwards, provide extra nutrients.
Remember not to use too hot or too cold water. Use warm water. Only refill the pods- don’t pour water directly on the plants, as this damage them.
Pruning and training your plants
Herbs require pruning which should start early, and should be done regularly. The horizontal pruning should be done to prevent overcrowding, and blockage of light. It is recommended to do the pruning at the leave joints. At any given time of pruning, make sure you don’t exceed 1/3 of the plant.
Pruning is very important since it prolongs the life of the plant. Also, pruned plants grow faster, and are healthier.
Regular pruning is also a must. When you prune the plants, they will tend to start growing horizontally, and not upwards. Prune whenever the plants get near to lights. The plants growing near the lights can easily burn. Let all the plants remain of the same height by pruning.
Prune the plants often. Pruning is however not necessary if you are planting seedlings for transplanting. The exercise is only important on long term plants.
Growing tall plants can be a challenge in aero gardening, if you still want to grow tall plants, you should train the plants. In training of the plants, use wires. This is most useful practice when growing tomatoes or chillies.
Provide sufficient lighting.
Aerogarden kits come with light bulbs. It is recommended that you replace these bulbs after every 6 months. From the experience, the bulbs blow up about the same time, so you have no option, but to replace. You can modify the lights so that you don’t spend so much money on lighting in the long run. Additionally, you should note that different plants require different level of lighting at different stages.
When you are not using the aero garden system, it’s advisable you clean it thoroughly, and store it in a clean and safe place, away from moisture. Be careful to clean the pump and the planter trays. Use chlorine solution to clean the pump, and rinse well with clean water.
Proper Gardening Practices
- Allow for pollination often. This important for fruition.
- Harvest the crops when ready.
- If you notice unhealthy plants, always check the solution PH. If there is no issue with the PH, then flush the solution system.
- Don’t remove the plant labels for easy identification.
- As the plant height increases, raise the lights. Read and understand the setting of lights during the different times.
- As for herbs, remove the flowers whenever they show up. This allows the plant to be leafier and healthier.
- For the plants to grow well, provide enough space. The aero garden kit comes with spacers and separate growth pods.