That really depends on how you look at it. Many people love them for growing small herb gardens, and for starting plants for other systems (inside or outside). But there not really functional for growing larger plants, so it really depends on what you want to grow. Their to small to grow anything of any real size, larger than herbs. The tallest AeroGarden’s give you about 3 feet maximum for the total plant height, and is only about 18 inches wide. Those run about $170. The problem with florescent lighting for tall plants is that only the top leaves will get the benefit of the grow lights. The bottom leaves wont receive enough light to grow well if at all. Simply because they are too far from the light source, also the upper leaves can block the light from getting to the lower leaves.
What makes an AeroGarden work?
Like I mentioned before, it’s basically nothing more than a self contained aeroponic, flood and drain or water culture system depending on the model. But a small hydroponic system is easy to build yourself (even a large one). It probably wont look as neat, but will function just the same. In the AeroGarden hydroponic and aeroponic home gardens, the plant roots are suspended in the air above a reservoir of nutrient rich water. A pump delivers the nutrient solution via channels directly across the plant roots, and then drips back into the reservoir.
The basic principal of hydroponic systems remain the same in any case, the roots get wet regularly with the nutrient solution. If grown indoors, it will need a light source like with the AeroGarden’s florescent grow light. You would also need a timing device for the pump that feeds the roots, as well as the on/off of light. This would involve 2 separate timers, unless you turn them on and off manually yourself.
You cant really beat the stylish looks of the AeroGarden, but if you feel comfortable building things, you can easily build your own garden if you understand how the six different (Drip Systems, Ebb-Flow, NFT, Water Culture, Aeroponics and Wick System) types of hydroponic systems work. You can also customize the system to accommodate the size, and number of plants you were planing to grow when you build your own systems. The downside is that you will need to piece the system together yourself. First you would need to decide what type of system would be best for the plants you were planning, how it will be watered, and overall size of the full grown plant etc..
Then you would need to decide if you were going to grow in natural lighting or if you wanted to build your own florescent lighting system. You could easily find a hood at a local hardware store, then outfit it with as many compact florescent grow lights (CFL’s) as you needed. Or you could find an inexpensive florescent tube fixture, and just replace the florescent tube with a high output florescent tube. Though again, florescent grow lighting may not work well for larger plants, say over about 2 feet. So if your planing to grow larger plants, you may want to steep up the lighting, or simply grow them in natural sunlight.
It really comes down to what it is you wanted to grow, if you feel comfortable building your own hydroponic system or not, and if the overall stylish looks of the AeroGarden are an important factor to you. Also the AeroGarden system monitors itself to create the ideal growing conditions for small plants, and it even alerts you when it’s time to add more water and nutrients. It does come with a florescent light, so even a low-light spaces is suitable.
For those who would like to just get started right away, without needing to research what makes a hydroponic system work, and/or don’t really want to need to piece things together to build there own system, the AeroGarden is a good way to get your feet wet. The AeroGarden is also a good choice for those who just want to grow some fresh herbs on their counter-top for cooking with. The ease of use factor is also a big plus for new hydroponic gardeners, and you really cant beat the stylish good looks of the AeroGarden systems. So it really comes down to your personal preferences.
AeroGarden Reviews: What you NEED TO KNOW!