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Hydroponic Counter Top Herb Gardens- Are They Worth It?

Herb gardens have been all the rage for the past couple of years, and new advances in hydroponic counter-top  gardens have made having a herb garden even easier.  I decided to try one of these gardens (I was fortunate enough to have received one for Christmas) and see if they are really worth having.  The one I received was the Goodful by AeroGarden Slim Counter-top Garden model in black and Gourmet Herbs seed kit. This kit included six different herbs and the Miracle-Gro plant food solution. The herb kit included Genovese basil, curly parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil and mint.

Following the set up instructions I filled the reservoir with water up to the fill line. I decided to use filtered water. In the state of Nevada where I live, we have hard water and I didn’t want any mineral particulates to accumulate in the tank or affect the growth of the herbs. Next are the pods, they are conical plastic structures filled with a fast-grow compacted soil, the label of each herb is labeled on top along with the amount of days it would take to grow. I placed them in the tank as directed and placed the grow domes (little clear plastic caps) on top.  This would keep the moisture in and help germinate the seeds in each pod. I was missing one of the domes, but I figured it didn’t matter. I later learned that it not only helped the germination stage/ growth stage, but the caps also kept the moisture from evaporating from the tank. Spacing the herbs, as I learned early in the growing process, is a very important thing to keep in mind. Herbs grow at different rates and some take up more space than others, which affect how much light the slower plants will receive.

Over all the setup was easy, I decided to place my garden at the corner of my work desk, to keep track of the amount of water it needed and take note of time the herbs took to grow. This garden model is not bulky and since it has it’s own light system I didn’t need to place it near a window.

Since I initially had just put all the herbs in the garden without giving it a second thought, I later had to move them around in the second week because some herbs were not getting enough light. So if you do decide to purchasing this kit, I would recommend you to place the herbs in this order, Genovese Basil, Mint, Curly Parsley, Thyme, Dill and Thai Basil from left to right. The mint, parsley, and Thyme will take longer to germinate and grow, thus needing longer light exposure for them to grow. So if you place a fast growing herb in the middle of the tank, like I did, such as the Genovese basil, Thai basil or Dill, then you will block the light to the other herbs and delay growth. You will have to move the herbs at a very early stage, and once the roots starts growing and expanding it’s much harder for them to be moved without damaging the root system. The root system will expand in the tank and interconnect with the other herb roots very quickly.

Moldy Thyme and Curly Parsley

I had two herbs, the Thyme and Curly Parsley, that didn’t grow and started to mold. I quickly removed them and used the caps of each to close the opening of the tank. This prevented water from evaporating. It was bummer they didn’t grow, but like with any garden I did expect at least one to be a dud. I learned that you will have to add water to the tank everyday to maintain the necessary water level, these little guys drink a lot.

So each pod has the amount of days it would start to grow, this does not mean that’s when they would be ready for harvest. But once they start to grow, they will grow very fast. I let mine get a little taller, making sure they had a good root and leaf system growing before harvesting.

Overall I learned a lot and enjoyed every bit of the experience. With now mature plants I’ve collected several times from each herb. There is nothing like fresh herbs in the kitchen, and as a special bonus the herbs I’ve trimmed are about twice the size of the ones you would find at any grocery store. This was due to the control of growth, I could decide when to collect once mature.

This project encouraged research on herbs and herb parings (which ones can grow together and which ones would kill each other off), hydroponic garden models, foods that can be grown using this method, and dehydration of herbs. Having a hydroponic counter-top herb garden, in my personal opinion, it’s worth it.

Elizabeth Mapula

2019 Southern Nevada School Wellness Conference

2019 southern nevada school wellness conference

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