Moving to a New Domain

The Zen Gardener blog is in the process of moving to a new home at http://zengardener.net. I am in the process of manually moving everything over to a new platform and deleting posts that have been moved. So if you arrived here and the post was not found, please visit the new Zen Gardener site.

Lavender Growing in the AeroGarden

In my experience with growing lavender, I have found that it is very slow growing. I planted lavender seeds in the AeroGarden over a month ago. The seeds too about a week to sprout and the lavender is small compared to the other plants that I have growing in the AeroGarden, but it is has grown better than the lavender that I planted in soil on the balcony about 7 months ago. The AeroGarden lavender is already about half the size of the lavender plants outside.

The lavender that I have growing is English lavender that I ordered from Trade Winds Fruit. It was originally planted in the front row in the center pod but I had to move it to the outside of the front row because the bergamot plant behind grew rapidly and blocked the light. It has been growing better since I moved it, so I expect it to catch up with the lavender plants that have been growing in soil soon.

Growing Chamomile in the AeroGarden

1 Month Chamomile Growth Pictured

Growing chamomile in the AeroGarden is easy. Just put 3 or 4 chamomile seeds in the seed pod and set the grow setting to flowers. If you are not using something other than the AeroGarden Liquid Nutrients, you should start off with a nutrient designed for the grow stage and then switch to flower stage nutrients as soon as your chamomile starts to flower.

As the plant starts to grow, you will need to add water more often. The AeroGarden will let you know when the water level gets low, but don't make a habit of running low. Nutrients should be added every two weeks and a complete water change should be done at least once a month for optimum growth.

Experimenting With the Aerogarden

This current experiment will be the third garden planted since I purchased the Aerogarden. The purpose is to see what I can and can't grow in the Aerogarden. The last crop were salad greens that I planted in rockwool. The Aerogarden came with the garden starter system and I just realized before planting this current garden that the kit came with grow sponges.

I cleaned and reused the pod baskets and started the herb seeds in new grow sponges. The herbs that I am experimenting with are echinacea, Roman chamomile, wild bergamot, valerian, ma huang, English lavender, and angelica. I would say that I planted everything about 2 or 3 weeks ago and so far 5 out of seven pods have sprouted. The ma huang and angelica haven't sprouted yet and I am not sure if they ever will, but I will still give them some time.

The pods don't have any covers on them so there is some light going through the pods and there is a little bit of algae growth. It is about the same amount as when the original Aerogarden herb seeds first started. After a while when the plants started to grow bigger and the water got changed out, I didn't have problems with algae. So I am hoping it will be the case this time around as well because I didn't make covers to replace the old ones.

Should I Reuse Potting Soil or Not

There are mixed feelings opinions from gardeners on whether or not you should reuse potting soil. I think that the answer depends on what is being planted and who is planting it. For example, I would expect that a nursery growing mass quantities of plants to sell to consumers would take all the steps necessary to prevent the spread of diseases and other contamination. After all, things can be spread rather quickly and there goes profit. However, what if you are just a home gardener growing some herbs in a pot? In that case, I think it will be okay. You just have to make sure that you treat the used soil before you reuse it and plant things where it is not so essential to use to new potting soil.

I just pulled out my carrots from the Smart Potthat they were growing in to plant some spinach. The carrots were struggling because of attack on aphids and cutworms. I just bought the soil mix about 3 months ago. The Smart Potis 15 gallons and is on a second floor balcony. Do I want to dump the whole thing, make a mess transferring from the pot to a trash bag and carry it across the parking lot to a dumpster and haul new bags of soil upstairs? No, I don't. So what do I do?

First thing is to make sure that there are no bugs crawling around in the soil. Some say to bake the soil. My thought is, that is a lot of soil to bake and I don't want my apartment to stink. So what I did was boil water in the biggest pot that I could find. I added a little orange essential oil to the water right before I dumped it into the potting mix as an added measure to get rid of the bugs. I let the soil mix sit over night to cool and let the essential oil dissipate a bit. Today, I checked the soil to see if there were any bugs and there weren't, so I went ahead and I planted the spinach seeds in the Smart Pot. The soil mix is a combination of potting soil and compost in case anyone is wondering.

I have never done this before so this method is trial and error for me. If the soil were really old, then I would have added some new stuff to it as well, but that is not the case this time around. We'll see how it goes.