In today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at AeroGarden – the most popular indoor gardening brand on the market – in order to understand how each garden works, why AeroGarden is an industry leader, and the technology behind automated hydroponics.
Which AeroGarden model is best? That depends on your preferences, but we can give you the information needed so that you can find the best model for your own specific needs.
So, let’s get into it!
AeroGarden Comparison Chart
- Model: Sprout
- Pods: 3
- Size: 11 x 4.5 x 10 inches.
- Model: Harvest
- Pods: 6
- Size: 11 x 8 x 15 inches.
- Model: Bounty
- Pods: 9
- Size: 17.2 x 11 x 15 inches.
- Model: Farm
- Pods: 24
- Size: 36 x 12 x 22 inches.
- Model: Farm Plus
- Pods: 24
- Size: 36 x 12 x 34 inches.
Table of Contents:
- What is AeroGarden?
- How do AeroGarden’s Work?
- What are AeroGarden Grow Pods?
- What is AeroGarden Nutrient Solution?
- REVIEWS of Every AeroGarden
What is AeroGarden?
AeroGarden is a company that offers in-home garden systems that grow a large variety of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of each garden a little later but as an overview, each AeroGarden unit is comprised of:
- An LED grow-light unit (or two) positioned towards the grow pods.
- A custom-designed growing surface that holds AeroGarden’s patented grow pods.
- An LCD control panel with auto-growing features.
How Do AeroGarden’s Work?
First off, AeroGarden’s do not use soil – they are hydroponic growing systems.
More specifically, AeroGarden systems use a hydroponic design called ‘aeroponics’; instead of letting plant roots simply soak in nutrient solution and water, aeroponic units spray nutrient solution directly onto plant roots at optimal time intervals.
In the late ’90s, NASA funded the company AgriHouse to develop an inflatable aeroponics growing unit.
Although the inflatable unit was never a success, AgriHouse’s efforts produced what is now the patented AeroGarden aeroponics design; that’s right, the question of “how can we grow fresh vegetables and herbs in space” resulted in one of the most innovative commercially available growing devices in the world.
One knows that a certain piece of technology is impressive when the user interface is remarkably easy to interact with, yet the engineering and operational procedures on the back-end are enormously complex.
From the user’s point of view, AeroGardens are rather simple:
- Seeds are placed into AeroGarden’s planting pods.
- Water & nutrient solution is poured into the AeroGarden growing reservoir.
- The planting pods are then placed into the AeroGarden growing reservoir.
- After selecting a grow cycle using the AeroGarden grow panel, your garden will then spray nutrient solution into the grow pods, optimizing for ideal nutrient and pH balances.
But the technology is highly innovative.
Gardening, in general, is a juggling act and to automate it is no simple task; there are numerous problems that must be addressed.
- Plants have different watering requirements over a life-span. For germination, most plants require very little water, but during vegetative growth, they need an abundance of it. How could an automated hydroponic system govern the very common problem of under / overwatering?
- The delivery rate of nutrient solution to plant roots greatly impacts growth rates. How should an automated growing system measure liquid nutrient delivery?
- Hydroponic systems (obviously) don’t use soil; this is great for eliminating mess, but measuring and monitoring moisture levels in soil is a common agricultural technique. How could an automated growing system compute moisture levels without using soil?
- An automated hydroponic unit would have to monitor plant growth rates, how could this be achieved?
As you can see, once you start analyzing the practical problems of growing, the more complex automating it seems to be.
AeroGarden solved these problems through a system called Adaptive Growth Technology; in essence, this system optimizes plant growth by monitoring the rate of nutrient use.
- A reservoir that contains nutrient solution and water.
- A seed pod adapted growing surface that also serves as a cover for the reservoir.
- A light-source above the growing surface that is directed towards the seed pods.
- A liquid measuring device inside the reservoir.
- A controller/microprocessor for calculating the rate of nutrient consumption.
What are AeroGarden Grow Pods?
AeroGarden grow pods are comprised of four main components:
- Soil-free, biodegradable Sphagnum Peat grow sponges (used as a growing medium).
- Grow domes which aid in seed germination through maintaining a consistent and optimal moisture level.
- Labels – It’s always nice to know what you’re growing!
- Grow baskets that hold everything together.
AeroGarden’s grow pods are highly unique in that they are designed for the AeroGarden culture-circulating cultivation method of aeroponics.
Most other commercial hydroponic systems use seed pods that are designed for submerged hydroponics; this is simply a method where the seed pods sit in a non-circulating reservoir filled with nutrient solution.
AeroGarden grow pods are generally available with a variety of seeds, however, I tend to use the AeroGarden Grow Anything Seed Pod Kit.
The term ‘grow anything’ means that you can… grow anything! Yes, this includes marijuana (if legal).
If you’re looking for pre-seeded grow pods, AeroGarden offers a wide variety including a gourmet herb selection, a salad greens selection, Italian herbs, chili peppers (the most challenging to grow), a salsa kit, heirloom salad greens, and many more!
AeroGarden Liquid Nutrients
AeroGarden uses a unique patented time-release liquid nutrient solution that can be effectively used on any and every variety of herb, flower, pepper, or vegetable.
The basic atoms and molecules found within AeroGarden’s liquid nutrient solution include oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum, and water. These are the fundamental molecules needed for plant growth.
AeroGarden offers four different gardening systems that have a growing space between 3 and 24 planting pods (remember, 1 pod = 1 plant):
- The AeroGarden Sprout (3 pods).
- The AeroGarden Harvest (6 pods).
- The AeroGarden Bounty (9 pods).
- The AeroGarden Farm (24 pods).
The following table lists the best AeroGarden models in order based on grow quality, grow space, and overall value compared to price.
|Model:||Grow Space:||LED Lights:||Value Score:|
|1. AeroGarden Harvest||6-pods||20-watt||98%|
|2. AeroGarden Bounty||9-pods||40-watt||96%|
|3. AeroGarden Farm||24-pods||60-watt||96%|
|4. AeroGarden Sprout||3-pods||10-watt||93%|
|5. AeroGarden Farm Plus||24-pods||60-watt||88%|
AeroGarden Sprout Review
If you’re looking for the least expensive, yet most effective entry-level indoor hydroponic garden, then the Sprout might just be for you.
What’s Good About the Sprout?
- It has a great build quality at a low price point.
- The 10-watt LED grow light is full spectrum.
- It’s small, lightweight, and looks fantastic.
What’s Not So Good About the Sprout?
- It only has room for 3 planting pods. Some hydroponic units have more growing space for the same cost; although, it might be worth it to pay more for that sweet AeroGarden grow quality.
- The Sprout is probably the least effective AeroGarden unit. It seems to grow at a slower pace than both the Harvest and the Bounty.
AeroGarden Harvest Review
The AeroGarden Harvest is my personal favorite AeroGarden offering. Like the Sprout, it’s small, stylish, and light-weight but un-like the Sprout it offers 6 growing pod spaces, a more potent 20-W LED full-spectrum light with 2 extra inches of adjustability, and the Harvest ‘family’ is much bigger.
How big? Huge!
AeroGarden offers the base-model 1. AeroGarden Harvest with a black and white color option and the 2. Aerogarden Harvest Elite model which includes 6 gourmet-herb seed pods; a 3. Harvest 360 model which is simply the Harvest but with a 360 potted design, and a 4. Harvest 360 Elite model which comes with a gourmet herb seed kit and additional color options.
What’s Good About the Harvest?
- 6 Pods.
- A large family! There are, altogether, 12 different AeroGarden Harvest sub-models.
- Inexpensive yet highly effective! If you’re looking for your first hydroponic growing unit, I highly recommend the Harvest.
- It’s the best looking model by far; especially the 360.
What’s Not So Good About the Harvest?
- I’ve had some problems with my unit’s LCD display; sometimes it becomes fuzzy and hard to read.
AeroGarden Bounty Review
The Bounty is a classic AeroGarden design. Most of us old-school hydroponic growers have used the Bounty (classic 9) for the better part of a decade.
It’s a lot like the Harvest, but with more growing space, a bigger and better LED full-spectrum grow light and a more comprehensive LCD control panel.
Like the Harvest, the Bounty is available in several different varieties.
The Bounty Elite offers 9 additional gourmet herb pods and a more comprehensive control panel which includes water & food reminders along with lighting control.
The Bounty Elite Wi-Fi offers… well, you guessed it: wi-fi. This allows you to access your AeroGarden with a smartphone via the AeroGarden app which is filled with tips and guidance; it also sends you watering & food alerts and gives you instant access to other AeroGarden users through Facebook and various Pinterest groups.
AeroGarden Farm Review
We’re at our last stop on the AeroGarden review journey.
The AeroGarden Farm is the best commercially available hydroponics unit that money can buy.
First off, it has two 12-pod growing surfaces and comes with a 24-pod salad bar seed kit which includes heirloom greens, a variety of herbs, and cherry tomatoes.
The LED lights are top-of-the-line adjustable full-spectrum, 60-watt monsters!
IMPORTANT: There are three AeroGarden Farm models, the standard 12-inch Farm, the XL 36-inch unit, and the Plus which has 24-inches of vertical growing space and an improved LCD control panel. This system is also is available in white.
The Farm is a hydroponics nerd’s dream unit, albeit with a hefty price tag.