HerbDoc has some thoughts on the AeroGarden:
I’ve often thought about having an AeroGarden for growing winter vegetables and was pleasantly surprised when my husband purchased the 6 Elite+ for me at Christmastime. This particular unit is said to be the top of the line and provides twice the height (2 feet) on an extendable arm and 50% more light (4350 lumens) than the standard AeroGarden 6.
The unit itself is black with brushed stainless trim and includes a trellis system. It supposedly can be set to turn on and off for specified amounts of time, but I’ve had no luck here. It automatically turns off at 5:30 PM, but although it’s set for vegetables on a 12 hour cycle, it insists on turning on at 2:30 every morning. The system also has a 24 hour light cycle which makes no sense since plants need both dark and light periods to grow. The unit came with two pods planted with Ruby heirloom tomato seeds, four spacer pods and a bag of organic fertilizer tablets.
I set up and planted the garden about 2 weeks after Christmas. On the positive side, the pods germinated in 10 days, and the plants are currently fifteen inches high, in full flower, and have covered the base. The smell of tomato greenery is wonderful when the plants are touched! I also carefully checked my electric bill, and there has been little or no change.
My only complaints have been with the ornery timer system and the very noisy, buzzing base which contains the air pump. I contacted AeroGarden immediately about the noise because it could be heard three rooms away, and they have promised a replacement. One other drawback of the AeroGarden is that well water cannot be used in the unit; city water or distilled water is fine.
In order to save money, I plan to save and clean the pods, replacing the sponges with new grow sponges or rock wool. I will also use my own seeds in the future and fertilize with Para Vida Bloom which will not clog hydroponic systems. What really looks interesting to me now is AeroGarden’s optional “Garden Starter Tray” for the Elite 6+, in which 66 seedlings can be started for planting outdoors.