A growing gift

Susan Manzke
Susan's unpacked AeroGarden that arrived on her front porch courtesy of her son, Russell.

“Expect a delivery tomorrow,” son Russell told me, but he didn’t say what was coming my way. So I imagined. Could it be a sweet treat to eat? I dismissed that idea. Russ and his family are big into healthy eating. In the past, my engineer son had given me a gadget, the Comfort Zone Electric Oil Filled Radiator to take the chill away from my kitchen on those terribly cold winter days.

I kept wondering until, half-past eight the next evening, my package arrived. It was a gadget, after all, an AeroGarden In-Home Garden System.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about livening up my life this winter by having plants in my house. Of course, none of my flowers are edible, so Russ thought I could use a system that would bring greens suitable for a salad to me.

My new contraption didn’t need much assembly. The hardest part was getting it out of the box. It was packaged well. When everything was on the counter I checked to see that all the items were included. Inside I found the garden with LED grow lights, a power cord, tiny grow domes, seed pods, and a bottle of plant food, everything I needed to get started except water.

Susan adding water to her garden before lowering the LED light to the beginning height.

But where could I put my new toy? Anything interesting and new attracts my cat, Car-E. Because of him, my flowering orchards are set on a shelf in the dining room.

I looked around the kitchen. The safest place was the small countertop next to the refrigerator, where I usually keep my toaster. Car-E never goes there, at least not so far.

The toaster was decrumbed and set in a cabinet. The AeroGarden system fits in that space with plenty of room.

All I had to do was to plug in my garden, add water, fertilizer, and put the seed pods in the six holes on top. The seeds that were in those pods were Genovese Basil, Thai Basil, Dill, Curley Parsley, Thyme, and Mint.

The glow from my kitchen garden is refreshing. The LED light brightens the corner. Just looking at it makes me feel good, even if nothing is growing in my garden yet.

But I’m not finished. Since the AeroGarden light goes beyond its border I figure I can use that light for more plants, too.

In a drawer, I saved seeds from heirloom tomatoes last year. If I did my seed saving properly, I should be able to start some now and take advantage of those LED grow lights.

Spring has begun, well at least it has in my kitchen.

Russell’s AeroGarden after four weeks of growth.

Russ emailed me a photo of his garden. His photo shows what mine should look like in four weeks. I have my fingers crossed for green growth like his.

I’ve never had great success when I’ve started tomatoes before. Either they get extremely leggy (all stem) or the next time I look at them they are dead.

I’m all gung-ho this year for my little garden and my starter plants, which will now include peppers, too, since I found more different seeds in my saved stash—some are a couple of years old—I’m trying not to have expectations that are too wild. I know my limits and my success rate.

I’m writing about my new AeroGarden before it has had a chance to grow anything. I’m not selling or suggesting you purchase it. At this point, it is in an experimental stage for me, but like getting a new toy, I’m having fun.

If all works well, eventually, I’ll be clipping herbs in my kitchen, which would be especially fresh and very local.

Wish me and my plants luck.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;