Ask AeroGarden: Watering Your Plants

Question:  “Some of my seed pods are experiencing poor growth or not even germinating, but my basil is growing perfectly. What is the problem?”

Answer:  “This is most likely a problem with the type of water you are using. We recommend that you use distilled water. Distilled water has no mineral content and is perfect for hydroponic applications. Our liquid plant nutrients have the exact measurement of minerals for optimum plant growth. When distilled water meets with our nutrients it results in pH balance. Some plant varieties are more tolerant than others to pH imbalance. Basil, for instance, is known to thrive in imbalanced conditions, but many other plant varieties will struggle with poor growth and even lack of germination. In addition, most filtered water, hard or softened water, bottled drinking water, well sourced water, and some municipal tap water, depending on the state in which you reside, will also cause imbalance.Go ahead and refill your garden with distilled water and nutrients. This will restore pH balance!

Get to the root of it! Feel free to ask your question at ask@aerogarden.com and get an expert answer from the AeroGarden team.

Ask AeroGarden: Having Cilantro Trouble?

Question:  “I have had issues trying to grow cilantro.  I just can’t get it to grow…help?”

Answer:  “Cilantro can sometimes be challenging. We’ve seen it take 5 to 8 weeks to germinate but we don’t want you to wait that long.  Sometimes the hulls surrounding the seeds are very hard like Navy Beans and need to be soaked overnight.  Another tip is pouring water right down the center of the hole and placing a quarter over the label and checking underneath it once a week for successful germination.  Once it has sprouted, please remove the quarter.”

 

Get to the root of it! Feel free to ask your question at ask@aerogarden.com and get an expert answer from the AeroGarden team.

Tips for Salad Gardens

In the spirit of August’s Seed Pod Kit of the Month, Heirloom Salad Greens, here are some salad tips-

Temperature- Salads prefer cool temperatures below 72 degrees. Take care to keep your garden away from sunny windows that might increase the temperature. If you are struggling with keeping your salad garden cool, try the following tips:

  • Add ice cubes to the water bowl regularly.
  • Place your garden in a cooler area in your home, such as a basement.
  • Avoid placing your garden near other gardens or appliances that might give off heat.

Harvesting- There are two ways to harvest your salad greens.

  1. Remove whole leaves by cutting the base of the leaf with scissors or shears, or by gently pinching off with you fingers. Spread your harvest evenly across your garden.
  2. Prune the top 1/3 of the leaves, as if you are giving it a hair cut!
  3. Avoid harvesting right after adding liquid nutrients to your garden, it will have a mineral taste as the lettuce quickly absorbs the nutrients.

Garden Check Up: Roots

The condition of the roots reflect the health of the plant. Healthy roots are light colored and firm. Unhealthy roots turn brown and mushy and can have a bad odor.

To prevent root rot try the following steps to promote garden health:

Rinse and Refill the water bowl. This is good to do at-least once a month to replace old water filled with excess minerals left over from the liquid nutrients that the plants did not absorb. After refilling- add the recommended amount of liquid nutrients for your AeroGarden. Optional– add a teaspoon of food grade hydrogen peroxide to the water.


Mature plants will have an advanced root system that may overwhelm the water bowl of your garden. If the roots are healthy, then you will need to water more frequently due to the limited space in the water bowl and those thirsty roots.

 

To root trim or not? Some people do trim the roots of their mature plants BUT there is a high risk of over trimming and killing the plant. Because of this risk, it is not recommended.

So take a look under the grow deck and do a Garden Check Up on your roots.

Plant Fact: Marigold Flowers

These bright yellow-orange flowers, Marigolds, are not only good for keeping the bugs out of the garden, but have many other uses. This edible flower can benefit your health in several ways.

Part of the Marigold family, Calendulas provide more medicinal benefits.

Benefits:

  • Natural anti-inflammatory
  • Reduces eye inflammation and conjunctivitis
  • A natural antioxidant and antiseptic (helps fight infection)
  • Soothes and helps heal burns, cuts, and rashes
  • Relieves irritated skin that may be red, swelling, dry, itchy, and sensitive
  • Natural bug repellant

The petals of these flowers can be dried and used to make teas, ointments, and drops.

Grow your own beneficial calendula flowers and make some homemade Calendula Lotion!

Calendulas/ Marigolds come in the following seed pod kits:  Incredible Edibles, and any custom herb.

 

 

PLUS, these flowers are edible! So use these fresh vibrant petals to add color to your food such as sauces, cakes, custards, cheese, salads, and even butter.

Garden Checkup: Treating “Blossom-End Rot”

Blossom-end rot can occur in tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, squash, and melons. Often times, the damage appears when the fruit is half-way grown. These soggy areas expand and turn dark brown and harden. The effected areas will begin to rot and the fruit should be cut-off and discarded.

Blossom End Rot is not a pest, parasite, or disease process but is a physiological problem caused by a low level of calcium in the fruit itself. There is no cure for blossom end rot, only prevention. This can occur when tomatoes are nutrient deprived or under erratic watering. Typically adding more nutrients will resolve the problem and tomato plants will recover.

How much nutrient are you giving your tomatoes? 

The nutrient level should be increased when growing tomatoes upon the third feeding and moving forward.  

Nutrient level for 6/7/9 pod gardens is 8 ml (2 capfuls) upon the first two feedings, and 11 – 12 ml (2 ½ to 3 capfuls) upon the third feeding and moving forward.

Nutrient level for a 3 pod garden is 4 ml (1 capful) for the first two feedings, and 6 ml (1 ½ capfuls) of nutrient upon the third feeding and moving forward.

Make sure that you are checking your water level every other day. Once the tomatoes are established, they will consume quite a bit of water daily, especially if you are running your furnace more often. Do not wait for your AeroGarden to alert you that your water level is low to add water. Your AeroGarden will alert you when the water level is very low. It is ideal to keep the water level in your garden to the “fill line”, and to be consistent in your watering habits.

Here is the solution. Start with a “rinse and refill”. Empty the contents of your water bowl, rinse it, and replace the water adding the appropriate level of nutrient (12 ml). This will restore the pH level in your AeroGarden. Add 1 Tablespoon of Epsom Salt to the water. Remove and discard the browning tomatoes.

In addition, make sure you are pruning your tomatoes. Go ahead and prune back the leaves that are shading out your tomatoes. This will encourage your plant to continue to produce tomatoes. Also, your green tomatoes will be exposed to more light, encouraging them to ripen.

TIP OF THE WEEK

WATER

1. Adding Water

  • Add water to “Fill To Here” indicator located under the Water Port flap.
  • Use room temperature tap water or bottled distilled water. Do not use well water which may interfere with our nutrients, or softened water, as it contains levels of sodium usually harmful to plants.
  • The ‘Add Water’ reminder alert will appear on the control panel when the water level is low. For best results, keep the water level topped up to the fill line at all times.

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PARMESAN PEPPER CURLY KALE CHIPS

It’s almost time for everyone’s favorite cool weather crop, kale!  Try these crispy and healthy parmesan kale chips right from your oven.

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INGREDIENTS

3 pounds curly kale (see Cooks’ notes)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

Fine sea salt, divided

Special equipment: 2 very large bowls; 2 large (half-sheet 18- by 13-inch) rimmed sheet pans; parchment paper or nonstick foil

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 275°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Line rimmed sheet pans with parchment or nonstick foil.

Cut out and discard stems and center ribs from kale. Aim for 32 cups of leaves (use a 1- or 2-quart glass measure and pack leaves without crushing them). Wash leaves and dry well.

Transfer half of kale to a large bowl. Toss with half of oil, rubbing leaves to make sure they are well coated, then toss with half of parmesan, pepper, and salt. Once the first half is in the oven, repeat with the other half of the kale.

Working in batches, spread leaves in a single layer on lined sheet pans and bake, switching positions of sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 25 minutes. Transfer crisps with a metal spatula to baking sheets or platters to cool. Reuse parchment or foil for successive batches.

Cooks’ notes:
•Bunches of kale can vary tremendously in the amount of stems they include, skewing the weight and therefore the yield. Some varieties of curly kale, particularly organic ones, include very little stem, so you may only need to buy 2 pounds to reach 32 cups.
•Kale crisps can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature. Re-crisp in 275°F oven, if necessary.
•If you’re using Tuscan kale, you can follow the exact same procedure using 2 pounds of Tuscan kale (aka lacinato or dinosaur kale) with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.