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AeroGarden 6 Elite
Manufacturer: AeroGrow
List price: $229.95 (deep discounts available online)
Warranty: 1 year
Dimensions: 18" x 10-1/2" x 16-1/2" (collapsed; 35" tall when fully extended)
Weight: 8 lb 9 oz
Composition: Plastic, stainless steel, glass
Other versions: AeroGarden VeggiePro for Full-Sized Vegetables; AeroGarden Deluxe; AeroGarden Deluxe Trellis System; Aerogrow seed kits
Made In: China
Type: Indoor, year-round garden
Color: Black, silver
Apparent goal: kids gift/registry home kitchens restaurants everywhere
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Diet/nutrition: does not apply scary empty promises helpful essential
Green?: not especially neutral mixed blessing earth friendly green!
Innovative: step back standing still progress trendy genius
Problem solving: no better baby steps solid steps giant steps a revelation
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Ease of use: impossible frustrating OK simple child's play
Intuitive: Ph.D. required barely logical effortless brilliant
Instructions: missing incomprehensible adequate unnecessary excellent
Quality: cheesy questionable good years of service impressive
Parts to lose: inevitable some/many one-piece self-storing not a problem
Power source: none hands batteries outlet green
Clean-up: nightmare wipe clean soap & water scouring pad dishwasher
Does it work?: not at all adequately well very well perfectly
Availability: airfare required online kitchen store department store supermarket
Easy to open?: impossible maddening tolerable good opens itself
Green?: fills a landfill huge waste passable minimal waste impressive
Time saving: time wasting not really modest substantial huge
Labor saving: less efficient marginal a bit noticeable remarkable
Money saving: money wasted none $ $$ $$$
Beats the old way: worse no change better infinitely entirely new
Where will it live?: garage/attic drawer cabinet countertop elsewhere
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfies exceeds home run
How often used: once/twice ≥daily ≥weekly ≥monthly year-round
Worth the space?: no does not apply w/unlimited space w/limited space absolutely
Need it?: a luxury discretionary basic equipment for serious cooks get it
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it fair good very good excellent

Comments: There is nothing like harvesting your own tomatoes in the depths of winter – and we know a thing or two about the depths of winter.

Grow tomatoes, herbs, salad greens, or even flowers on your kitchen counter, without dirt and without mess. Drop in the pre-seeded grow pods, add water, and the included nutrients, and then – as Mother Nature requires – wait. The AeroGarden tells you when to add water and nutrients, turns the grow lights on and off automatically, and produces real food more than twice as fast as plants grown in soil.

The AeroGarden uses NASA-tested aeroponic technology to grow plants in water, nutrients, and air. This dirt-free method suspends the plant roots in air within a highly oxygenated growing chamber with 100% humidity. The computerized system uses high-efficiency lighting and a quiet, low-maintenance chamber that provides more oxygen to the roots.

Each AeroGarden model comes with a starter seed kit, but you can order tomatoes, herbs, peppers, green beans, lettuces, and flowers individually or in a huge variety of mixes. The Gourmet Herb Seed Kit, for example, includes Italian basil, purple basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, and thyme. These seed kits are not without cost, but neither is the too-often flavorless produce filling the shelves of your grocery store – and you will know exactly where a little (at least) of you food came from.

The one issue we had is that our tomatoes would not ripen, and we were getting very disappointed. After a few calls to the company, the answer became clear. As frugal Mainers, our programmable thermostats kept turning down the heat at night, and tomatoes need ample warmth as well as light to mature. So we either had to keep the heat up overnight in our test kitchen or move the AeroGarden to a smaller room that we could keep warmer.

It's certainly not like getting a puppy, but you can't just plug it in and forget about it, either. The AeroGarden takes a little tending, but, again, growing tomatoes with real flavor while the snow covers the ground is totally worth it.


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