Heaven knows, by mid-February, the days may be longer here in the northern hemisphere but precious little edible is growing. In my hometown of St. Louis, the first farmers markets will open in mid April but at least one will delay its opening until late May. That's just two weeks after our last-risk-of-freeze date but the market master knows that until then, there's really just not enough farm produce and that even the best grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, whole-grain breads and hand-crafted chocolates won't satisfy home cooks hungry for fresh vegetables and seasonally-challenged shoppers expecting home-grown tomatoes that won't in fact appear for still another eight weeks.
So what about keeping year-round summer with a mini greenhouse, the current staple of late-night television advertorials, the Aerogarden? Let's see what bloggers say about the AeroGarden, the hydroponic countertop garden which sells for $150 and hits all the huckster hot buttons -- "no dirt, no pesticides, no weeding -- and no green thumb required"!
The World According to Carp ~ "Firstly, it was ridiculously easy to set up. It really is just put the seed pods in, put the bulbs in, add water." (read more)
Green Deals Daily ~ " ... I was able to harvest pesticide-free lettuce after about a month. Growing food at home saves on food miles and provides a constant flow of the freshest produce possible. There are a few drawbacks to this innovative machine though ..." (See the video review)
Cake on the Brain ~ "I love that there's no dirt and no bugs. No sprays. No work. Everything is on a timer and you just add water and fertilizer tablets when it tells you to. Idiot proof. Since I have a brown thumb, it's perfect." (read more)
Chow ~ Chow contributors tallied up more than 50 comments to review the Aero Garden. Tips include: Apartment dwellers are particular fans. Coupons for 20% off are being honored by Bed, Bath & Beyond and Linens & Things. The $199 'Master Garderers Kit' is better for those who want to use their own seeds. Cilantro is less than successful, basil grows like a weed. The lights are bright so don't put the unit in a bedroom. The manufacturer replaces unsuccessful seed pods. (Read more)
Red-iculus ~ "... this has been a fun project and at $150, this has been an excellent entry-level hydroponics experiment." (Read more: October 23, 2007 setup, November 5th progress report, November 25 progress report,
January 16 harvest and January 28 tomato report)
But wait. There's more.
Andrea's Kitchen ~ On her review site Andrea's Reviews, the DC mom writes, "Over the years I’ve grown many different kinds of herbs indoors with varying degrees of success, and I’m always looking for ways to improve herb yield and quality. ... I contacted the company to see if they would consider allowing me to take one for a test drive and write an honest review, and they graciously agreed. They packed up a Classic AeroGarden and sent it to me."
Andrea concludes that the cost-of-ownership for the $150 AeroGarden is considerably higher -- including electricity and replacement seed kits, she estimates Year One at $243 and Year Two at $132. (See Andrea's financial analysis of the AeroGarden)
So what do you think, would you pay $150 (and more!) for year-round fresh herbs from your own kitchen or basement? What do you think about the 'carbon footprint issues' related to a Made-in-China product and $20 seed packets? What do you think about the very expectation of year-round fresh herbs? Do you buy fresh herbs in plastic packets from the supermarket?
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