What’s the alternative to the Aerogarden? are the others any good…

Are the Aerogarden alternatives any good or is it still the best?

Since it’s launch years ago, the aerogarden has been improved to make it easier and easier to use…

miracle-gro aerogarden harvest lit up
Aerogarden Harvest

But over the years there have been other systems playing catchup…

Have they overtaken the aerogarden……

Are they better than the aerogarden now and more value for money…

Do these systems really work….

Let’s find out…..

How does the aerogarden work

To grow hydroponically you need certain conditions to be met…

These are the things a plant needs to thrive

You need light, water, nutrient, support and air….

And the Aerogarden does all of these, except forcing air onto the plants…

The grow bowl holds the water and food, or nutrient, for the plants…

The pump moves the nutrient mix around the roots of the plant and then drops the excess down to the reservoir, while oxygenating the water so keeping it healthy for the roots…

The pods provide support through the growing medium, be it ones you have made or the original peat ones…

The lights are automatically controlled to give your plants the optimum day length..every day rather than the intermittent sun behind different thickness of clouds…

The air circulating around the plants give them carbon dioxide, which they use to convert to energy in photosynthesis…

So as you can see the aerogarden is a pretty good hydroponics system….

But what about the others on the market …

How do they stack up…

Similar systems to the aerogarden

Looking on the market, there are a lot of alternatives becoming available…

In this article we are going to look at an aerogarden clone  and the click and grow system 3….

So starting with the aerogarden clone, similar to the moistenland hydroponics growing system…

What are the differences and will the more cost effective one grow more crops…

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The moistenland unit(#ad) while being similar has a few subtle differences…

The reservoir

click to find out more about the Moistenland hydroponics unit #ad

The nutrient reservoir is attached to the light stalk, so not independently removable….

Why is this important…

Well if you are emptying it then you have to take the whole unit to the sink and tip it, although there is a drain plug on the bottom of the bowl…

If you get bugs and want to wash down your herbs then again you need to take the whole unit….

Under reservoir heating

The aerogarden has the electronics situated in a base unit….

And the electronics may appear old fashioned and weightly…but there is a reason for that….

They still use a transformer to convert the voltage…

This transformer is not perfect and generates some heat loss….

harvest control panel
harvest control panel

This heat loss then is transferred to the grow bowl and heats the nutrient mix….

The plants grow better when the nutrients are warmer…

So for the moistenland unit i will try a grow cycle as is …

Then try one with it on a heat mat and see if there is a difference….

The reservoir pumps

The aerogarden pumps the nutrient mix over the seed pods, so at the start the seed pods will be kept wet with warmed nutrient for optimal growth….

And while growing the pumped nutrient is going over the root system…

One downside is the complexity of the channels required….

And the fact the roots find the channels and grow down then, eventually blocking them….

The moistenland unit has a pump that recirculates the mix in the reservoir, oxygenating it…

But does not pump it around to the pods…

So the bottom of the pods must be in the water at the start of the growing cycle or they will dry out…

Once the roots have extended down then they will be fine over the range of the reservoir, but at the start keeping the water level high will be important…

Grow lights hood

Both appear similar…

The aerogarden with the led grow light has a scattering of red and blue leds…

harvest led grow light
harvest led grow light

These are on all the time and only the duration changes for the different modes ( or at least on my units) are selectable from the control panel…

With the moistenland unit you can choose from lights on, off , veg or flower…

Lights on and off are obvious…

The vegtable mode activates the blue leds with the red ones off …allowing for more stimulus of the vegetative mode in the plants…

And when the part of the cycle is right for the growth of flower or seeds then you can activate the red leds and switch off the blue….

When you first switch on all of the leds are on…

So when changing the nutrient by unplugging you should remember to change the modes if you want to …

Will it make much difference…probably not with so few leds of that color…

Circulating air

The aerogarden has no method of moving air…

And this, with a very crowded grow table can cause issues of mildew and more susceptibility to bugs…

I have experienced an outbreak of bugs and am trying to get them under control with out resorting to extreme measures…

The moistenland unit does have a fan in the grow light hood…

How effective it will be is to be seen…

It maybe there to keep the temperature of the light hood down…

Led’s lifetime is partially determined by the temperature of them …so the cooler you can run them the longer they will last..

So instead of 5 years they may last 10 years if you can lower the temperature of them by 5 degrees….it does make a difference…

But the fan comes on with the pump.. 30 mins on and 30 mins off….

How effective it will be and noisy will be the subject of part of the full review…

so that is the main differences between the moistenland and the aerogarden….

What about the click and grow 3 and the aerogarden….

Click and grow

click to find out more about the click and grow 3 system #ad

This is going to be difficult as it operates on a different type of hydroponic system….

The click and grow is a wick system…

Meaning the water in the reservoir ( and note i didn’t say nutrient mix) is drawn up to the base of the plant pods by a wick in a similar way that plants draw the water up from the roots via capillary action…

It has a full spectrum light bar, on the three system consisting of three high powered white leds…

The height of the bar is adjustable through the addition of a spacers…

The lights operate from a timer, that is not adjustable…

The pod material is more of a soil based one as this contains all of the nutrients the plant needs for it s grow season…

It is a very simple system and time will tell how well it works…

You can see more in my full review on the click and grow 3 unit

Is the aerogarden value for money

The pricing of the aerogarden units has kept on rising…

Are they worth the money now….

This is a difficult one as they do work well as indoor hydroponic units…

For what you get and the little design elements that keep this just above the competitors i would say that as a complete unit it still represents value for money…

If you are prepared to add bits to your unit then it may be that the clones are starting to move into their territory….

The clones will grow plants, but you will need to supply nutrients and seeds to start with…

The reason behind this is to reduce the transmission of plant diseases and uncontrolled nutrients apparently…

The pricing of the seed pods and nutrient is starting to put people off the initial purchase…

There is aftermarket nutrients that do perform as well, if not better than the aerogarden one…

But they take a bit more work…

And that is the thing …if you want it very easy then stick with the aerogarden and replacement seed pods…

The system is well proven…

If you want to branch out a bit then you can with either the aerogarden or clones…

And you can then try different systems, like the click and grow, and see the difference…

But for starters who want results then the most complete out of the three systems above is the aerogarden….

What hydroponic system is most efficient

The most efficient system is the one that gives the plant the best of everything…

And in my opinion that would be aeroponics…

Where the roots of the plant are sprayed with a nutrient solution every now and again and then allowed to be exposed to air…

A carbon dioxide mix would be released to the upper section so the foliage can absorb as much as it wants…

The nutrient mix would be monitored for pH and EC continuously and adjusted as required to give the plant the best food

There would be a random direction and strength breeze as with nature, to strengthen the plant…

And a light mover and color changer to give the appearance of a full sun cycle…

With longer and shorter days to stimulate the growth patterns of the plants…

This would be more difficult to achieve with many different species of plants…

But practically the aerogarden is not far off it…

A few adjustments of light pattern and the addition of air movement, with carbon dioxide injection if needed…

The reservoir can be stimulated more with the addition of a bubbler stone and aquarium pump to stimulate the roots…

But if this is the case you need to check the pH of the nutrients as bubbling air through it can lower it to the point of nutrient lockout…

Is it worth growing indoors

Hmmm…that is a difficult one to answer…

For many gardeners is it not just about planting plant to use as food…

It is about the lifestyle…being outdoors in nature and interacting with it…

If you are after herbs to cook with that are on hand and easy to grow…then definitely yes…

If you live in an apartment with little or no access to your own outdoor space then yes.. get growing your indoor garden…

If you have allergies that prevent you from gardening, then definitely try indoor gardening, but make sure you go slowly and seek advice from a professional medical person to make sure it is as safe as you can be…

But growing plants can be rewarding not just from the picking and cooking with or using, but just from the growing of them…

I am sure that the green color stimulates something within us from our years on the planet, so to deny ourselves of this is to deny our senses…

plant growth feb 19 - gone mad
overflowing Aerogarden

A lot of us try and grow plants in pots, and a lot fail…

But growing in these hydroponic units is different…

Most of the work is taken care of…

Even if you just top up with water when it flashes for a month then you will still have plants that are alive…they can take a lot of abuse…

But treated with care and attention they will reward you with a bountiful crop to be enjoyed…

So yes…whether it is the aerogarden, the moistenland or even the click and grow unit…they are all worth using to create a little green oasis within your living space….

Thanks for reading.

Website | + posts

I have been growing plants hydroponically since 2009. For years before that i was reading books and looking at systems and saying ...no way...
But once i had taken the plunge with the tomatoes outside, then there was no stopping me.
I tried out most of the systems and started to refine them, getting the plants to grow more efficiently.
Now I am more interested in indoor hydroponics and the challenges it presents. Being able to control the environment, feeding the correct nutrients and giving the correct length and type of lighting....

6 thoughts on “ What’s the alternative to the Aerogarden? are the others any good…”

  1. Hi Phil,

    An absolutely fascinating subject, which I had very little knowledge of before reading your article. I can see the attractiveness of being able to grow plants indoors in this way, although I agree that for many gardeners, being outside is the key thing for them.

    Is this type of growing suitable for a vegetables generally? I see you mention about growing tomatoes this way, but would it work for beans, courgettes and so on?

    This is definitely something I want to learn more about

    Thanks

    John

    Reply
    • Hey John, Thanks for dropping by and commenting….

      I agree it is a fascinating subject and one that once bitten you are addicted….

      I do feel this is the way forward with more and more land being turned into housing leaving less to be used to feed us…

      Hmmm…growing vegetables is ok in these hydroponics systems as long as they are not root veg…so potatoes, parsnips, carrots are out in these machines….

      You can grow root veg in other systems and i have successfully grown potatoes in one…to my suprise…

      but in these smaller indoor units you are limited to herbs and the smaller crops like lettuce and dwarf tomateos…

      it is still fun….

      There are units like the Aerogarden Farm that are tall enough to grow beans and courgettes, but i lack the space for them…

      Let me know if you want more info to get started….

      Phil

      Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing this brilliant article with us all here. I have to say that I found it to be a very intriguing, interesting and educational. Although, with the size of this flat, I would need to do away with my bed if i wanted to put a garden like this in. I thought it would be a great idea to have an old aircraft carrier and convert the whole thing into a self sustainable aero or hydro garden warehouse, and sail it out into international waters and anchor it. Have it pwered by wave generators.

    Reply
    • Hi, thanks for dropping by and commenting…..

      i would say that you can, if you want to , grow hydroponically within your flat…

      These units are ideal for fitting into spaces where you think nothing will grow as they contain their own lighting….

      The smaller units are no larger than a large sausepan…a bit taller with the light stem…but that sort of size and the flavor of the herbs you grow….so fresh and fragrant….. 

      and if you have wall space you are not using then this can be used with effectively a bucket of nutrient at the bottom…tomatoes or cucumber fresh from the vine…..check out my deep water culture post….

      the ideal at the moment would be to use roof space of supermarkets to grow lettuce and other veg and herbs, so there are a lot less food miles and you get fresher food…maybe even with roots on them so they last longer…

      But i like the idea of reusing out of date tech for this and renewable energy to help grow the plants….

      Thanks for the idea….

      Reply
  3. You have provided some very informative information but it has created some questions, also, for me. It would help if you could show a moving interactive chart to demonstrate what are are saying. Diagrams would also help me to understand more. A concise pros and cons chart would help to simplify things. In climates where there are cold winters, it is valuable to get out ; when possible, to grow an outdoor garden. This is only reasonable possibly for only 4 months of the year. There is a huge interest in indoor gardens because vegetables must be imported at this time of year are very expensive. But to convince these people that they can make a beneficial indoor garden you must answer the following questions: What kind of vegetables can be grown safely indoors? How much crop can be expected? How much space is required? These are definitely answers that I will need answered before I invest in such a system. Answer these questions and you have something that many people will be interested in.

    Reply
    • Hi, Thanks for reading and commenting….

      I cannot imaging living somewhere that i could only grow for four months of the year….

      But indoor gardening would be ideal for this environment, even if it doesn’t cover your whole requirements it will cover some and the crop will be really fresh….

      you can’t expect to grow everything, most root crops are more difficult to grow, but not impossible…

      so growing top crops, fast or slow growing can both be done…

      I recently finished a pair of chilli plants that i had kept alive for over twelve years, producing chillis all year round…

      but indoors, if you have a clear wall then you can use this as both a vertical system and a horizontal one…

      so growing beans, peas or vine crops, tomatoes, cucumber or the like is possible…

      The horizontal would be ideal for herbs, salad crops, radish or similar…

      you can have a common reservoir of nutrient and pump it around to the various systems…

      you will also need lighting and to keep them between 18C and 22C for ideal growth….

      how much of a crop, normal hydroponics can increase the yield by four times as you are providing an ideal environment for your plants….

      the unit reviewed here is a small countertop one, but there are systems that are floor mounted allowing full height and enclosed to keep the environment as close to ideal growing conditions as possible…

      when can you grow….with you controlling the environment conditions then anytime during the year, you are less constrained by climatic conditions…

      i have eaten lettuce grown indoors on new years day…

      if you can let me know more information about what types of veg you want to grow them i may be able to advise more….

      phil

      Reply

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