In this article, I experiment with growing baby bok choy in my AeroGarden Harvest, using two different types of AeroGarden sponges. For half of the bok choy, I used the regular AeroGarden sponges. For the other half, I used cheaper AeroGarden knock off sponges. I wanted to see if the cheaper AeroGarden knock off sponges would work as well as the name brand sponges. I’m all about saving money with my AeroGarden!
AeroGarden Knock Off Sponges Experiment
Pro Tip: You can get both of the AeroGarden sponges that I demonstrate in this article on Amazon: Authentic AeroGarden Sponges and AeroGarden knock off sponges.
I love my AeroGarden! In general, I feel that AeroGardens are better quality than off brands such as iDoo. The problem is that many of the AeroGarden accessories are expensive. So, while I’m willing to pay higher prices for the actual AeroGardens, I try to save money on the accessories.
AeroGarden Knock Off Accessories Aren’t Always a Good Option
Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a reason why something is cheaper. At least according to some, the AeroGarden knock off sponges that I purchased are a major flop.
I first learned about this cheaper alternative for AeroGarden sponges from a video by the YouTube channel, AeroGarden Experiments. Unfortunately, someone in the comment section of that video stated that he had used these knock off sponges, and that they didn’t work. He left that comment multiple times and was extremely passionate about his experience.
According to him, the problem wasn’t germination. The problem was that while these knock off AeroGarden sponges worked fine for germination, the roots couldn’t grow through the sponges, and because of that, the plants died.
The sad thing is, by the time I read his comments, I had already ordered these AeroGarden sponge alternatives. And I didn’t order just a few. I ordered a package of 100 sponges.
There were some instructions on the AeroGarden knock off sponges Amazon listing that weren’t on the package. The listing said to soak the sponges for three to five minutes before using.
Now, I had no idea if the person who said these sponges didn’t work followed those instructions. But before using the sponges, I made a point to soak them for a full five minutes.
The Results of Using the Cheaper Alternative for AeroGarden Sponges
Here are the results of using the cheaper alternative for AeroGarden Sponges.
Here is what things look like on day seven, of my experiment with growing bok choy using Aerogarden knock off sponges.
First, you can see that the actual growth of the bok choy is pretty much the same on each side. If anything, the side with the knock off sponges is a bit better.
But remember, based on the comments from the person with the back experience with the AeroGarden knock off sponges, I’m more concerned with root health than I am with initial germination.
So now let’s take a look at the roots. First, we’ll look at the root development on the authentic AeroGarden sponges. Out of the three AeroGarden sponges, roots were growing through the sponges on two of the sponges. However, at this point, there weren’t a lot of roots growing through.
Now let’s take a look at the root growth on the AeroGarden knock off sponges.
At this point, there were NO roots growing through on the knock off sponges. But bear in mind that there was some, but not much root action on the authentic AeroGarden sponges.
At this point it’s too early to say that the knock off sponges aren’t working.
Just a day later, you can see that there is substantial growth happening on both sides. Now let’s take a look at the roots.
First, we’ll take a look at the root growth on the authentic AeroGarden sponges.
You can see that there is quite a bit of roots poking through the AeroGarden sponges.
Now let’s take a look at the root growth on the AeroGarden knock off sponges.
The roots are also growing through the knock off sponges as well.
As a side note let me say that at this point, I decided to thin out the bok choy. You can technically grow more than one baby bok choy in each AeroGarden sponge. However, in my experience, the bok choy grows bigger and is healthier if there is only one baby bok choy growing in each sponge.
There are two ways to remove the extra plants growing in an AeroGarden sponge. You can cut the sponge in half and gently remove one of the plants. This allows you to grow the extra plants if desired.
However, in this case, especially since I wanted to test the sponges for root growth, I didn’t want to do anything that would alter the sponges. So, I decided to use scissors to cut out extra plants.
Note that you want to remove the less healthy plants and leave the strongest plants intact. In addition to using scissors, you can also gently tug the plants you want to remove. However, when doing so, you risk disturbing the roots of the plant you want to keep. So, removing extra plants with scissors is my preferred method.
Here we are at day 14 of growing baby bok choy in an AeroGarden. You can see that at this point, substantial growth has occurred. But let’s take a look at the roots and see if the roots of the plants growing in the AeroGarden knock off sponges are doing as well.
First, we’ll look at the roots of the baby bok choy growing in authentic AeroGarden sponges.
Look at that nice long root!
Next, let’s take a look at the roots growing in the AeroGarden knock off sponges.
The roots on the knock off sponges are also growing great!
Here we are, just three weeks after planting baby bok choy in the AeroGakrden.
Look how beautiful the bok choy has grown in such a short time!
The interesting thing is, if anything, the baby bok choy that is growing in the AeroGarden knock off sponges is actually doing a bit better than the bok choy growing in the authentic AeroGarden sponges.
Now, let’s take a look at the root growth on each side. First, we’ll check the roots of the bok choy growing in the authentic AeroGarden sponges.
Now, let’s take a look at the roots of the bok choy growing in the AeroGarden knock off sponges.
Did the AeroGarden Knock Off Sponges Work?
I think it’s pretty clear that the AeroGarden knock off sponges worked well. However, there are a couple of things that I don’t like about them, compared to the authentic AeroGarden sponges.
The first thing is that you need to soak them in water for three to five minutes before using them. While that’s not a huge deal, it makes them a bit less convenient than the brand name AeroGarden sponges. Also, since I had to soak the sponges, my hands were wet.
That made it more difficult for me to handle the seeds, and I ended up picking up more seeds than intended. In addition to that, some of the water that was on my hands dripped into the bowl that had the seeds and got seeds wet. I obviously had to toss the wet seeds. So, while I saved a bit of money on the sponges, the process was less convenient, and I wasted seeds.
A bigger issue for me was that it wasn’t until after I ordered and received the AeroGarden knock off sponges that I saw the label on the bag that the sponges were made in China. You can see that information in the lower right on the image below.
That may or may not matter to you, but due to the human rights violations in China, as well as some unsafe practices, I avoid buying products made in China as much as possible.
However, the thing is, even though AeroGarden is an American company, many American companies also have their products made in China. As I was writing this article, I contacted AeroGarden support to find out where their sponges are made. Here’s a screenshot from the chat I had with AeroGarden support:
That may or may not matter to you, but if you prefer to buy American-made products, then I recommend buying the name-brand AeroGarden sponges. This is especially true because at least in this case, the cost difference was minimal.
- AeroGarden Grow Sponge Alternatives
- AeroGarden Microgreens Growing Medium Alternatives
- 5 Easy Ways to Save Money on an AeroGarden
Here are some of my favorite AeroGarden resources
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to grow some of your own food in an AeroGarden!
Here are some AeroGarden tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I actually use and recommend and believe in 100%!
AeroGardens that I Personally Have (and why I like each type)
The AeroGarden Sprout is the smallest AeroGarden available. As such, it is best for small plants such as most herbs, lettuce, and greens such as baby bok choy. If you’re on a limited budget, or if you just want to give AeroGarden a try, this is a good garden to start with.
The AeroGarden Harvest is the most popular AeroGarden model, for good reason. It’s quite a bit larger than the Sprout, but is still pretty low cost. Especially with proper pruning, you can even grow things such as cherry tomatoes and peppers. If you prefer more bells and whistles, check out the AeroGarden Harvest Elite.
The AeroGarden Harvest XL is a step above the AeroGarden Harvest. I love this because it provides a bit more space in between plants than the Harvest, and also gives you 6 more inches of growing height. This helps a lot with plants that tend to grow tall. If I was going to only purchase one type of AeroGarden, it would be either the Harvest or Harvest XL.
The AeroGarden Bounty is ideal if you want to grow larger plants such as ground cherries. It’s also great for many other plants that may grow larger such as peppers and tomatoes. If you prefer an option with more bells and whistles, then the AeroGarden Bounty Elite is the way to go.
Here are the AeroGarden accessories that I personally use and enjoy.
AeroGarden nutrients are the best food for AeroGardens. You can save money if you buy the 1 liter size. I recommend saving the smaller AeroGarden nutrient bottles and refilling them from the larger bottle of nutrients.
MaxiGro and MaxiBloom are good AeroGarden nutrient alternatives. They aren’t as convenient as the AeroGarden nutrients, but if you’re on a budget, these are the nutrients I recommend. Use MaxiGro for greens and MaxiBloom for fruiting plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
AeroGarden Sponges are a more cost-effective option than the pre-seeded AeroGarden pods.
AeroGarden compatible sponges from Urban Leaf are a great option if you prefer growing medium made from coco coir instead of peat moss.