Before we go into how the new age aerogardens work, what are aerogardens? They are a new type of gardening relating similarly to hydroponics. Just that, instead of leaving the roots in a body of nutrient water, they are allowed to be exposed to the air and get their nutrients from misting. The plants are usually held in place by foam that allows the roots access to the nutrient-laden mist while allowing the top to gain the required sunlight.
The set-up sounds simple enough and true enough, for DIY models that are on a smaller scale, they can be cheaper than $100. However, if you are intending to invest in larger-scale aerogardening, professional equipment can easily rise up into the four-digit range. However, one thing remains the same across the type of equipment and that is they all require a space where humidity can be kept in and also provide shade for the roots so that it is not exposed to the sunlight.
The difference between professional equipment and DIY equipment typically lies in the pressure systems. Low-pressure systems are often used for DIY construction due to it being easily accessible and more affordable. Some examples of these are simple fountain pumps, however, they are not the ideal mist producers as they mainly produce tiny streams of water which are something like sprinklers. Hence, these are cheaper but they may not be the most ideal for aerogardening if you are looking to dabble into a more professional realm.
Unlike the low-pressure system mentioned above, high-pressure systems produce true mist. This means that the water particles are small and light enough to be retained in the air and as a result, have a higher capability to deliver the required nutrients to the plants evenly. To do this, there need to be pressurized water tanks, holding 60 to 90 psi, attached to the misters. This of course, translates to higher costs. So, if you are not intending to invest too much into aerogardening and are just trying it out, this might be excessive.
What type of vegetation grows well in an aerogarden?
One of the unique selling points of aeroponics is its diversity in being able to accommodate a range of crops from leafy greens, culinary herbs, fruits, and even root crops which do not fare well in other systems like the hydroponic system. Of course, while there is no restriction on the type of crops that you can harvest in an aerogarden, each and every type of plant has its own requirements. So, our recommendation is that you conduct thorough research on the needs of the plants that you wish to grow. This is so that you can make the necessary adjustments to the specifics to cater to the needs of these plants. For example, some plants like leafy greens require higher nitrogen compounds in the mist solution in order to develop better.
What are some of the benefits of aerogardening?
When you know about how aerogardens work, honestly it’s not any much simpler than the traditional forms of gardening. So, there must be good reasons as to why people would recommend aerogardening and they are:
- The exposure of roots to the air promotes faster growth. With higher exposure to the air, there is a higher intake of oxygen on the part of the plant and this results in faster and better growth.
- The use of mist also means that there is no excessive use of water. Compared to traditional irrigation or hydroponics, aerogardens can help you save up to as much as 95% water while providing similar and even better nutrients to the plant.
- You can place the plant anywhere and this means the space used becomes more efficient. Now, you can plant more plants in a single allotted area as compared to before because they can be placed either horizontally or vertically since the mist would be able to reach them either way.
- It is more environmentally friendly. This reduces the need of using vehicles that run on petrol to harvest the food which spells badly for the air. Furthermore, this also allows the reduction of using toxic chemicals to kill pests and diseases as the area will be closed off and the use of only air and sunlight with mist will reduce the chances of such pests and diseases from occurring.
What are some of the downsides of aerogardening?
- While the plants are low maintenance, the equipment is otherwise. The specifics like ensuring appropriate nutrient levels in the solution is vital to the growth and survival of the plants. One wrong addition of nutrients could cause a plant to be either malnourished or overexposed. Hence, aerogardening also requires a high level of knowledge with regard to the type and amount of nutrients pertaining to each plant.
- Another equipment concern is misters. The misters must operate at a fixed interval and must continue doing so round the clock. This is because unlike hydroponics or traditional soil farming, the plants do not have a medium that retains the moisture and nutrients for them for later use. So, these misters must run at fixed timings. Otherwise, the roots may dry out, causing the plant to die out. The misters must go through some form of maintenance as the mineral deposits from the nutrients can coagulate and clog the misters.
- It is environmentally friendly to a certain extent. While there are great improvements with aerogardening with concerns regarding water pollution, air pollution, and more, there is a cost in terms of electricity intake. The fact that the misters have to be operating round the clock denotes that there will be a large consumption of electricity. This problem can be solved with the use of solar-powered electricity but that of course again translates to higher costs.
In conclusion, while aerogardening is not free from its flaws, it could spell the future of gardening. This is because the pros that come with it often outweigh the cons, especially when it comes to saving space and resources. Aeroponics may one day be more common than in-soil gardening – all we need is more research and development to be done on aerogardening.