Kim told me this morning, shaking her head and angry as hell, as I was working, about this new hydroponic indoor garden device that has just come onto the market here in Australia. It is called the AeroGarden, and it is basically an indoor vegetable garden designed to grow things like cherry tomatoes, chillies, assorted herbs and some flowers. And get this, it costs $249.95 + $29.95 p&h. Add on another $30 for a silver coloured one!
So why is this crazy product? Well for one, you have to plug it in to electricity to make it work, secondly the seed pods that are not reusable and made from plastic, cost $30 each! Thirty dollars for a packet of seeds, what planet are they on? The most I have ever paid for seeds was about $4 and they were heirloom seeds! And get this, you must use special “organic” nutrient tablets. What is wrong with compost and seasol for goodness sakes. This product smells like “green washing” in a big way as far as I am concerned.
Sure, it may have its uses for an apartment dweller, but most apartments have balconies that you can grow veges in pots quite successfully. And the cost of the entire kit just blows my mind. My entire vegetable garden setup, which is now approx 15 sqm in area cost me less than $200 for the materials, soil, and seeds and now that I save seeds each season, it just gets cheaper and cheaper and aparently (not trying to sound to sarcastic), the Sun provides the light to grow the food as nature intended. Not only can I grow about 50% of the food for my family each year, I get far more variety and I don’t use electricity to grow the food. Sure the kit comes with CFL bulbs and the site states that it uses less energy than a 60 watt light bulb. So in typical marketing speak, that means that it is probably rated at 59 watts. For how long is it powered on I ask? If this product is left on 24/7, which I assume it is, that equals 525.6 kilowatt hours of power each year to grow a single crop. That is just plain ridiculous!
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against hydroponics when it is the only solution available, but this product is just plainly over priced, and a marketing ploy to get the masses to consume more useless junk. I do not, in any way, shape or form endorse this product!
Try nature, water, soil, and sunshine. It works for me and many millions of others.
I’ll state up front that I actually work with AeroGrow, stumbled across your post, and felt compelled to comment.
There’s no doubt the AeroGarden isn’t for everyone, but for lots of people, it’s a great way to grow, and sometimes, the only way they can.
I’m a hardcore, outdoor, organic gardener and would never give up digging in the dirt. But I love my AeroGarden because where I live (Colorado, USA) I can only grow outside a few months a year. In addition, I use my AeroGarden to start many seedlings indoors while it’s still snowing outside, for transplant into my outdoor garden when weather allows.
I don’t know what the exchange rate is like, or how they’re priced in Australia, but I can tell you that for what you’re getting, which is a complete indoor growing system — just add water and you’ll be successful — it is more favorably priced than anything else on the market and looks better and is much simpler too. Just the lights on most other indoor gardens cost more than the entire AeroGarden.
As to the electrical consumption, it does use electricity, but only a fraction of the 400 watt grow lights usually used in indoor growing. We spent three years developing the bulbs, and were able to develop a bulb that gives plants everything they need to grow, with no sunlight needed, and still make a garden that pulls less than 60 watts total, less power than most of the low wattage incandescent light bulbs on the market.
And as to “Doesn’t the sun work anymore?” The sun works great if you’re growing outside. And if you live someplace where you can grow and it’s not too hot or too cold much of the year, which eliminates about half the planet right off the bat.
But yhe sun doesn’t work so well inside unless you have a window that gets full sun most of the year. In our early studies, more than 50% of people couldn’t grow vegetables and herbs satisfactorily inside their homes due to lack of sufficient sunlight. That’s where the AeroGarden comes in. You can grow a nice, high-output little garden, any time of year, snow or blasting heat, and you don’t have to have a sunny window or know anything about gardening.
Even when there is sufficient sun to grow indoors, the AeroGarden grows more than twice as fast as plants grown without lights indoors, even under the best conditions.
As to the seed kits, exchange rate aside we’re delivering something that we guarantee with 100% germination, that germinates far faster than plants in soil, that’s easy (drop it in and it grows) and with seeds selected (we’ve tested thousands) to grow well in an aerogarden. You can grow your own seeds too, if you want. And that comes with nutrients (seaweed and mineral salts) that are custom-tuned to grow the plants you’re growing and that include a ph buffer that makes even bad tap water perfect for growing plants hydroponically. There’s a lot more to it than “a packet of seeds.”
I’ve worked on the product for 6 years now, from when it was an idea through the present and continue to believe it provides something you can’t get any other way. It’s fun and lets you have a little bit of nature and fresh green things indoors (I have one next to my computer in the office as I’m typing this). I hope you run into one somewhere in use and get a feel for it’s value. And, I’ll admit it’s possible you’ll never understand why so many people think it’s so cool. That difference in opinions is what makes the world so interesting to me!
I’m glad to answer any questions, continue in dialogue, or anything else you might like. Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks John for your response and the extra marketing spiel. You will note that I mentioned that I do not condone hydroponic systems if used when all else fails. However, I do find that in this very mixed up world, we should not be expending valuable resources, i.e. electricity and oil (in the form of plastic) and market it as a brilliant invention at a cost the average Australian could not afford. I plant seeds in the ground, expend no petrochemicals and they grow just fine and yes they germinate as well! As you rightfully state, differences of opinions are important, however they are also what has made the world the shambles it is in now, as has reckless marketing. I do not love your product as you do and do not wish to converse further on the matter, and stand by my original comments. Have a nice day
Busy Woman says
I personally would not support a product like this because of the fact that is has used so many resources to be produced and shipped all over the world. Advertising will then find a way ( and John has done a remarkable job) of convincing us that we “NEED” this thing.
If we can only grow cetain things at certain times then it’s the way mother nature intended. Work hard in good seasons and preserve for slow seasons. That’s the way it has been for thousands of years and I personally think that when we go against mother nature we eventually pay some price. (*disclaimer: I am in no way employed by affiliated with or receive financial benefit from my mention of mother nature although, at certain times I do recive non financial benefit of which I fully disclose on my blog)