On 21st November, the AeroGarden started making more of a noise than usual, emitting a high-pitched whine. When I showed Ryan, he immediately spotted that the pump was barely making any bubbles, and diagnosed a blockage in the aerator.
I lifted out the plants and put them in a tub of water while Ryan fiddled with the AeroGarden. It’s not the best design – the tiny hole the air bubbles come out of faces towards the edge of the container, so there’s very limited access. Ryan tried to unplug the hole with a bottle brush, and then we used an eco-friendly (100% citric acid) descaler and warm water to remove any scale build-up.
I reassembled the cleaned AeroGarden, and it worked fine, so I put the plants back in with fresh water and feed.
Fast forward to Saturday. The AeroGarden was whining again and making a pitiful amount of bubbles. When I turned off the pump and turned it back on again, it stopped making bubbles at all.
So I aborted the AeroGarden Cuttings mission, just at the point where Space Lemon Balm was starting to grow roots. I potted the lemon balm into compost, along with Space Mint and Space Sage. With the plants safely back on Earth, Ryan took another look at the AeroGarden.
As it turns out, there’s a special tool for unblocking the aerator. Ryan found a reference to it on the base of the AeroGarden, and I found it in the box. We have used it, and the aerator is unblocked. According to the instructions (which we hadn’t read in a while), we should be using the tool to unblock the aerator every month or so. Lesson learned! 😳
This means the AeroGarden is ready for a new mission, so I will have to think about what I want to try next. In the meantime, Ryan thinks he may be able to make it quieter. Part of the reason the AeroGarden is so noisy is that the sides of the plastic trough bow outwards slightly when it’s full of water, and the tray in which the plants sit doesn’t then fit nicely. Ryan reckons he can fashion some sort of brace to keep things in place. He needs the AeroGarden to be offline while he takes some measurements and does some tinkering, so my Space Garden is currently in Space Dock, awaiting an upgrade.
For a short time on Saturday I thought that the AeroGarden might be permanently broken, and I was very sad about that. Although it has its faults, I love my Space Garden. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching it bring its original crew of seeds to life, nurture a batch of seedlings for the Hydroponicum, and take herb cuttings from the garden and grow them into mature, feisty plants. I can’t wait to see what it does next, can you?