AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 6 Update

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 6 Update

After 6 week of growing in my AeroGarden Farm Plus, I cannot walk into my garden room without singing “Welcome to the Jungle”. I don’t even know where to begin with the summary. My Manitoba tomato, Serrano pepper and purple super hots have flowers. My bell pepper and jalapeno pepper have so many buds and should be flowering any second. My herbs are exploding. And so much more!

Six weeks in, and the Farm Plus is now beyond mind-blowing! It it exceeding my wildest expections..

If you are just joining me on the adventure, because there is so much to update when it comes to the Farm Plus, the format is going to be different than with my AeroGarden Sprout LED updates. I’m going to include maintenance information as I give you a tour through each plants condition. Also, because this garden is an experiment to decide how many of each plant will be planted when I purchase my second Farm Plus, I’m also keeping track of how much the plants grow from week-to-week.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 6 Overview

After 6 weeks, its difficult to tell what exactly is in the Farm Plus because everything is so massive!

A lot a lot of changes have happened in the last two weeks. So much so, I’ve continued to not only take pictures of each plant’s condition before and after harvest, I’ve created images to easily see the difference. It really is the only way to appreciate just how quickly everything is growing.

All of the domes are now off, except for one, which I’ll get to soon. As you’re about to see, there has been changed to how the trellis system is being used.

Aside from harvesting a lot of herbs in the left garden, today’s maintenance also involved pruning the right garden, and feeding and watering both gardens. Because there was so much to do today, today’s maintenance probably took 30 minutes. Part of that time included preparing herbs for freezing. Even though it took 30 minutes, it was a very relaxing and spoon-replenishing time, which is excellent.

I had expected to go up to 15 minutes once I need to harvest and prune all 18 plants, each week. I seriously underestimated that. It makes me laugh, hard. I wonder how much time will be added once it’s time to start harvesting fruit?

Before we get to the walk through of each plant, here is a comparison of the condition of the Farm Plus last week and this week before maintenance.

Top: Week 4 after harvest. Bottom: Week 6 before harvest. I can’t even with the Farm Plus.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 6 – Left Side Walk Through

AeroGarden Farm Plus Week 6 left side before harvest.

As you can see in the image, at 6 weeks, there is a lot to harvest in the herb side of my Farm Plus. And I thought there was a lot to harvest after 4 weeks!

Because the left side is such a jungle, I had to harvest from front to back, instead of back to front. But for the sake of making the posts easier to update, we’ll continue the walk-through from back top left to bottom row right.

Again, let’s do a Week 4 left side after harvest compared to Week 6 left side before harvest. There was so much growth, I had to make the comparison a portrait image in order to fit the full height of the left side after six weeks.

Top image: Left side after harvest at week 4. Bottom: Right side before harvest at week 6.

Now, let’s walk through each herb on the left side of my Farm Plus.

Rosemary

The rosemary wasn’t doing anything after a month, so I cloned some organic rosemary from the grocer.

Two weeks ago, roots had started in my first attempt to grow rosemary. But then, a few days later, the roots started to mold. So, on February 4, I decided to attempt cloning some organic rosemary from the grocer. So far, so good! There is new growth starting, so I’m keeping my fingers scross that it will grow this time around.

Sage

The sage was 18 cm (7 inches) before harvest. It was 7 cm (2.75 inches) after I harvested it two weeks ago.

I’m still quite blown away by the sage. It has grown 11 cm (just over 4 inches) since it was harvest two weeks ago. It’s also starting to grow the long stems, so today was both about real harvesting and reducing some of the bulk that was blocking neighbouring plants. After today’s harvest, the sage measured 15 cm (6 inches). Because of how sage grows, it doesn’t reduce height as much as bulk when trimming back a leaf set.

And here is a comparison of the sage two weeks ago vs today before harvest and today after harvest.

Left: Sage at Week 4. Middle: Sage at Week 6 before harvest. Right: Sage at Week 6 after harvest.

I was able to get a very nice amount of sage from today’s harvest.

Thai Basil

The Thai basil was harvested twice in the last two weeks.

The Thai basil is a monster of a plant. It absolutely loves living in the AeroGarden Farm plus. I’ve had to harvest it two times in the last two weeks. After week 4 harvest, the Thai basil measured 10 cm (4 inches). On February 4, it was back up to 18 cm (7 inches). That is 8 cm (3 inches) of growth of four days! After the harvest, it measured 13 cm (just over 5 inches).

Today before harvest, it was 28 cm (just under 1 foot): 15 cm (6 inches) of growth in 10 days. After today’s harvest, the Thai basil measures 18 cm (7 inches). Harvesting it was pretty daunting. There are just so many basil plants growing and were growing under the trellis and behind the garden. Because you can’t trim more than 1/3 of an entire plant at a time, I had to carefully isolate individual plants and cut. It took about 5 minutes just to harvest the basil because of how much care had to be taken.

Because of the Thai basil’s rate of growth — plus other herbs as you’re about to see — my AeroGarden Farm Plus maintenance schedule is now moving to at minimum once week.

It is so nice having a never-ending supply of Thai basil in the house since it’s something I can’t buy in-store where I live.

Above is a comparison of the Thai basil two weeks ago (top left), one of the pretty Thai basil flowers from today (top right),  the Thai basil before harvest today (bottom left) and the Thai basil today after harvest (bottom right). It’s difficult to see how much was harvest, but you can kind of tell how far below the Manitoba tomato the top of the basil is now.

Oregano

The oregano is growing like a weed, as it should.

After six weeks in the Farm Plus, the oregano is really starting to spread out. It’s really difficult to tell from the above image, but it’s also growing through other plants. Two weeks ago after harvesting, it measured 4 cm (1.6 inches). Today before harvesting, the oregano measured 14 cm (5.5 inches). That is a lot of growth in two weeks. After today’s harvest, the oregano measures 8 cm (3 inches).

Left: Oregano two weeks ago before harvest. Center: Oregano today before harvest. Right: Oregano today after harvest.

The oregano is quite thinned out after today’s harvest. I really love how this herb grows. It reminds me of ivy.

Catnip

There is still no image of the catnip. Sad trombone. I had to replant the catnip on February 7 and move it to the bottom-center pod as it simply wasn’t getting any light where it was. The grow dome currently has a lot of condensation, so hopefully in two weeks, we’ll have something to see!

Cumin

The cumin is trying so hard to find light. I love it.

Two weeks ago, the cumin had just come out of it’s grow dome, while it’s neighbouring plants were beginning to turn into a jump. As you can tell by the comparison picture above, the cumin is growing towards the right in a resilient search for light. I had to move the trellis that used to live in the middle of the garden to the left of the cumin to keep the mint and Thai basil from blocking all of its light. I also had to keep re-positioning the Manitoba tomato branches and bell pepper leaves. It should be a lot happier after today.

Two weeks ago, (pictured left) the cumin was 2 cm. Today, (pictured right) the cumin is 4 cm. Not a huge amount of growth. However, considering that it’s been having to fight for light, I’m pretty impressed that it just hasn’t died.

I’m growing this plant simply for the seeds since I use a lot of cumin seeds in cooking.

Cilantro 1

The cilantro 1 is also growing sideways in its attempt to get light.

After six weeks, I finally have some cilantro to show you in the first cilantro pod! As a reminder, I had to reseed this pod. The dome came off on February 3. Today, this cilantro plant measures 6 cm (just over 2 inches). The oregano was pushing it around. Hopefully after today’s harvest, this cilantro will start pushing back on the oregano.

Cilantro 2

The second cilantro plant after harvest

I had a really difficult time getting an picture of the cilantro before harvest because the mint was wild! After harvest two weeks ago, it measured 3 cm (1.2 inches). Today, before harvest, the cilantro measured 15 cm (6 inches).After today’s harvest, it measures 7 cm (just under 3 inches). It’s at the point now where it’s growing leaf sets. Today, I decided to just trim it back one leaf set. Once the plant starts to fill out more, I’ll decide if I’ll cut entire stems, or continue trimming back by leaf sets.

Next maintenance, hopefully I can get some good before harvest shots for some nice comparisons.

Mint

The mint is doing a million times better in the Farm Plus than in the Sprout LED and it’s thriving in the Sprout LED.

Like the Thai basil, harvesting the mint was pretty daunting and time-consuming for the same reasons. It was just everywhere! After about 5 minutes of careful harvesting, the mint is much more manageable. It should make next week’s harvest easier. Hopefully, anyway. We’ll have to wait and see.

After Week 5 harvest, the mint measured 7.5 cm (3 inches). Before today’s harvest, the mint measured 25 cm (10 inches). That is a ridiculous amount of growth! The mint is doing very well in my Sprout LED but it has nothing on how well the mint is growing in the AeroGarden Farm Plus. After today’s harvest, the mint measures 16 cm (just over 6 inches).

The left image is the mint two weeks before harvest, and my mind was blown then. The top right image is the mint today before harvest. It’s devouring everything! The bottom right is today after harvest. It still looks like a wild child, but isn’t. You can actually see the neighbouring cilantro and Italian parsley now, plus you can tell there is catnip growing.

Italian Parsley

The Italian parsley after harvest

After six weeks of growing in my Farm Plus, I got to harvest a little bit of Italian parsley. Like the second cilantro plant, I couldn’t get a good before shot because the mint wouldn’t allow it. Next update, we should have some nice comparison photos.

On January 31, the Italian parsley measured 4 cm (1.6 inches). Today, before harvest, it measured 18 cm (just over 7 inches). After harvest, it measures 10 cm (4 inches).

And here is what the the left side of the Farm Plus looked like before and after harvest.

Once again, every herb has their own space and lighting. I can’t wait to compare this side in two weeks!

I harvested a mountain of herbs today. I don’t have a cutting board big enough to showcase each herb

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 6 – Right Side Walk Through

My fruits are just a giant blob of leaves.

Once again, you’ll have to steel yourself for a few of the updates from the right side of the garden. Today’s maintenance included the daily pollination of flowering fruits and a whole bunch of pruning!

When I look at comparison photos, I can’t believe this is real. Outside, we are having freak snowstorms which are breaking decades-long records and inside, I have a jungle.

Top: The right side two weeks ago. Bottom: The right side today before pruning.

HOW IS THIS EVEN REAL?! Sorry for yelling, but seriously, how?

Manitoba Heirloom Tomatoes

Left: The front of the Manitoba tomato before harvest. Right: The back before harvest.

As a reminder, the Manitoba Heirloom were planted on January 11, 2019. On January 31 (Week 4), this tomato plant measured 12 cm (4.7 inches). In the last two weeks, I’ve had to tend to this tomato quite a bit and a lot of things have happened! Let me run it down for you:

  • Pruned on February 4 (didn’t measure, sorry).
  • Pruned on February 7 (didn’t measure again, sorry).
  • Flower buds appeared February 9 — less than one month after planting!
  • Pruned on February 11 (didn’t measure, sorry).
  • Buds turn to flowers Feb 12; pollinate every day.
  • Pruned February 14 — will get to measurements in a moment.

Here is an of the Manitoba tomato buds and flowers. In a few more days, fruit will begin to grow. The picture of the flowers was taken about 30 minutes after the lights came up. During the day, they open up quite a bit. I’ll take a picture to show you during the next update in two weeks.

And now for those measurements. Today before pruning, the Manitoba tomato measured 38 cm (just under 15 inches)! That is 26 cm (almost a foot) of growth in two weeks. After I pruned the Manitoba tomato, is measures 30 cm (1 foot).

AeroGarden has these confusing instructions on how to prune tomatoes and peppers. They say something like, after 5 – 6 weeks, count up so many leaf sets and chop off the top. Well, if I had done that, I would have chopped off the buds for my Manitoba tomatoes and all of my peppers! We can’t do that.

Instead, I treat each of them as a tree: cutting off a few limbs that are getting really big and taking away resources from new growth. Also, any tomato branches that hang out the back more than 6 cm (2 inches), I cut them back. I’ll include these pruning instructions in the site’s FAQ.

And here are some comparison photos of the Manitoba tomato:

Far left: Manitoba tomato at Week 4. Top Left: Manitoba Tomato front Week 6 before harvest. Top Right: Week 6 back before harvest. Bottom Right: Front Week 6 after harvest. Bottom Right: Back Week 6 after harvest.

It’s a little difficult to see how much I pruned by looking at the front images, but if you look at how much more visible to garden floor is and look at the back, you can see just how much was chopped away. It took quite a few minutes to prune this beast.

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

My poor cherry tomatoes can’t get a break.

My cherry tomatoes are trying so hard but they can’t get a break. The other fruits took off so quickly, they never got the light they needed. Maybe after today’s pruning, they’ll do a bit better, but the lights are now too high really.

They were about 1 cm two weeks ago. today, they were 1.5 cm (just over 1/2 inch). We will see if some miracle happens, but I’m not holding out hope.

Serrano Peppers

I’m so very impressed with how the Serrano is doing, especially after slightly one month old.

Another reminder about the Serrano peppers: Like the Manitoba tomatoes, this was planted four and a half weeks ago on January 11, 2019. On February 6, they started to grow flower buds (26 days after planting) and that is when I started to pollinate. Yesterday, the flowers started to open.

Today was the first pruning. I cut a bunch off the bigger leaves off that were taking away from the resources from the new growth and the buds. Today, the Serrano pepper measures 22 cm (8.7 inches). It’s a little hard to pinpoint which pepper is the Serrano in the top image. It’s right in the centre.

Below is a comparison to last week, before and after pruning, and a picture of tiny flowers.

The seeds for both the Manitoba tomato seeds and Serrano pepper seeds were purchased from West Coast Seeds, in case you are curious and want to get yourself some magic seeds.

Sweet Bell Peppers

I think I’m going to call the bell pepper plant “Monster Pepper”.

A lot of work has also gone into the sweet bell pepper plant over the last two weeks. Here is a summary:

  • Flower buds appeared February 3 on day 31
  • Pollination started
  • Pruned February 7
  • Pruned February 11
  • Pruned February 14

To help give you another reference to understand how quickly the fruits are growing in the AeroGarden Farm Plus: Two weeks ago, the bell pepper plant measured 6.5 cm (2.6 inches). Today, it measured 16 cm (6.3 inches). It may not seem like a lot, but it’s a much quicker rate of growth than if these were growing in soil.

The top left image was the bell pepper two weeks ago. The top right, today. The bottom right is a picture of one of its many big flower buds. Finally, the bottom right is after cutting off a bunch of limbs.

Jalapeno Peppers

The jalapeno pepper is just as impressive as the rest.

The jalapeno pepper has too many buds to count. I can’t wait for it to start producing fruit, because it’s going to give me a lot! It, too, has had a lot of maintenance over the last two weeks:

  • Flower buds appeared February 3 on day 31
  • Pollination started
  • Pruned February 7
  • Pruned February 14

Two weeks ago, the jalapeno measures a whopping 8 cm (3.15 inches). Today, it measured a massive 22 cm (8.7 inches). The leaves on both the bell pepper and jalapeno pepper are bigger than my hands.

Top left is the jalapeno pepper two weeks ago. Top right, today before pruning. Bottom left, one of its massive flower buds. Bottom right, today after pruning. You can now see the red-fire chili and the purple super hot.

Red-Fire Chili

Don’t let the size of the red-fire chili fool you.

Compared to its cousins, the red-fire chili is a tiny pepper plant to begin with. So, don’t let it’s size deter you. It was deterring me before I looked at pictures of it from two weeks ago. Today, there was no maintenance for it, aside from making sure its light was being blocked. For the last two weeks, every day involved moving bell pepper and jalapeno pepper leaves around in order to unblock the red-fire’s light.

Two weeks ago, it measured 2 cm (just under 1 inch). Today, it measures 8 cm (just over 3 inches). The red-fire chili is a slowly but surely plant.

Purple Super Hot Peppers

The purple super hot was also planted later in the season. It, too, is flowering.

The purple super hot was planted on January 11, while the majority of the garden was planted on January 3, 2019. Like the red-fire chili, it is a smaller pepper plant.

Two weeks ago, this plant measured 4.5 cm (1.8 inches). Today, it measures 12 cm (just shy of 5 inches). Its flower buds appeared on February 6, just over three weeks after planting. That is when I started to pollinate it. Yesterday, the flowers started to open.

Left: Purple super hot two weeks ago. Middle: Today. Right: Its cute little pink flowers.

After I was was done pruning everything, the pile of leaves and branches filled half of my counter-top compost bin.

A huge pile of leaves from today’s pruning session. The bell pepper and jalapeno pepper leaves smell like the actual pepper.

Because so much was covered, below is an image of the right side before and after today’s pruning session.

After pruning, you can see individual fruits again!

The pile of leaves above doesn’t allow one to appreciate how much was pruned, but this before and after image does. One last before and after image before we get to my journal: The entire AeroGarden Farm Plus before and after harvesting and pruning on Week 6.

How to Pollinate Your Fruits in the AeroGarden

If the fruits were growing outdoors, the wind would pollinate them. Inside, there are three ways you can pollinate:

  1. Shake your plants side to side 10 times every day (this is the method I use).
  2. Put a fan next to your gardens and turn it on for 30 minutes each day.
  3. By the AeroGarden ‘Be the Bee’ little pollinator fan.

Always pollinate your fruits when the lights are on.

My AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 6 Journal Update


Now that I’m pollinating, I’ve added butterflies as a sign. It’s also a good thing that upkeep will now be more regular as I keep running out of log space for my fruits.

So far, this experiment is going well and I’m learning a lot for when I get my second AeroGarden Farm Plus. I can’t wait until I start seeing fruit in the next few days.

So, that is that! Exciting things!

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.

2 Comments
  • Jen Jones
    Posted at 18:00h, 18 February Reply

    This is so exciting! I finally had a chance to plant my Aerogarden last night, and seeing the progress yours has made gives me so much hope for mine!

    • Jules Sherred
      Posted at 18:04h, 18 February Reply

      Please remember to keep me updated about the progress of your garden! I can’t wait to hear about all those exciting things!

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