Dan here today. Many of the dishes Beth and I like to make, particularly anything from the Naked Chef cookbooks, call for fresh herbs. Unfortunately, fresh herbs can be a pain to work with. They tend to be a bit on the pricey side, and they don’t keep well in the fridge. Time after time, much like Cindy Lauper, I found myself buying a 2/3 oz package for a recipe I was planning and using only half of it. Then, the rest of the herbs would get lost, I would look and I would find them…a week or so later, after most of the leaves had turned black and they had started to decompose. At this point they went into the garbage, time after time. Time after time. After a while, I began replacing fresh herbs with dried herbs whenever possible. In some cases, this worked fine, but with a few herbs, like basil and mint, there is really no substitute for fresh.
Enter the Aerogarden. Beth had been eyeing one of these hydroponic herb gardens for awhile, and a couple of months ago, we bit the bullet and decided to get one. It wasn’t cheap – the price was close to $100 - but it did come with a starter seed kit featuring seven kinds of herbs that we picked from a list of twenty or so choices. We chose mint, dill, and three different kinds of basil, since these are the hardest herbs to replace with dried, in my opinion, then filled out our kit with thyme and oregano. Why we didn’t get any sage escapes me at the moment.
The seeds arrived in little cups, which we inserted into pods in the Aerogarden. We filled the base with water, dumped in a packet of nutrients, installed the grow bulbs (yes, grow bulbs), and turned the thing on. It was important to us that the garden be idiot-proof, since Beth has a brown thumb and I have no track record with plants at all, and sure enough, it was. Now all we have to do is refill the water and dump in another packet of nutrients whenever the warning lights come on and, of course, harvest the herbs.
So far I wouldn’t say the Aerogarden has paid for itself, but it certainly has been useful. When Beth wants some herbs in her salad, I can walk over to the garden and snip off a few leaves of whatever needs to be pruned. And last night, I made pork chops with the fresh thyme the recipe called for instead of using dried. Of course, I still went to the store to get basil for the pesto sauce, since even with three kinds of basil, the garden wasn’t producing enough. We love our pesto. Still, overall, I think the garden was a good purchase. Also, this was not a paid endorsement, but if the Aerogrow people somehow got wind of this and decided they wanted to send us a free seed kit or two, I certainly wouldn’t object.