There’s no denying the rush of excitement when the first blooms begin to appear in your garden. You haven’t killed it! You’ll soon have fruit and veggies for the table! Yahoo!!!
After a moment… the emotions and adrenaline subside, and then you remember something from biology class all those years ago in a galaxy far, far away (at least for me): the flowers will simply remain flowers unless you do something about it.
Welcome to the world of pollination.
Remember that these Aerogardens are meant to be grown inside, so the normal natural pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and the wind won’t be able to do the work for you. Once blooms begin to open, growers need to pay a bit more attention.
The question therefore becomes, how do we be the bee?
Aerogarden’s website gives some general guidance on this, thankfully, so that you don’t have to do hours of research on the types of flowers you have and what specifically to do with each. To sum up both the contents of that article plus my own trial-and-error processes:
(1) Have some sort of consistent “pollinator device,” whether it’s Aerogarden’s vibrating bee pollinator (which sounds really weird and giggle-worthy, and it is, but also effective), or a clean q-tip. Like the humble bumble, use whatever device you have to gently move around in the flower before moving onto the next one, letting the pollen spread easily from flower to flower within the same plant species. Don’t forget to revisit the first bloom!
(2) Create a routine for pollinating the flowers each day, or every two to three days at the most. Outdoor plants are visited by insects sometimes several times a day, so the more often the better. That said, our lives as humans do not revolve around our home plants, pandemic or no, so daily works just fine! The routine also helps if you have only a couple of blooms open on a plant, but others seem to follow close behind by a day or so.
(3) Due to pruning needs, you may have to snip away some of the buds about to flower. Don’t stress too much over this — it happens and may need to occur for the plant’s overall health. You’ll get more flowers as the plant thrives. Further, existing flowers will get more energy from the plant as a result. It may not speed up fruit set, but also remember how much heavier the fruit will grow as it ripens; you don’t want to overwhelm and kill the plant with too much weight.
Note that the above tips apply primarily to vegetables planted in your Aerogarden. If your gardens contain herbs, in many cases the flowers can alter the flavors of harvested leaves, such as in the case of basil and oregano. With that said, basil flowers and chamomile flowers, to name a few, are edible. It all depends on your harvesting and use goals.