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Test Drive: Gardening in the Kitchen

Fine Cooking Issue 82
Photo: Scott Phillips
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When summer comes to an end, snipping fresh herbs from the garden becomes a distant memory for many of us. And for me, the thought of growing my own herbs in little pots on my windowsill is more a pipe dream than anything else—many a time I’ve tried and many a time I’ve failed. So, when I saw an Aerogarden filled with thriving fragrant basil at a housewares store near my home, I was more than a little intrigued.

I went home and read about the contraption at the company’s Web site, and I have to say, the garden sounded pretty amazing: It lets you grow herbs, lettuce, vegetables, or flowers on your countertop. The plants grow aeroponically, meaning the roots are suspended in air and water, so there’s no dirt. A harvest can be ready in as little as 28 days. And, best of all, supposedly no green thumb is required—Aerogrow guarantees 100% success. How could I resist?

I brought home an Aerogarden with a basil seed kit and set it up (easy). Talk about instant gratification: By the next evening, the seeds had sprouted. After that, growth was remarkably swift. The built-in grow lights cycled on and off automatically, and a reminder system told me to add water or nutrients to the reservoir. In about a month, I had basil galore, and the harvest continued for a couple months more.

No question about it, the Aerogarden lived up to the hype. Impressed as I am with it, I do have one reservation: The Aerogarden isn’t cheap, so unless you’re ready to commit to using it for the long term, you might want to think twice before making the investment. I say that because, even though I very much enjoyed growing my own basil, as the weeks passed, I found myself starting to resent the Aerogarden’s presence on my countertop, but that’s because I have precious little counter space in my Manhattan kitchen. If I were lucky enough to have more space, I’d welcome an Aerogarden into my kitchen for good.

The Aerogarden sells for $149.95 at Aerogrow.com.


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