In case you didn’t hear it, that no-good, good for nothing Punxsutawney Phil has called for six more weeks of winter! That’s dour news to those of us wishing for Spring’s blossoms to bloom, though as least March is here. But it’s even tougher news for those fighting the urge to plant their vegetable and herb gardens.
Gardening is a fickle subject with some apartment tenants. Sometimes would-be gardeners are forced to keep their green thumbs close to the vest, because in most apartment complexes there is neither space nor permission granted to plant a personal vegetable garden. While some apartment complexes may allow for a small community garden, it’s about as rare as a purple tomato.
This lack of horticultural freedom results in many tenants to give the porch-side, or balcony-raised gardens a try. What’s a closet gardener to do? Luckily for them, indoor herb gardening has taken off…like a weed.
What is Indoor Herb Gardening?
How can herbs grow indoors, you ask? Don’t they require optimum sunlight and rich minerals found only in dirt and soil? Indeed they do, but as man so famously does, he created an artificial source.
Today, there is an entire industry dedicated to indoor gardening. It’s called hydroponics. This system uses full-spectrum lighting and nutrient-rich water to grow your vegetables and herbs. Since all of the nutrients the plants require are added to the water, there is no need for actual dirt. Best of all, many of these hydroponics kits can fit right on your own kitchen’s counter top.
One of the largest manufacturers and most popular counter top systems is the AeroGarden. It’s an all-in-one piece of equipment that uses a unique Bio-Dome seed system. You purchase special “pods” that you simply plug into the AeroGarden and watch grow. For instance, if you want fresh rosemary, simply plug a rosemary pod into the AeroGarden’s optimizing chamber. In no time flat–voila, rosemary. The AeroGarden uses a growing method called aeroponics, where the plant’s roots hang loose in humid, rainforest-type air.
With the AeroGarden, everything is simplified, so even someone who can’t grow their own hair can grow an indoor garden. In fact, the results are guaranteed. Now, you can have a steady source of herbs or vegetables, right on your counter top, to use whenever you need them.
Other Sources for Indoor Herb Gardeners
The AeroGarden is but one type of indoor gardening system. Many people choose to build their own hydroponics kits from scratch. There are numerous websites available where you can purchase everything you need to get started, from books on hydroponics to nutrient supplements and irrigation pumps. Check out Indoor Garden for everything you need to get started.
Now, before you run out and start your own indoor herb garden, be aware that the hobby can be not only addictive, but quite expensive. Indoor gardening supplies and systems do not come cheap, but the benefit is you will save hundreds a year in produce or herbs, so it will pay for itself over time.
The Pros and Cons of Indoor Vegetable and Herb Gardening
- Fun, addictive hobby
- Excellent source of organic vegetables or herbs
- Vegetable and herbs grow up to three-times faster than potted plants
- Green plants help to keep the air inside your apartment cleaner
- You control the growth of the plants
- Initial startup cost is high (~$150 for the AeroGarden plus ~$40 for the herbs*)
- You must monitor the nutrient level of the water often
- Your electricity bill may increase due to the use of the full-spectrum lighting
In the end, products like the AeroGarden allow apartment dwellers the opportunity to flex their green thumb and enjoy a bountiful harvest of vegetables and fresh herbs all year long. In fact, that’s the beauty of hydroponics–you aren’t subject to missing out on fresh veggies or herbs, regardless of what that temperamental groundhog says.
* These were the posted prices in February 2008 according to the AeroGarden website.