December 1, 2021. It was a long, dark winter. I was getting kind of desperate for new signs of life on the planet, for reminders of simple goodness. I needed something that seemed like a magic trick, so I pulled my AeroGarden out of storage. And grew a salad in my kitchen – in 16 days. In December. In New York.
This was one of my personal Pandemic Greatest Gifts. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re grateful to have found your way through a really bad year and a half. This little windowsill garden may help make next year a little better. For you or someone you love.
Seeing is believing
OK, it’s a baby lettuce salad. I could have taken it Slower, waited another week for a bigger lettuce salad.
Full disclosure: The folks at AeroGarden sent me a sample to try a few years ago. So I could tell you about it if I liked it. They said I’d have lettuce to harvest in three weeks. Or a full-on herb garden in five. I wasn’t merely skeptical. I was flat-out disbelieving. And I just had another unbelievable salad five days ahead of schedule. After that, two months of fresh herbs.
Grown in this LED-lit hydroponic garden. No soil – just a water reservoir and liquid nutrients. LED lighting that delivers a balanced white light that plants think is sunlight. Fifteen hours a day of it. With minimal use of electricity because the LED light array is amazingly efficient. Average monthly electrical cost (at 11 cents per KW-hour) for the biggest AeroGarden: $3.51. The carbon footprint of this energy use is significantly less than the typical carbon cost of shipping produce from field to supermarket. Here in the U.S. northeast, we’re well into those 6 months of too-cold-to-grow-local. Everything comes from somewhere else. My CSA farm share doesn’t kick in until next June. By New Year’s Day, I’d be dreaming about the the wonders of lettuce. This year I’m be picking my own.
Better Cheaper Gardening
If things continue to grow well, we’ll be eating fresher-than-fresh salad greens a few times a week for a couple of months. Then we’ll practice crop rotation and go for a highly productive and greatly appreciated indoor herb garden for a few months – until it’s time to transplant it in the outdoor garden. I think I’ll get my tomatoes started this Way, too. Seeds are Way cheaper than seedlings.
The profound amazement
The ultimate benefit may be the plants’ ability to get your attention. You’ll be watering them, you’ll be looking at them and smelling them. Hell, this year you may be talking to them. Finally, you’ll be amazed at how much pleasure you’ll get from taking care of them and eating them – and talking about them with anyone who’ll listen. This could be transformational. The thing that makes you a gardener. That slows you down and lets you appreciate something that’s both very simple and unimaginably complicated. Something amazing. I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda desperate for some simple amazement.