One sleepless night, I was watching QVC. And there it was: AeroGarden Pro100, a tabletop gardening kit that calls itself “aeroponic.” Perfect for urban apartments, the presenter claimed (no dirt, fresh air, or natural light needed!), so I ordered one, for $181, three seed pod kits included. (A less elaborate $149.95 version is available at Bed Bath & Beyond, 620 Sixth Ave., nr. 18th St.; 212-255-3550.) The Pro100 has an indicator panel that lets you know when you need to add water. Assembly took about ten minutes: To set it up, I screwed in the “Grow Bulbs,” attached the hood and base, and put the bowl, with holes for individual seed pods, into the base. To “plant,” I added water to the bowl, then dropped the salad-greens pods in the holes, put little plastic domes over them, and added nutrient tablets. It all seemed a little sci-fi antiseptic, but three days later, the blend of seven lettuces began to sprout. Within three weeks, I had a fluffy bouquet of fresh leaves, which tasted great. Next, the herb kit: mint, dill, cilantro, parsley, chives, purple basil, and Italian basil. By week four, almost everything was growing robustly, especially the chives and basil (but the cilantro never showed). My omelettes were delicious! I finished the growing season with three pods’ worth of cherry tomatoes. By week four, I had leaves and vinelets; at eight weeks, tiny tomatoes emerged. Most were reddish, a couple were green, and the taste was more D’Agostino than Whole Foods. The whole experiment took fifteen weeks, and all that greenery made my tiny kitchen more pleasant. As far as eating, it doesn’t get much more locavore.
Tested: AeroGarden Pro100
$181 at QVC; 888-345-5788