Our Honest Review of the AeroGarden 2.0

The future of farming is here, and it’s the size of a shoebox.

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April 26, 2024

From the smallest string of hearts to a towering bird of paradise, we believe plants make everything better. Bringing nature into our homes is beneficial for our health and plants help us develop and enforce a disciplined routine.

My love of plants developed overnight when I nursed a tradescantia nanouk back to life from what appeared to be a mummified state. Now, I feel a strange sense of guilt when I wait too long to repot my rubber tree. Plants are our friends, and we want the best for them. But even in the most indirectly-sunny rooms, not everything can reach its full potential.

For some, admitting that is accepting defeat. If you want to show nature who’s boss, we recommend trying the AeroGarden Harvest 2.0. This indoor gardening system is designed to grow lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, flowers, microgreens, peppers and so much more from any room in your home, no matter what size it is.

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

What Is an AeroGarden?

For 20 years, AeroGarden has been producing indoor hydroponic gardening systems, turning any space into a micro-farm. Hydroponic technology allows for a plant to fully develop with just a shot glass worth of soil, a tank of water and a canopy of LEDs (and sometimes plant food).

AeroGarden’s mission is to give people the sense of serenity that comes from caring for plants, no matter the climate or size of their home. Their seeds and plant food are herbicide, pesticide and GMO-free: giving anyone the chance to grow and harvest organic produce in the comfort of their own home. By “anyone,” they really mean anyone. The toughest part of growing quality vegetables with the Harvest 2.0, is setting up the Harvest 2.0. Once the seeds are loaded and the light is running, it demands less attention than a carnival goldfish.

What Is Hydroponic Gardening?

Hydroponic gardening is exactly what it sounds like: growing plants in water. It sounds like an intimidating feat of science, where only the world’s top botanists can achieve success. Don’t let the name spook you; hydroponics are something anyone can do.

With the AeroGarden 2.0, grow sponges are partially suspended in a tank containing water and plant food. They come partially hollowed out, so seeds can be easily inserted in the base without any need for digging up and repacking the grow sponges. (I used tweezers to make sure they made it all the way to the bottom.) The water in the tank should be full at all times. In the first few weeks of the grow, this will usually involve a cup or so of water being added every other day. Once the buds start to resemble vegetables, you’ll notice a bunch of white strings scattered throughout the tank: They are roots. At this point, expect to be topping off the tank every day.

To make sure the plants are getting their nutrients, hydroponic systems include LED lights with a built-in timer to simulate a day’s worth of solar exposure. The AeroGarden Harvest 2.0 runs in 15 hour cycles. The LEDs can be pretty intense at times, so it’s best to have it living somewhere with enough light that the LEDs won’t make a difference, or so little activity that they won’t even be seen.

How I Tested the AeroGarden Harvest 2.0

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

The AeroGarden Harvest 2.0 is designed for beginners, so to test it I threw my knowledge of plants out the window. I used the provided seeds, growing a batch of black seeded simpson lettuce. There were a few moments where I actually found my instincts challenged: primarily regarding the plant food and grow lights.

I initially didn’t plan to use the plant food. I prefer to seek out organic produce and never take shortcuts — two tenets I felt I was violating. I was inclined to keep the grow lights a healthy distance from the crops, however the instructions called for them to be close but not touching. Despite these notions, I followed everything to a T.

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

The grower came with stickers to label various plants, if someone wanted to grow different crops at the same time. Out of curiosity, I put the sticker markers over half of the plants to see if there was any difference in how they grew. There was none.

Only one of the six pods I planted didn’t take, and I was not able to figure out why that happened.

When deciding the value of the product, I looked at its two main goals: grow produce and do it inside. I approached the test from two perspectives: that of someone growing the vegetables, and someone else who has to share a home with it. The first person loved the AeroGarden. The second one learned to live with it. I planned to have the AeroGarden live in my room. Once I turned on the grow light, I realized that wasn’t an option.

What I Liked About the AeroGarden

Once the AeroGarden Harvest 2.0 is set up, you immediately feel like a futuristic farmer. It only took about 72 hours for buds to appear, and after a few weeks you get the satisfaction of waking up every day to thriving crops.

The design of the product itself is clean, simple and can pair well with an array of aesthetics.

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

Aside from some dirt spilling when loading the seeds, the entire process is mess-free. Once everything is set up, the only thing you have to worry about is spilling a tiny bit of water as you refill the tank (which is very easy to access).

Everything about the system is easy to use. It takes care of the two variables with the most room for error: watering and sunlight. With those out of the way, the AeroGarden has you farming on autopilot.

Once the device was comfortably situated, there were only three things I had to do: keep the tank full, put a few drops of food in two weeks after planting, and harvest.

What the AeroGarden Could Do Better

The AeroGarden Harvest 2.0 makes a rough first impression with its vague assembly directions. The product lacks a concise order of operations, instead dispersing the various steps throughout the provided booklet.

The system for refilling plant food isn’t particularly intuitive. After two weeks, a light will flash red on top of the device to alert the grower. However, once the plant food has been added to the tank, you must click the button next to the flashing red light. This is the same button that resets the 15-hour light, so if you’re like me and you scheduled the light to run from 8 AM to 11 PM, make sure you refill the food at 8 AM.

Regarding the plant food, the bottle it comes in is poorly made and consistently leaks after being closed. It’s also made with Miracle-Gro, which contains synthetic fertilizers.

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

The real issue is the LEDs. For anyone remotely sensitive to harsh light, the AeroGarden is a literal eyesore. I was able to time it so I had minimal interaction with it in its solar-emulation state, but there was only one spot in my home where it was able to live, and as you can see from the pictures, it’s not where one would think to have their home farm.

Photo by: Ian Claro

Ian Claro

Is the AeroGarden Worth It?

Despite my qualms with the AeroGarden Harvest 2.0, the grower gets the job done and is a practical means of bringing vegetation into your living space for more than just aesthetic purposes. While the harsh light emitted by the LEDs limits the options for where the AeroGarden can live, the unit demands very little in terms of real estate and day-to-day attention. As long as you’re able to easily fill up the tank, the AeroGarden Harvest 2.0 can be shoved in the corner of a closet and still churn out quality produce in just a few weeks.

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