Going away but want to make sure your plants are alive? Then get an Aerogarden with vacation mode! Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining your hydroponic plants while on vacation.
Aerogarden Vacation Mode
If you’re looking at which Aerogarden unit to buy, I personally highly recommend getting a model with vacation mode.
I travel often for work and find it makes a big difference!
With vacation mode, you can program the machine to run on a lowered light and water schedule. Instead of the usual on/off light schedule, an Aerogarden set to Vacation Mode will run for about 50% of the time.
This causes the plants to use less water, while still keeping them alive while you’re away.
Not all the Aerogarden models have this handy feature though!
Aerogarden Models with Vacation Mode
Here are the current models that have this handy feature
- Harvest Elite
- Harvest Elite 360
- Bounty Basic
- Bounty Elite
- Farm 12
- Farm 12 XL
- Farm 24 Basic
- Farm 24 Plus
- Farm 24 XL
How long is Aerogarden Vacation Mode?
Aerogarden says you can use Vacation Mode to safely leave your plants away for about 2 weeks.
I’ve gone away for as long as 3 weeks and successfully kept my plants alive, with a couple other tricks, which I’ll share below!
But as a warning – I don’t recommend leaving your plants away for too long. When I came back, all my plants were alive, but they had grown wildly tall and a bit out of control.
Fill the Tank Up with Water
Before I leave, I make sure to fill every Aerogarden grow basin with a full tank of water.
Just don’t go too far past the ‘Fill to Here’ marker.
While Aerogardens are hydroponic units that have plants growing in water, the roots still need air.
The gap between the ‘Fill to Here’ marker and the top of the grow basin leaves some space in the grow bowl for the roots to receive oxygen.
If you overwater, you’ll actually cause the roots to drown (which will make them brown, slimy and start to rot).
Use an Aerovoir… or two!
Each Aerogarden has two holes in the back of the machine, plugged by little rubber stoppers.
The Bounty models have even more (about 8 holes) due to the way their trellis system works.
So you actually have space to use multiple Aerovoirs per Aerogarden!
With a full grow basin of water plus two extra Aerovoirs that each hold 1.3 gallons, that’s a lot of water for your plants!
Trim the Roots
So, I’ve found that keeping your plants hydrated isn’t the only limiting factor in going away. Another thing to consider is the height of the Aerogarden lights.
Because plants are limited to the height of the Aerogarden, I try to keep them as compact and bushy as possible so they won’t grow up into the lights.
When I go away, I trim the roots right before I leave so that the plants spend a bit of energy re-growing their roots and less energy on growing taller.
Aerogarden actually doesn’t recommend trimming plant roots, but personally I think a good trim every now and then is helpful.
There’s limited space in the Aerogarden tanks.
So over time, the plant roots will grow into each other and tangle themselves up. Plant roots can also grow into the pump and clog the filter, causing the whole system to fail.
Whether you’re leaving for vacation or not, every couple weeks or months I recommend checking on the roots and seeing if they need a trim.
I’ll especially give the a roots a nice haircut right before I leave on vacation. The plants will take a day or so to recover from the haircut and the shorter roots won’t suck in quite as much water.
Prune the Plants
I also do a bit of pruning to the plants before going away.
Similar to trimming the roots, pruning leaves will set the plant back slightly and keep it from growing taller, which is handy when you leave for vacation.
For lettuces and Asian veggies, I’ll do a big harvest and make a salad or stir fry so that they have enough space to re-grow new leaves while I’m away on vacation.
For fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers, I’ll do a prune of the top leaves to the plant. This also has the benefit of encouraging the plants to put more energy into the lower portion of the plant, and keeps it more productive.Read more: How to Prune Peppers for Maximum Production
Know Your Plants
How quickly your plants will drink up the water in the tank depends on which plants you have, how many plants you have and how mature they are.
In the beginning, when my plants were seedlings they barely took up any water because the root system wasn’t very developed. They could easily go a week on one full water tank without needing a refill.
Right now, they’re 135 days old.
They’re pretty full grown at this point and need a lot of water.
With 4 pepper plants and 2 tomato plants in the Farm XL, I have to re-fill the tank every other day.
I really shouldn’t have put so many plants in but it is what it is and I didn’t have the heart to kill any of them!
So by doing a root trim, leaf pruning, using Vacation Mode and multiple Aerovoir water tanks.. I managed to keep my plants alive for 3 weeks!
If you’ve spent months nurturing your plants, you want to do everything you can to make sure they live.
Leaving Your Aerogarden on Vacation
And finally, a couple more tips and tricks!
I have a Youtube video covering everything you need to know about leaving your plants unattended here:
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