AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 2 Update

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 2 Update

I have so many exciting updates to share about my AeroGarden Farm Plus garden, the third AeroGarden in my collection. I also have a really important update about about the lights, lupus and psoriasis. This post contains a lot of information. The TL;DR version: The growth rate in the Farm Plus is mind-blowing!

Let me take you on a tour of my Farm Plus and all of the exciting things that have happened in two short weeks, walk you through my journal, and talk about important health things.

I’m not going to go into what today’s maintenance looked like as it was just adding nutrients and topping up the water. Next update should have some harvesting details.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Overview

The AeroGarden Farm Plus can grow up to 24 plants. I’m currently growing 17.

As mentioned in my things you need to know about the Farm Plus post, you can grow up to 24 plants in the AeroGarden Farm family. If you’re growing fruits, you don’t want to fill up the fruit side. They need more room to grow.

If you don’t use every pod hole in the AeroGarden Farm Plus, you need to cover them so that algae doesn’t grow in the tanks and kill your plants. Certain seed kits, like the bell pepper kit, come with hole covers. In the USA, you can buy them on their own. In Canada, you’re SOL and need to buy a seed kit that includes them. Alternatively, you can cover the holes with black electricians tape.

A really nifty thing about the AeroGarden Farm family is that each pod gets individually watered. I’ll try to catch it during a pump cycle time to video the water being pumping into each pod. It allows for more efficient feeding and watering of each plant!

The left side of my Farm Plus is growing herbs. The right side of my Farm plus is growing fruits. Those metal wires you see are a magnetic trellis system needed in lieu of being able to stake your plants. It comes with the Farm Plus and is very easy to adjust the height as your plants grow.

I’m using this first season in my Farm Plus as an experiment. I’m planning to get a second Farm Plus. But first, I need to know how fast certain things will grow and how much they will produce, so that I can figure out exactly how many of each plant I need to grow in order to replace these items on my shopping list.

I go through a lot of peppers — both sweet and hot — tomatoes, cilantro, mint, cumin, parsley (for the dogs’ homemade dental chews); a moderate amount of Thai basil, dill and rosemary, and fewer amounts of everything else I’m growing.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 – Left Side Overview

AeroGarden Farm Plus Week 2 Left Side

The herbs growing on the left side of my AeroGarden Farm Plus are from the top, left to right: rosemary (using grow anything pods), sage (grow anything), Thai basil, oregano (grow anything), catnip (grow anything), cumin (grow anything), cilantro (grow anything), cilantro (grow anything), mint and Italians parsley.

Rosemary

There is a very good chance that the rosemary won’t grow. It is a very difficult herb to grow, even in the best of conditions. Germination time is 15-25 days, so the fact there isn’t any growth yet isn’t concerning. I’m going to give the rosemary 30 days to germinate. If it doesn’t germinate by then, then I’m going to attempt to clone some organic rosemary from the grocery. One of the wonderful things about the grow anything pods is that you can use them to clone plants; instructions on how to do so are included with the kits.

Sage

Blown away by how quickly the sage is growing.

This is one of those exciting updates I mentioned at the very top. I could not believe how quickly the sage grew in my AeroGarden Farm Plus garden. The germination time for sage is 2 – 3 weeks. The grow dome for my sage was removed on January 14: 11 days after planting. The seeds only took a couple of days to sprout and grew very rapidly. Since January 14, my sage has grown at least another centimetre!

Thai Basil

I didn’t remove the grow dome in time and the poor Thai basil got burnt.

Because it took a bit longer than the label indicated for my Genovese basil to germinate and grow out of its dome, I didn’t pay fast enough attention to my Thai basil. The Thai basil germinated within 2 days. Normal germination time is 4 – 7 days. One day, the Thai basil was 50 per cent up the grow dome. The next, the leaves were brown because it was being smothered by the dome.

The dome on the Thai basil also came off on January 14: 11 days after planting. It was three weeks before I was able to take the dome off of the Genovese basil that is my Sprout LED garden #1.

Oregano

It is difficult to see through all the moisture, but the oregano is doing swimmingly!

The results for the oregano are also mind-blowing! Regular germination for oregano is 7 – 14 days. My oregano germinated within 5 days. Oregano starts growing slowly before it becomes a tall herb. I figure the grow dome will be ready to come off within the week.

Catnip and Cumin

I planted the catnip and cumin on January 11. Catnip takes 10 – 20 days to germinate. Cumin takes 7 – 14 days. So, it’s too early to see anything yet. I’m growing the catnip for my cats, in case it’s not obvious. Also, I’m sure my beagles will also enjoy it. There should be some exciting news about these two plants in the week-four update.

Cilantro 1

Cilantro can be very difficult to grow. My other cilantro plant took no problem. The normal germination rate for cilantro is 5 – 10 days. I checked in on day 5 and there was nothing. I checked it on day 10, still nothing. So, I added some more seeds. When I checked it today, it still had nothing and the top of the grow sponge was beginning to grow algae. So, into the compost bin the sponge went and I replanted this pod today. We will see what happens.

Cilantro 2

Unlike the other cilantro plant, this one is doing just fine.

The dome for this cilantro plant came off on January 14. Cilantro is part of the mint family and it too tends to start of slow and then just explode. When the dome came off three days ago, it was just the two side leaves and not the actual cilantro leaves. Those grew within the last 24 hours.

This cilantro thriving also contributed to me tossing and restarting the other one.

Mint

My mint seems much happier in the AeroGarden Farm Plus

The grow dome on my mint in my AeroGarden Sprout LED garden #2 didn’t come off until 26 days after planting. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mint in my Farm Plus will be ready to escape its dome within the next week. Most of the plants in my AeroGarden Farm Plus are growing at a rate of 1 cm per day.

Italian Parsley

Parsley also seems happier in the Farm Plus

Again, it is difficult to see through all the condensation, but the Italian parsley is also doing amazingly well. Normal germination time for Italian parsley is 15 – 21 days. This Italian parsley sprouted 4 days ago: 10 days after planting.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 – Right Side Overview

The right side of my AeroGarden Farm Plus is dedicated to tomatoes and peppers.

If you think the above is mind-blowing, wait until I walk you through my fruits! Once again, I used grow anything sponges and seeds I purchased for a some of the plants. Starting at the top, left to right: Manitoba heirloom tomatoes (grow anything), heirloom red cherry tomatoes, Serrano peppers (grow anything), sweet bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red-fire chilli peppers and purple super hot peppers.

Manitoba Heirloom Tomatoes

The Manitoba heirloom tomatoes are one of the things that are blowing my mind the most!

Let me tell you about Manitoba heirloom tomatoes. Manitoba heirloom tomatoes were originally developed in the mid 1950’s by the Morden Experimental Farm in Morden, MB to ripen during the short summer season and germinate during a colder spring. Regular germination time for Manitoba heirloom tomatoes is 7 – 14 days. The germination rate is 89 per cent, so it’s an easy fruit to grow.

Now, brace yourself. I planted these on January 11! They germinated in 3 days! The grow dome came off yesterday (January 16)! Five days from planting to touching the top of the grow dome. Yesterday, I was watching this plant very closely. When I woke up, these tomatoes were at about 1 cm in height. By 4 pm, I had to take off the grow dome because the leaves were touching to top! I am not making this up!

I planted three seeds and as you can see, each germinated. Once the two smaller Manitoba tomato plants reach about 4 cm in height, then I’ll cut down with scissors. You only want one fruit per pod.

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are growing but not at the same rate as the Manitoba tomatoes.

These tomatoes came with the AeroGarden Farm Plus. Germination time for the heirloom cherry tomatoes is 7 – 14 days. They germinated under a week, however, they are not growing at the same rate as the Manitoba tomatoes. This is no cause for concern. It is a good data point to have. It lets me know that I can start plants at different times, and with some types, it’s more than okay!

Serrano Peppers

The Serrano peppers are another fruit that is blowing my mind!

Like the Manitoba tomatoes, I planted the Serrano peppers in my AeroGarden Farm Plus garden on January 11. Serrano peppers normally take 10 – 21 days to germinate.

Yesterday, there was no sign the Serrano peppers had started to germinate. When a plant germinates, condensation forms within the grow dome, even if you can’t see the plant yet. Yesterday, there was none of that. Today, BOOM! All three seeds I planted have just shot up, 6 days after planting. Again, I am not making this up! These should be ready for dome removal in the next couple of days.

Just like the tomatoes, once the two smaller Serrano pepper plants reach about 4 centimetres, they will be cut down with scissors.

Sweet Bell Peppers

The bell peppers are also thriving.

The dome for my bell peppers was removed yesterday. Germination time for bell peppers is 8 – 14 days. Mine germinated in 6 days. It took these fruits a little bit to poke their way out of the label, but once they did, they too grew super fast. It currently looks like there are two plants growing, once of which will be culled.

Jalapeno Peppers

The jalapeno peppers were to first fruit to lose its grow dome.

Jalapeno peppers take 10-14 days to germinate. These plants germinated in 5 days. The grow dome was removed on January 12, nine days after planting. At first, I thought only two plants were growing. Turns out, there are three jalapeno plants growing. In another day or two, the two smaller plants will be tall enough to safely cut them out.

It really is mind-blowing how quickly everything grows in the AeroGarden Farm Plus!

Red-Fire Chilli and Super Red Hot Peppers

Both of the grow domes for these peppers have condensation, indicating that they have germinated. The red-fire chilli has a lot of condensation. However, I don’t see signs of plant growth, just yet. Red-fire chillis take 7 – 10 days to germinate. I failed to note when I first noticed condensation. Super red hots take up to 17  days to germinate, so I’m not worried. Especially when the rest of my peppers are doing so amazingly well!

As I said, lot of exciting things happening in my AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden #3. Last night, my brain was lamenting the fact that the Farm Plus doesn’t have a built-in webcam to check in on it through the AeroGarden app because the garden is now at a point where you can see significant changes every hour, never mind daily.

I have a security camera that is unused that I may just setup in my garden room, especially as I have recently found out that I cannot safely stay in my garden room for as long as I had hoped. More on that in the important health update.

A Thing to Know About the AeroGarden Farm Plus if Your Power Goes Out

The other day, very briefly, our power went out. The power outage caused a problem. Not only did the clock reset itself, but my Farm Plus lost a day in its built-in tracking of how many days left until feeding and watering. I had to manually reset the nutrients reminder today as it thought today was Day 13 instead of Day 14. So, we are getting an uninterrupted power supply to power all of my gardens so this doesn’t happen again. We have frequent power outages in the winter because of winter wind storms.

You would think that if the power goes out, having that information in the app would sync it back to the Farm Plus so you don’t lose days and time, but it doesn’t.

My AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 2 Journal Update

There is a lot more to keep track of, so my journal entries for my Farm Plus are different, accordingly.

With the Farm Plus, there is so much more to keep track of. With so many plants that grow at a variety of rates, I had to come up with a way to track everything. Especially because this Farm Plus is being used as an experiment.

The image may be difficult to see, so let me give you a quick rundown of how I use my journal to keep a log of my third garden.

Each side is labels left and right, with ovals underneath. Each oval either contains the plant that is growing or has black lines going through it if it’s capped off.

When I first planted my Farm Plus and then added the other herbs and fruits, I used circle stickers to label each plant, put the plant date, and grow rate as they started to germinate, so I had a Day 0 basis. I didn’t like the way using circles looked, so I switched to oval stencils.

In each appropriate oval, I’ve noted when domes came off and when I replanted the first cilantro plant. Underneath are images of each side, plus notes about feeding and water top-up.

On Saturday, I’ll sit down and draw everything out again so that I can keep track of notable events during the next two weeks of this planting seasoning. While the journal pages for my Farm Plus may be more structured than for my two Sprout LEDs, maintaining my journal in this way still provides me with the mental health benefits of pairing AeroGarden-ing with journalling.

The Important Health Update: AeroGarden-ing with Lupus and Psoriasis

During my AeroGarden Sprout LED Garden 2: Week 6 update, I mentioned that the lights were helping to treat my psoriasis. The UV treatment paired with methotrexate appears to be doing the trick to clear it up for the first time, ever, in nearly 40 years. I also noted that I’m allergic to the sun, thanks to lupus and mused that I wasn’t having a reaction to the UV in the grow lights — UV is what many people with lupus are allergic to.

Well, I spoke too soon. Yesterday, I spent over 30 minutes in my garden room, looking at my plants, enjoying the sights, smells and sound of the water spilling over each pod in the Farm Plus. Shortly after the 30-minute mark, that is when I started to have a reaction to the UV. When under regular sunlight, that reaction typically occurs within 5 – 10 minutes, even with sunscreen on.

So, now it’s all about moderation: No more than 20 minutes in my garden room until I can purchase a big comfy chair that I can place far enough away from the lights where they won’t hurt me, yet still spent time enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of my garden. The lights over the AeroGarden beds are so concentrated on the plant beds, that I’m not getting the full force of the sun on my face, but it’s enough UV to be a bugger all the same when I’m sitting at the dresser that houses my gardens.

So, that is that! Exciting things! Important things learned!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Until next time!

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Jules Sherred
hello@disabledkitchenandgarden.ca

Jules Sherred is a gender noncomforming autistic disabled trans man. He has lupus with many secondary disorders, including but not limited to, psoriatic arthritis in every joint, fibromyaligia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic migraines, and antiphospholipid syndrome -- a bleeding and clotting disorder. He also has Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (C-PTSS). He has found great physical and psychological relief in Instant Pot-ting and AeroGarden-ing. After coming up empty trying to find disability resources, written by disabled people, on how to create a disability-friendly kitchen and garden that has multiple benefits, he decided to take matters in his own hands by sharing what he has learned.

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