AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 7 Update

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3: Week 7 Update

After 7 weeks of growing in my AeroGarden Farm Plus, I have come to realise that I’ve greatly underestimated how much time it takes to maintain 18 plants in one garden. The good news is that the maintenance remains low spoons and for me, replenishes my spoons.

With the above realisation, I also realised that there is no way I can do two weeks worth of updates in one post, like with my AeroGarden Sprout LEDs. If I were to do them every two weeks, then the posts would be close to 8000 words. So, instead, one even numbered weeks, the post will go up on Thursday — the same day as maintenance — and odd numbered weeks, the posts will go up on Fridays.

This week, I learned another really important thing. This time about the water sensors in the AeroGarden Farm Plus that alert you to when you need to add water since you can’t see how much water is in the tank.

Seven weeks in, and the Farm Plus is still beyond mind-blowing and exceeding my wildest expectations.

Time to jump into this week’s maintenance details, exciting changes to my fruits, more comparison photos to blow your mind, and the thing I learned about the water sensors.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 7 Overview

One week after a major maintenance, the AeroGarden Farm Plus is yet again an overgrown jungle.

Yet again, a lot of changes have happened in the last week. I’ve continued to not only take pictures of each plant’s condition before and after harvest, I’m continuing to created images to easily see the difference. It really is the only way to appreciate just how quickly everything is growing.

Doing so adds a bit of time to each week’s maintenance because I’m stopping to take a huge amount of photos, but I find it very therapeutic and it allows me to truly appreciate the magic that is my AeroGarden Farm Plus.

The catnip still has its dome. It’s only been a couple of week’s since I replanted it. Plus, catnip has a really low germination rate. I’m not worried. If I don’t see anything in a couple more weeks, I’ll just dump more seeds into the pod. Currently, I’m experimenting with how many seeds I need to add to get something to germinate.

Aside from harvesting a lot of herbs in the left garden, yesterday’s maintenance also involved pruning the right garden and changing the way I pollinate the right garden. Yesterday’s maintenance probably took 20 minutes per side. Part of that added time had to do with the thing I learned about the water sensors. The other part had to do with needing to be extra careful when pruning my fruits and my Thai basil being intertwined with so many of its neighbours.

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

Top: The whole Farm Plus after Week 6 maintenance. Bottom: The whole Farm Plus before Week 7 maintenance.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 7 – Left Side Walk Through

All of the herbs are growing into each other’s space.

As you can see in the image, at 7 weeks, yet again there is a lot to harvest in the herb side of my Farm Plus.

Yet again, 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.

Let’s begin with a Week 6 left side after harvest compared to Week 7 left side before harvest.

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

Rosemary

There is a lot of new growth on the rosemary.

I’m very excited to see new growth on the rosemary. Cloning organic rosemary from the grocer was a risk that totally paid off. Rosemary is a perennial and can take up to two years to fully mature when planting from seeds because it has more in common with trees than with other herbs. It’s an herb that required a lot of patience.

Last week, my rosemary was 5 cm (2 inches) tall. This week, it’s 6 cm (almost 2.5 inches) tall. This week’s maintenance involved pinching off some of the leaves that were starting to brown. The browning leaves are completely normal when cloning herbs that have bark.

Sage

The sage was 23 cm (9 inches) before harvest. It was 15 cm (6 inches) after I harvested it last week.

My sage continues to do amazingly well. It grew 7 cm (just over 2.75 inches) since it was harvested last week. After today’s harvest, the sage measured 15 cm (6 inches). Reminder, because of how sage grows, it’s more about reducing its bulk and preventing it from covering neighbouring plants.

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

Left: Sage last week after harvest. Centre: This week before harvest. Right: This week after harvest.

While I was harvesting yesterday, I noticed my herbs had a bit of a droop to them. In the after harvest photo of the sage, that droop is very apparent. We will get to that when I talk about the water pump sensors.

Thai Basil

The Thai basil continues to be a monster.

It’s rather difficult to tell in the above photo exactly how much the Thai basil has bulked out in the last week. Because the Thai basil had no where to grow to its front and sides, it started to also grow out of the garden from behind.

The Thai basil refuses to be confined.

After week 6 harvest, the Thai basil measured 18 cm (7 inches). Yesterday, it measured 27 cm (10.6 inches) before harvest. After the harvest, it measured 19 cm (7.5 inches). Like the sage, the Thai basil had started to wilt but was still thriving.

Yet again, harvesting it was pretty daunting. Not only were there thin stems growing entangled in the mint and basil, but there was a rat’s nest of stems growing out from the back of the garden. This Thai basil had become so massive in the last week, for a couple of stems, I completely ignored the rule of thirds and cut off entire stems. It was much needed and there are at least 10 stems remaining.

With one week between harvests, I was able to fill up 2/3 of a small freezer bag with Thai basil.

Above is a comparison of the Thai basil last week after harvest, this week before harvest and after harvest, plus the back view before and after harvest. Between the Thai basil and Manitoba tomato plant, I’ve learned that with my next AeroGarden Farm Plus, I need to leave space between the wall and the dresser that will house my garden for easier maintenance. I could move the dresser that houses this Farm Plus away from the wall, but then I’d lose my Live Long and Prosper sign.

Oregano

I’ve nicknamed my oregano ‘Sweet Pea’ because of how it grows.

I think oregano is a very pretty herb. I love the way it grows, spreading out like a carpet. Last weeks after harvesting, it measured 8 cm (3 inches). Yesterday before harvesting, the oregano measured 13 cm (just over 5 inches). That is a lot of growth, especially considering the thing that happened with the water pump in the last week. After yesterday’s harvest, the oregano measured 10 cm (4 inches).

Left: Oregano last week after harvest. Top Right: Yesterday before harvest. Bottom Right: Yesterday after harvest.

The oregano is still a nice carpet after yesterday’s harvest. The pruning was mostly about encouraging new growth and removing it from its neighbouring herbs.

Cumin

Left: Cumin last week. Right: Cumin yesterday.

The cumin remains the little herb that could. Yesterday’s photo looks like the cumin is dead. Have no fear, it’s not. The reason why it’s so wilted has to do with the water pump issue I encountered. When I checked on it today, it was perky and happy!

Last week, the cumin measured 4 cm (1.6 inches). Yesterday, it measured 7 cm (2.75 inches). Slowly but surely, and after many challenges, it continues to reach for the light and grow.

Cilantro 1

Cilantro 1 is so very close to being harvest-ready.

I probably could have harvested a couple stems yesterday, but I want to give it one more week before I do its first harvest as it was so slow to start. Last week, this cilantro plant measured 6 cm (just over 2 inches). Yesterday, it measured 7 cm (2.75 inches).

Cilantro 2

This cilantro plant is finally growing like the weed it should.

Last week, I couldn’t take a picture of this cilantro plant before harvest because it was so small, the mint was obscuring it. That completely changed within a week.

After last week’s harvest, it measures 7 cm (just under 3 inches). Yesterday before harvest, it measured 15 cm (6 inches)! After harvest, it measured 8 cm (just over 3 inches).

Finally, I can show you a comparison shot!

Left: Cilantro 2 last week after harvest. Centre: Yesterday before harvest. Right: Yesterday after harvest.

Mint

The mint continues to grow in abundance.

Yet again, like the Thai basil, harvesting the mint was pretty daunting and time-consuming for the same reasons.

After Week 6 harvest, the mint measured 16 cm (just over 6 inches). Yesterday, before harvest it measured 22.5 cm (just under 9 inches). That really is a lot of growth! After yesterday’s harvest, it measured 17 cm (6.7 inches).

Left: Mint last week after harvest. Top Right: This week before harvest. Bottom Right: This week after harvest.

Again, like with the Thai basil, I also trimmed off entire stems of the mint to keep it better under control. Between this mint plant and the mint in my Sprout LED Garden 2, I have two small freezer bags filled with mint.

Catnip

There is still no image of the catnip. Sad trombone. As are reminder, 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. On February 20, I swapped its place with the thyme because the mint kept shading it and the thyme was thriving.

Thyme

I got to do something I didn’t get to do when I tried growing time the first time in my Sprout LED: I got to harvest it!

My thyme is so very happy in the AeroGarden Farm Plus! I actually got to harvest it yesterday! I was unable to get a before shot because the mint was completely obscuring it. The after shot above shows just how well it’s thriving, unlike how the thyme did my Sprout LED Garden 2.

Last week, the thyme measured 5 cm (2 inches). Yesterday before harvesting, it measured 10 cm (4 inches). After harvesting, it measured 6 cm (2.4 inches).

Italian Parsley

The Italian parsley is very happy.

At 7 weeks, I’m finally able to show you a before shot of the Italian parsley because it’s finally growing taller than its neighbouring mint.

Last week after harvest, it measured 10 cm (4 inches). Yesterday before harvest, it measured 18.5 cm (just over 7 inches). After harvest, it measured, 7 cm (2.75 inches). I cut away a number of stems to allow the Italian parsley coming up in the middle room to grow. Below is an image of this parsley last week after harvest, this week before harvest and this week after harvest.

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. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next week!

Top: Week 7 total herb harvest. Bottom: Week 7 pile of Thai basil leaves after being prepared for storage.

Issue with the Left-Side Water Level Sensor in the AeroGarden Farm Plus

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been needing to add 2 litres (roughly 2 quarts) of water to the right side of my AeroGarden Farm Plus every other day. The left side water level alert has barely gone off. I found this odd considering the rate of growth of the herbs, but didn’t really think much of it. During my daily sits in my garden room, I did notice a weird noise coming from the left side of my Farm Plus. It sounded as if the motor was working just a little bit too hard.

So, I’d add a bit of water until that noise quieted. Yesterday when I was harvesting my herbs, I noticed that every single one of them was very droopy, like they had been harvested and were sitting at room temperature for 10 minutes.

The water censor was saying the tank was full. On a whim, I decided to add 2 litres of water. The noise was still there, even if quiet. I added another 2 litres. And then yet another! And then yet another! For a total of 8 litres (just over 2 gallons)! I kept filling the tank until water remained just over the bottom of the area you pour water into where it says “max fill”.

I tried to look into the tank to see what on earth was going on but having only one pod that isn’t planted made that difficult. But from what I could see, it looked like the root systems of the herbs were obscuring the water censor that sends the signal to the Farm Plus’ control panel and app that it needs water.

I was fortunate that I could hear a sound and figure out what was going on. If one is hearing impaired or deaf, they are going to very much rely on the app to tell them that their garden needs water, and now!

The solution: If one side’s water sensor is working correctly and isn’t obscured, then use that as a signal that you need to add water to both sides. Fill your tank until just a little bit of water remains in the fill area. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, once your Farm Plus plants are 5 weeks old, add water every day until just a little bit stays in the fill area.

The great news is, I caught it in time! Today, all of my herbs are back to being very firm. I had to raise the lights today because the Thai basil had grown another 2.5 cm (1 inch) overnight. That is just a testament to the magic that is the AeroGarden Farm Plus!

AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 7 – Right Side Walk Through

My fruits are yet again a jungle.

Once again, you’ll have to steel yourself for a few of the updates from the right side of the garden. Yesterday’s maintenance included a whole bunch of pruning and a change to how I’m pollinating my fruits.

Just as a reminder, below is a comparison of the right side last week after pruning and yesterday before pruning.

Top: Right side last week after pruning. Bottom: Yesterday before pruning.

HOW IS THIS EVEN REAL?! I’m not going to apologize this week for yelling.

Manitoba Heirloom Tomatoes

Left: The Manitoba tomato canopy before pruning. Right: The back before pruning.

I couldn’t get a good picture of the Manitoba tomato plant before pruning from the front, so I decided to do pictures of its canopy. Its canopy is pretty impressive!

As a reminder, the Manitoba Heirloom were planted on January 11, 2019. Last week, after pruning, it measured 30 cm (1 foot). Here is a breakdown of its maintenance and changes in the last week:

  • Pruning February 20 to give light to the its neighbouring cumin.
  • Yesterday, before pruning, it measured 48 cm (19 inches).
  • Continue to pollinate every day after the lights turn on.
  • Six flowers completely open on February 21.
  • Pruned February 21; measured 36 cm after (14 inches).
  • Accidentally knocked off two flowers while pruning; must be more careful.

Hopefully, in a few more days, some of those flowers will be turning into fruit!

 

I continue to prune the Manitoba tomato plant as if its 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 still plan to include these pruning instructions in the site’s FAQ.

And here are some comparison photos of the Manitoba tomato:

Right: Manitoba tomato last week after harvest. Top Left: Canopy yesterday before pruning. Top right: Back before pruning. Bottom left: Canopy after pruning. Bottom right: Back after pruning.

It’s a little difficult to see how much I pruned by looking at images, but if you look at how much more visible to garden floor is and how much more visible the neighbouring pepper canopies are, it’s easier to tell.

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Not much has changed in the last week with the cherry tomato plant.

The fact this fruit is still alive is a bit of a miracle. As I said last week in the Farm Plus Week 6 update, this plant really didn’t have a chance because of how quickly the rest of the fruits took off.

But, it’s still trying its best! The leaves have gotten a big bitter, and it grew from 1.5 cm to 2 cm. Maybe it will surprise us yet. Especially as it is now getting extra light as the sun rises from the garden room window which faces west.

Serrano Peppers

The Serrano pepper after pruning.

Another reminder about the Serrano peppers: Like the Manitoba tomatoes, this was planted four and a half weeks ago on January 11, 2019.

It was impossible to get a before shot of this pepper because the Manitoba tomato and the jalapeno pepper had it completely engulfed in leaves and canopy. Last week, the Serrano pepper measured 22 cm (8.7 inches). Yesterday, it measured 30 cm (1 foot)! It was the fastest growing pepper, in terms of upwards growth, in the last week. Today’s maintenance involved cutting some leaves and daily pollinating. Hopefully, in the next day or so its buds will have opened.

Below is a comparison of last week after pruning to this week after pruning.

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

The sweet bell pepper continues to be a monster plant!

There are so so many buds on this pepper and a lot more has happened between Week 6 and 7. Here is a summary:

  • First flower opened February 20
  • Pruned February 20 to give light to cumin
  • Pruned February 21 to promote growth and give light to buds
  • Changed pollination method February 21

This plant continues to grow rapidly each week. Last week, it measured 16 cm (6.3 inches). Yesterday, it measured 23.5 cm (9.25 inches).

Below is a photo last week after pruning, yesterday before pruning, an opened flower, and yesterday after pruning.


Just like with the Manitoba tomato, hopefully its flowers will turn to fruit in the next few days.

Jalapeno Peppers

The jalapeno pepper has the most flowers, but it’s difficult to see in the before pruning photo.

The jalapeno pepper has too many buds to count and so many flowers it was difficult to count them all, avoiding double counting or missing some hiding in leaves. I still 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 week:

  • First flower opened February 16
  • Pruned February 19
  • Pollination method changed February 21
  • Pruned February 21
  • 12 Flowers opened on February 21

Last week, measured a massive 22 cm (8.7 inches). Yesterday, the jalapeno pepper measured 27.5 cm (just under 11 inches).

Top left is the jalapeno pepper last week after pruning. Top right, yesterday before pruning. Bottom left, the first flower to open the day after it opened. Bottom right, yesterday after pruning. You can now see most of the flowers.

Red-Fire Chili

Right: The red-fire chili last week. Left: Yesterday.

The red-fire chili continues to push slowly but surely. It is the only pepper to not have matured. I’m okay with that. It can take as much time as it needs.

Last week, it measured 8 cm (just over 3 inches). Yesterday, it measured 10 cm (4 inches). Not bad for a plant that keeps getting covered by its neighbours.

Purple Super Hot Peppers

I find it adorable how small this matured pepper is compared to its cousins.

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 compared to its cousins.

There has been an exiting change since last week: Yesterday, one of the cute little buds opened all the way instead of pretending to open like it has for the last week!

Last week, the super hot measured 12 cm (just shy of 5 inches). Yesterday, it measured 15 cm (6 inches).

Top left: Purple super hot last week. Top right: Yesterday. Bottom left: Purple super hot flower yesterday. Bottom right: Today.

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

After only a week, there is yet again a big huge pruning pile.

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

With each passing day, it is getting more and more difficult to resist the urge to buy my second AeroGarden Farm Plus now, instead of after a few fruit harvests to see exactly how many of each fruit I will need.

The top part of the image is the right side yesterday before pruning. The bottom is after. It allows for a much better appreciation of exactly how much needed to be pruned.

Finally, below is an image of the entire garden before and after this week’s maintenance.

The Change in How I Pollinate My Fruits in the AeroGarden Farm Plus

Here is a refresher on how to pollinate indoor-growing fruits:

  1. Shake your plants side to side 10 times every day.
  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.

Up until yesterday, I was using method number one. It was working quite well, as shown in the picture below of pollen on the garden floor.

However, I began to run into an issue with the shaking method: The leaves of the bell pepper and jalapeno were knocking off the buds on the Serrano. Yesterday, I switched to the fan method. I have a multiple speed oscillating fan that is just under 152 cm (5 ft) in height.

On it’s lowest setting, I have standing about a metre away (3 feet) from the garden, pointing at the right side. I also turned off the oscillating feature. When the lights go on in the morning, I turn it on for about 30 minutes. Mid-afternoon, I do the same.

My AeroGarden Farm Plus Garden 3 Week 6 Journal Update


Now that I have flowers, I’ve added flowers to my journal in addition to the butterflies that symbolize pollination. As I was fixing the water issue on the left side of the garden, I accidentally spilled water on my journal. No big deal. I think it gives it character.

I need to calibrate my Polaroid Zip again because of that streak through each image.

Yesterdays long session in my garden room tending to two gardens and spending a lot of time with my journal was so very much needed, as I mentioned yesterday in my Sprout LED Garden 1 update.

I am still extremely please with how this experiment is going! Hopefully, I can hold off on the temptation to get the second AeroGarden Farm Plus now instead of waiting for at least another 6 months. But I simply enjoy AeroGarden-ing way too much. The mental health benefits of AeroGarden-ing have been well worth the costs, never mind how much cheaper my grocery bill will be.

So, that is that! Exciting things!

Let me know if you have any questions! And if you’re brand new to my Farm Plus series, you can catch up here.

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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