About three years ago, I discovered the Aerogarden and started growing tomatoes in winter and salad in summer. When Aerogarden announced a newer, larger model, I decided to buy it even before it was listed the Aerogarden website. I usually wait a year or two before purchasing new products for my home. Let other people work through the kinks, I'll buy the improved model. But 23 days into the new growing season, I'm very pleased with the new Aerogarden Ultra.
The garden has a larger base that holds seven pods and more water. The hooded lamp can be easily raised until the unit is 33.5 inches tall. The lights are powerful, and the engine is much quieter than the earlier models. There is a blue and white control panel that tells you how many days the garden has been growing and when you need to add plant food.
One large improvement with the Aerogarden Ultra is that the engine is plugged into the base using a cord in the back. I suspect that this one improvement will extend the life of the Aerogarden significantly. In the older Aerogarden units, the parts needed to be cleaned thoroughly between uses or eventually the metal parts that conduct electricity would not work anymore and the base or bowl needed to be replaced.
One challenge with my two older Aerogardens is that neither had a long lifespan. They each lasted between 2 and 3 years with almost non-stop use. The light bulbs need to be changed every 6 months, and the motors on both models needed to be replaced. However, the older Aerogardens are still great for growing seedlings using the garden starter system. The lights and liquid nutrients are perfect for starting many varieties of seeds, and the plants transplant well into the garden. I've tried several times to start seed indoors using soil-less mix without any success. Using the garden starter system, I've started tomatoes, eggplants, melons, squash and cabbages that successfully transplanted to the kitchen garden.
The new unit is easy to put together and the instructions are very simple to use. As long as you pay attention when it tells you to add more water or add food, the unit is almost foolproof. As I mentioned in Hydroponics - gardening without a garden, foolproof is good.