Disabled Garden: Benefits of AeroGarden-ing

Disabled Garden: Benefits of AeroGarden-ing

Gardening has a lot of health benefits, both physical and mental health. However, if you’re disabled with mobility issues, even growing small potted plants indoors can take way too many spoons. That is where the AeroGarden comes in. The benefits of AeroGarden-ing are many.

After purchasing my first two AeroGarden, I immediately fell in love, just like when I purchased my first Instant Pot.

Before getting into the health benefits of AeroGarden-ing, let’s start with the basics.

What is an AeroGarden?

Created by Miracle-Gro, the AeroGarden is a hydroponics garden. There are many models from which to choose, starting with a two-plant model for children, all the way up to 24 plants. Each AeroGarden comes with seed pods, nutrients, grow domes and instructions. The AeroGarden is also fool-proof.

There are some things you need to know before purchasing an AeroGarden. The first is that the lights are really bright and are on for a minimum of 16 hours per day. The second is that the water circulation pump does make some noise. Some people may find the hum comforting. Others with sensory issues may find it very difficult to deal with. You’ll probably want to place your AeroGarden somewhere where the lights and noise won’t prevent you from sleeping. Models smaller than the Farm can fit on the kitchen counter, if you have the counter space. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have an extra room that can be your gardening room.

I strongly recommend starting with the AeroGarden Sprout LED, which is the three-plant model, to see if AeroGarden-ing is right for you. Often, they are on sale and you can purchase two of them for the price of the AeroGarden Harvest, which is six plants. Also, it’s easier to find a home for it where the noise and lights won’t bother you.

AeroGarden also has a great YouTube channel with a lot of resources to help you out.

Finally, in the long-run, it will save you money, especially if you live north because you can garden all year round. If you purchase Grow Anything kits or the sponges, labels and nutrients separately instead of the pre-packed themed kits, it will cost you only a few dollars per plant which will provide fresh herbs and vegetables for six – twelve months. If you buy the sponges and labels separately, you will need an iron to affix the labels. You don’t need to buy the new grow domes or grow baskets because the ones you start with are re-usable.

The Physical Health Benefits of AeroGarden-ing

There are numerous physical health benefits of the AeroGarden.

1. AeroGarden-ing Allows You to Grow Fresh Herbs and Vegetables All Year Round

Being able to grow fresh herbs and vegetables year-round is great. Especially if you live in Canada where these things are imported during the winter and prices go up. Also, the farther north you live, the more expensive these items are and AeroGarden-ing will make these items affordable.

2. AeroGarden-ing Is Healthier

All AeroGarden seed kits are free from pesticides. They are also non-GMO, if that is something that concerns you. It doesn’t concern me because a lot of foods we eat, like corn and bananas, are genetically modified. Anytime you create a hybrid, you modifying the genetics of a plant. If you decide to go the grow anything route and it’s important to you to have seeds that are non-GMO and organic, then I recommend getting your seeds from West Coast Seeds.

3. AeroGarden-ing Takes Minimal Physical Effort

This is the most important thing for me. Most days, it’s a challenge just to feed myself, never mind feed and water potted plants or an outdoor garden. Outdoor gardening is also back-breaking and not at all conducive if you have mobility issues.

Nothing chaps my biscuits more than disability gardening tips that say things like raise your outdoor beds or make wider paths if you are in a wheelchair. These modifications are way more expensive than purchasing an AeroGarden and it doesn’t solve the problems of wasted spoons having to tend to your garden, having to stand for long periods of time if you are not in a wheelchair, dealing with weather changes that may exasperate your health conditions, and the list goes on. You may also not have the physical outdoor space for a garden.

The fool-proof part of AeroGarden-ing is also important. Even if I had the spoons to tend to indoor potted plants, they always end up dying because I forget to water and feed them or I over-water them.

You don’t have to think while AeroGarden-ing. The only maintenance is pruning every couple of weeks to start, then more regularly once your garden really gets going, and adding water and nutrients every couple of weeks. It takes less than 10 minutes per week to tend to your gardens.

To solve the standing issues — I can’t stand for more than a couple of minutes — place your gardens on a counter top or a low dresser so you can pull up a chair and sit while you garden. I have my gardens on a six-foot long dresser in their own room and I keep a chair in that room.

The Mental Health Benefits of AeroGarden-ing

Just like the physical health benefits of AeroGarden-ing, there are many mental health benefits.

1. Gardening Is Just Good for Your Overall Mental Health

You’ve probably heard somewhere that the only time you’ll gain mental health benefits from gardening is if it’s outdoor gardening. This simply isn’t true and it’s very ableist. Gardening is gardening. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoor or outdoor, potted or hydroponic, it still gives you something to do on a regular basis and brings you joy as you watch the fruits of your labour. Ableism tells us that we have to put in huge amounts of effort to do something, otherwise we are lazy. That’s bull. When you are AeroGarden-ing, you are accomplishing great things.

2. AeroGarden-ing Helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The AeroGarden’s lights are full-sprectrum. You don’t need a SAD light anymore. Just spend a couple minutes sitting by your AeroGarden and you’ll see your mood starting to improve.

3. AeroGarden-ing Helps with Mood Disorders in General

Whatever your mood disorder, AeroGarden-ing is a great and low-maintenance way to do something positive, while also reaping the physical health benefits. Don’t let anyone tell you that AeroGarden-ing isn’t real gardening. Full stop.

4. AeroGarden-ing Helps with Anxiety Disorders, Including Anxiety Stemming from Austism, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or OCD

No matter what the root of your anxiety is, the mechanism is basically the same: It’s caused by your brain overthinking the what-ifs and just spiraling into obsessive thinking. What AeroGarden-ing does is force you to ground yourself by focusing on the immediate of your environment.

I use Midori Traveler’s Notebooks to help me manage my C-PTSS and anxiety, plus just managing life in general. I’ve started another Midori dedicated to my AeroGardens to help regularly ground me outside of being triggered. Doing regular grounding outside of being triggered will help rewire my brain quicker as I work through things in trauma therapy.

An example of how I use my Midori Travelers Notebook with my AeroGardens for mental health benefits.

I use a blank Midori insert and it’s much more free-form that my other notebooks. I use it draw, add stickers and other decorations, insert Polaroid Zip photos of my gardens’ progress, and quick log entries. Updating this journal takes a lot of time and it’s creative, which helps with my overall mood on top of the regular grounding benefits.

There are other benefits of AeroGarden-ing but for me, these are the most beneficial for helping to manage my physical disabilities and improve my overall mental health.

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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.

5 Comments
  • Elizabeth DeJager
    Posted at 17:56h, 06 January Reply

    Another big fan of Aerogardens here. My household has trouble getting out regularly to the grocery store for various reasons so having salad greens constantly available on the counter has made such a difference for me in eating well. No more greens lost to a recall or cut leaves going off too soon in a store clamshell either. Two Harvest models (6 plants each) planted weeks apart have been just right for two people who like big bowls of salad every other night or so.

    I want to second everything Jules said about the machines being easy gardening, having plants around being cheering, and how much the placement matters due to that super bright glow in dark hours. A cycle of lights on from 3 AM to 7 PM helps us avoid a strong light near bedtime.

    • Jules Sherred
      Posted at 18:00h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks for sharing your AeroGarden-ing joy 🙂

      The tip about the light cycles for models that allow you set on/off times is great! And it just made me realise that if people wanted to stay up until 3 AM to unplug and plug back in their Sprout LEDs, they could accomplish the same. 3 AM is probably unrealistic, but even 11 PM to 3 PM (the Sprouts have a 16-hr cycle) would be a great!

      I’ll have to add an addendum to my Farm Plus and Sprout posts point back to these comments about how to solve the light/noise issue.

      Thanks!

      • Elizabeth DeJager
        Posted at 11:09h, 07 January Reply

        For those models without a timer a vacation timer could be set up on the plug to cut off power to reduce disturbance too.

        • Jules Sherred
          Posted at 11:17h, 07 January Reply

          Another great tip! Thanks 🙂

  • Elizabeth DeJager
    Posted at 18:00h, 26 April Reply

    Came back to say AeroGardens are wonderful as seed starters. Recently moved the seedlings to an outdoor planter and several days later have discovered I have been giving slugs a tasty treat of my once lovely kale, basil, and shiso. So there is another benefit of the indoor gardens, no uninvited slugs.

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