Start With The Source - The Process of Seed Selection
Anyone growing in an AeroGarden knows that the seeds are a huge part of the success of your garden. AeroGarden takes great pride in the rigorous testing and research that goes into our seed pod development. We sat down with Emma Neuberger, Product Development Scientist, to find out more about the process of seed selection and development.
Tell us about the process of researching and selecting new varieties for Seed Pod Kits: Well one of our recent projects was looking for tomato and pepper varieties that do well in the Farm family of gardens. We have great relationships with seed suppliers that focus on hydroponic growing, so we know their seeds will be right for AeroGarden models. From there we looked for varieties that would produce a lot of fruit in a compact plant. We also want to make sure they are fun to grow, meaning they have pretty blossoms and grow quickly. Then we’ll do multiple taste tests in the office with different stages of the fruit. It’s really fun when we’re experimenting with new seed varieties, and we’ve tested hundreds of tomato varieties over the years, looking for just the rights ones for AeroGardens.
And how do you determine what you need to be researching: We’ll look at what our current offering is and where there may be gaps. We have a strong directive to focus on edible varieties, since our customers really love growing food for themselves and their families in their AeroGardens. But we also want to make sure we are offering new, unique varieties that AeroGardeners may be starting to see pop up on menus, or are really neat to watch grow and mature. And one of our favorite sources is our customers! We pay a lot of attention to posts social media, on the AeroGarden Facebook page, and what people might be saying to Customer Service about what they wish we offered, or what they might be growing themselves in our Grow Anything kits. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job – seeing how creative and adventurous AeroGardeners get with their gardens! We always get great ideas from the AeroGarden community.
You mentioned focusing a lot on food. Are there any plans to offer new seed varieties in our Flower Seed Pod Kit category: Absolutely! Food is great, but it’s always nice to come home to beautiful flowers every day in January. We are looking into more ornamental plants now, including some tropical and cacti varieties that do really well in the Grow Bowl. But more to come on that – I can’t give away too much!
We offer a 100% Germination Guarantee on all our Pre-Seeded Pods. What kind of work goes into making sure we can stand by our seed pods like that: We are constantly running germination tests on all our seed varieties, even those we’ve been selling for years. We want to make sure we are always sending our customers the high quality seeds they should expect from us. When selecting a new variety, our germination test will start with a large, statistically significant sample size. If we don’t see 100% germination on all the seeds we’re sampling from a supplier or variety, we do not move forward with that seed. It really narrows down our options pretty quickly, so we’re only focused on seeds that we know will consistently have a very high success rate.
Anything else you want to make sure AeroGardeners keep in mind to ensure their gardening success: Well, always make sure you’re pruning your plants so they keep getting the full benefits of the Grow Lights. And keep your garden away from windows if possible, as the heat from the sun coming through can wreak havoc on delicate plants. And it’s always beneficial to do a rinse and refill once a month or so. It restores balance to the water giving you bigger yields and more nutrient-dense veggies. And keep posting those photos of what you’re growing - we love seeing all your success stories!