Plants grown in the AeroGarden develop excellent root systems for transplanting into dirt. Here are a few tips for maximizing your success:
1. Prevent transplant shock by hardening your plants off for increasing amounts of time each day until you transplant. Skipping this step is the most common mistake new gardeners make when transplanting plants outdoors. Plants need to “toughen up” from the spa-like conditions in the AeroGarden, getting used to intense sun, wind and cool temperatures. Start with just moving the AeroGarden bowl outdoors, plants and all, for a few hours the first day. Increase the hours each day, being careful not to expose the garden to snow or temperatures close to freezing. The plants will get tougher each day. When they can survive a whole day on a shaded porch, they’ll be ready to go.
2. Transplant on a cooler day. Even if you’ve hardened your plants off, putting them out on a sunny, 90 degree day will guarantee trouble. Pick a cooler, damp, cloudy day for best results.
3. Water. A lot. New transplants need consistently damp soil until they are established. Water every day for a week or more after transplanting, twice a day if it is really hot and sunny.
Expert gardeners know that starting seedlings at home has plenty of advantages over buying starts at the nursery, including:
1. Big Savings – Seeds cost a fraction of what grown plants cost from the nursery. Save hundreds of dollars starting from seeds at home!
2. Big Variety – Your local nursery will sell dozens of varieties of tomato seeds – but likely only a couple of varieties of tomato plants. Experiment and grow what you LOVE!
3. Best Flavor – starting seeds at home lets you save heirloom seeds from your favorite, juiciest harvests and grow them at home year after year. Start a family tradition! Share favorites with friends!
4. Big Harvests – The ability to transplant seedlings to the garden as soon as weather allows gives you a serious jump on the gardening season.
5. Big Color – The Seed Starting System is great for starting flowers too. Replace expensive store-bought bedding plants with starts you’ve nurtured from seed.
6. Big Fun – It’s just plain rewarding to watch seeds sprout indoors and grow, nurtured in ideal conditions, then watch those seedlings take root in an outdoor garden – producing pound after pound of zucchini, melons, spinach, and everyone’s favorite – garden fresh tomatoes.
At AeroGrow, we love gardening – indoors and outdoors. The AeroGarden not only makes it possible to garden indoors year round, but also give you plenty of options for starting seeds indoors for your outdoor garden or containers.
The AeroGarden makes it easy to start plants indoors with near-perfect light, water and nutrients, letting you get a big jump on the outdoor gardening season.
There are three easy ways to start seeds indoors for your outdoor garden, patio planters or containers.
1.) The Seed Starting System lets you start up to 66 seedlings for transplant outdoors. It’s perfect for outdoor gardens or patio containers and gives you a real head start on the gardening season.
2.) The Grow Anything Kit lets you start up to 7 plants in the AeroGarden, with plenty of room to grow. This is perfect for larger “summer” crops like peppers, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and more. The Easy Transplant baskets make it simple to free up the roots for fast transplant into the garden, containers or “upside down” gardens.
3.) Standard Seed Kits – Any of our standard kits can be transplanted outdoors into containers or soil. Herb kits are easy to transplant into containers for a summer herb garden on the patio. And the tomatoes in our Cherry Tomato Kit are the perfect size for creating beautiful, compact cherry tomato bushes in containers close to your kitchen door.
In this eight week video series, AeroGrow Indoor Gardening expert John Thompson explains the basic tips and tricks to pruning and harvesting your herb garden, week-by-week. Learn how to correctly prune, and when it is time to harvest.
With proper pruning and harvesting you can increase the yield, health and appearance of your herb garden. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, so we’ve created step by step instructional video to help you out.
The main points outlined in the video are summarized here:
1.) Prune early and often, especially fast growing basil. In the video, we show the first pruning on a very young garden. The earlier you start pruning, the more you’ll harvest long term!
2.) Keep your lights as low as possible as long as possible. This means prune your fast growing tall plants to keep your lights within 4 inches of your shortest plant.
3.) Prune horizontal growth so that it does not block light to neighboring plants. See the diagram below.
4.) Always prune at a leaf joint. A leaf joint is the point of connection of a leaf with the stem from which a bud arises. See the diagram below.
5.) Never prune more than a 1/3 of the plant at one time.
6.) Pruning the newest growth of basil plants will create more leaf growth and less stem growth.
7.) To keep your thyme and mint plants bushy, remove the pieces that have long stems and few leaves.
8.) Rotate the pods and put the fullest side of the plants out and the thinner side in towards the center of the garden.
9.) Basil, mint and dill are fast growing plants and require more pruning than thyme, oregano, parsley and dill which are slower growing.
Detailed harvesting instructions for all of our seed kits can be found in the “Tending and Harvesting Guides” you will find here in the Knowledge Base. Watch the below video demonstrating how to prune and harvest herbs.
If you would like to harvest more herbs than you can use up while they are fresh, you can store them in the refrigerator. Some of the higher water-content herbs such as basil, parsley, savory, epazote, cilantro, chervil, sorrel and mint keep best if stored upright in the refrigerator with their leaves kept relatively dry, but with their stems in water. (To view or purchase a nifty refrigerator “Herb ’n Save” that works well for storing these herbs, click here.) Most of the lower water-content herbs such as sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme prefer to be stored in unsealed bags in the fridge, with a piece of paper towel inside the bag to absorb condensation and to moderate humidity.
All herbs can be dried successfully with the proper technique, but the easiest to dry are the lower water-content ones: sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme. If you want to dry the juicier herbs such as basil, cilantro and mint, extra care must be taken to make sure they do not develop mold before they dry completely.
To dry herbs, harvest whole stems (with leaves intact) and bundle 4-6 stems together at the base with a rubber band. Make sure the rubber band is tight enough to continue to hold the herb stems as they dry and shrink. Take a small brown paper bag, label it with the name and harvest date of the herb, and poke quite a few holes in the bag for air circulation. Open the bag fully to allow for maximum air flow. Place the herb bundle upside down in the bag, and gather the opening of the bag around the stem ends, tying them up together with a piece of string. Make sure the herbs are not too crowded in the bag, or mold can result.Hang the bag so that the herbs are upside down in a warm room with good air circulation. The bag will help absorb moisture and wick it away from the plants, as well as protect the herbs from light, which will help assure maximum retention of flavor.
Check the herbs inside the bag in about two weeks to see how they are drying. Check every week or so until they are completely, crispy dry before placing them in airtight containers for longer-term storage. Zip-close bags will work, but glass jars with tight-fitting lids are preferable, as they are more airtight than plastic bags. Again, make absolutely sure the herbs are bone dry before placing them in airtight containers. Remove the leaves from the stems when they are dry, and store the leaves whole until ready to use in the airtight container. The leaves will retain more essential oil and therefore more flavor if left in whole-leaf form until ready to use.
You can also dry herbs in the microwave. Place herb leaves (not stems) between paper towels and microwave on “High” for a minute and a half. Check for dryness – and they probably will not be dry yet – and then give them additional 30-second microwave blasts on “High”, checking them after each one until they feel completely dry. Careful – you do not want to burn them! then store the whole leaves in an airtight container until ready to use. They keep best away from light in the refrigerator.
Use about a teaspoon of crumbled dry leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh.
All herbs can be frozen for longer-term storage. There are two methods: whole-leaf freezing, and ice-cube freezing.For either method, harvest only fresh, whole, healthy leaves, wash them if necessary, and pat them dry with a clean towel. To freeze whole leaves, place the leaves on a cookie sheet (making sure they are not touching each other) and place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the herb leaves are frozen solid. You can now take the frozen leaves and put them in a labeled zipper bag in the freezer – now that they are frozen, they will not stick together in a solid mass.
To make herbal ice cubes, fill ice cube trays half-full with herb leaves, and then cover with water. Place the trays in the freezer until completely frozen, then pop out the cubes and store in labeled zipper bags in the freezer. When ready to use, just add a cube or two to your favorite soup or stew, but don’t expect to use them as a fresh garnish – they will turn black as they thaw.