Oct 15, 2008

Ode to Ensalada Caprese
or "We're Aerogardening"

Our girls gave us an AeroGarden. They know I have a serious basil addiction from which I suffer greatly all winter long (basil grows like a weed in hot weather but turns into black, slimy muck at the first forecast of frost) and my mental health depends on a steady supply of fresh herbs at all times. And it is a fact of life in this house that Caprese salad--fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, and balsamic vinegar--keeps me in a good humor when consumed on a regular basis. Thanks to the girls, my little garden is going to keep me in the happy place this winter.

An AeroGarden is a hydroponic garden that circulates highly fertilized water through little spongy plugs embedded with seeds and gently bathes the little guys in artificial sunlight for ten to twelve hours a day. There are several garden "themes" available, but the girls hooked me up with the gourmet herb version which sports not one but two types of basil. How cool is that?

Morley and I found a spot in the kitchen for our new garden, filled it with water, dropped in the little foam plugs, and added the little nutrient tablet. And then I hit the "on" button and the kitchen was instantly flooded with a bright light--really bright light. As in, "ET, phone home" bright light.

The light spooked the cats so much that they hauled tail to hide under the sofa for a couple of hours and Shelby dove for cover under the dining room table. Once Morley and I found protective eye wear and waited for the sunspots to fade from our field of vision, we agreed that the "artificial sunlight" an Aerogarden puts out is akin to having an alien spacecraft land inside your house. Morley is still getting used to it but I just look at our AeroGarden as being a handy night light. For everyone in our zip code.

But apparently gourmet herbs really groove on all that bright light and water circulation. Here's our garden sometime around day 7:

The little herbs are beginning to poke their heads up and some of them have already gotten big enough that we removed their little plastic domes.

And here's our little herb garden around day 20 or so:

All those herbs are jumping out of their little foam plugs and growing like crazy. And the best part...

The basil really, really likes it.

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