Adventures in Hydroponics: Cleaning out an AeroGarden

Hello, 2021! New Year, new garden! But first, let’s do a little New Years cleaning. One of my best gardening decisions of 2020 was setting up a grow light system. I had been interested in grow lights for a while, so you can imagine how happy I was when I received an AeroGarden Harvest for Christmas in 2019. My AeroGarden was the first gardening project of mine last year & it thrived for almost seven months. So, I figured it was fitting if I cleaned it up & started off 2021 with some brand new seeds. Keep reading to find out what I did.

aerogarden plants past their prime
It’s time to move on when plants have bolted & gone crispy.

First things first, I had to remove what was left of the herbs that I grew. Some of the plants were limping along & were way past their prime, but it was still hard for me to pull them. I just never like removing plants that are still alive, but it had to be done. I enjoyed the herbs for a long time, but they were getting scraggly & crispy. I had to cut the plants off at the base of the pods since they became so rooted in that pulling them out would have been an exercise of futility. Some of the plants had created substantial woody base stems (hello basil) too. It’s amazing how well they grew in there.

aerogarden plants & roots
What goes on above & below.

After the stems & leaves were disposed of, I had to tackle the roots. At this point, they were completely overrun in the water reservoir. Boy howdy, those were some roots though! The water reservoir was pretty much full of roots upon roots upon roots with a little water sprinkled in there. They had completely molded to the shape of the reservoir, so removing the roots from there wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I ended up having to cut out the pods from the roots or else I would never have been able to free the tray from its roots captor. You bet I took a lot of pictures! I’ve never seen roots grow like this. Hydroponics is no joke, my plants absolutely thrived in the water!

roots of herbs from an aerogarden
That’s one huge jumble of roots.

Once I was finally able to remove all of the plants & their roots, I was left with quite the mess. I made sure to keep on the scheduled monthly cleaning of the water reservoir, but I could only do so much. You have to act fast when cleaning out the system if you don’t want to interrupt the light cycle (check out how I quickly cleaned it out here) Therefore, I was never able to do a really deep clean of the inside of the unit. I was thankful that I finally had the chance to give it a deep clean. It got kinda gross in there & roots were trying to grow in every crevice that ever existed. I gave it the good cleaning that it deserved & pulled out all of those adventurous roots.

cleaning an aerogarden picture
Whew, the mess that as left after the removal battle was something else.

Next up was cleaning the outside of the system. Just like with the inside, I kept up on the cleaning, but I could only clean so much once the plants started to jungle out. I was really able to get in there & clean out all of the grime that found its way into all the cracks & crevices. It’s really amazing how much grime can build up over a few months. I ended up using a cleaning brush & soap to scrub off all that gunk. By the time it was done it was finally spick & span & ready to go.

cleaned aerogarden
& clean!

My AeroGarden 2021 plan is to grow tomatoes in there. Mostly because I don’t fully believe that you can grow tomatoes in such a small space. I started a few tomato seeds in there last year that ended up winning my tomato wars, which consisted of growing tomatoes from seed in multiple ways. I’m just so used to tomato plants vining out like crazy, so the thought of a tiny tomato plant growing on essentially a countertop just seems so impossible to me. Which is why I want to try it. I took the safe route & ordered AeroGarden tomato seeds from Amazon since the plants are supposed to stay small enough to fit in the system. I know that some people grow their own seeds in the grow systems, but when it’s something like tomatoes, I want to grow something that at least should be able to grow in there. 

aerogarden tomato seeds
Let’s go, tomatoes!

So you know what that means, I’ll be taking you on the journey with me. Get ready for hydroponic tomato tutorials, people! While I have my doubts, I really really hope that it will be successful. Being a gardener in an area with cold & sometimes long winters can get pretty boring during this time of year. It would be awesome if I could grow tomatoes indoors! Even better if I could also grow tomatoes hydroponically all the way. *fingers crossed* Stay tuned & happy gardening, everyone!

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