In this article I share the results of testing out Handy Pantry microgreens growing mats in the AeroGarden Microgreens Kit.
I’m always looking for ways to save money on growing food in my AeroGardens. In fact, I wrote about it in this article, 5 Easy Ways to Save Money on an AeroGarden.
I’ve experimented with two of my own reusable growing medium options that I make myself. I share about that in my article, AeroGarden Microgreens Growing Medium Alternatives.
The reason I’ve wanted to come up with alternatives for the AeroGarden microgreens felt growing medium is that it’s expensive, and it’s not always available.
Small Microgreen Seeds Fall Through
While I’ve generally been very happy with my DIY AeroGarden microgreens growing medium alternatives, a problem that I’ve had is that smaller seeds fall through.
So, I needed to come up with alternative microgreen growing mats that work in an AeroGarden that I can use with smaller seeds, such as amaranth.
Handy Pantry Micro Mats Microgreen Growing Mats
After a lot of research, I came up with an inexpensive microgreen growing mats alternative that I thought I’d be able to use in my AeroGarden, in spite of not being made to work in an AeroGarden.
That option is the Handy Pantry Micro Mats, which I buy here from True Leaf Market. If you prefer, you can buy them here on Amazon.
Pricing of Handy Pantry Microgreens Growing Mats
There are a couple of benefits to the Handy Pantry microgreens growing mats. The first benefit, is price. I find they are generally a bit cheaper from True Leaf Market compared to Amazon. For comparison’s sake, I’m going to use the True Leaf Marketing pricing to show you the value of these compared to the AeroFelt microgreens growing medium.
Pro Tip: I buy all of my sprouting and microgreen seeds from True Leaf Market. Use this link to get $5 off your first purchase: http://stockingmypantry.com/TLM5
First, let me say that prices fluctuate a bit, but I’ve generally spent around $1.20 for each piece of AeroGarden microgreens felt. There is no price break for buying the AeroGarden felt growing medium in bulk. However, the pricing on the Handy Pantry microgreens growing mats is a bit cheaper when you buy larger packages. Here are the current prices:
- $12.15 for 48 mats ($0.25 each)
- $22.48 for 96 mats ($0.23 each)
- $52.07 for 240 mats ($0.22 each)
- $92.44 for 480 mats ($0.19 each)
I personally purchased the 96 pack because it had a decent price without buying a crazy amount. However, if you plan to grow a lot of microgreens, then the 480 mat package is the best option.
How Well Do the Handy Pantry Microgreens Growing Mats Work?
Saving money on growing food in your AeroGarden is all well and good, but the question is, how well do the microgreens growing mats from Handy Pantry actually work?
I decided to experiment with the micro mats from Handy pantry by using the AeroFelt on one side, and the Handy Pantry microgreen growing mats on the other side.
Here’s the process that I used, along with the results.
Comparing Handy Pantry Microgreen Growing Mats with AeroFelt
In addition to the price difference, there are a couple of other differences between the microgreen growing mats made by Handy Pantry, and the AeroGarden microgreens felt.
One reason that I chose to experiment with the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats is that they are already cut. This saves time and is more convenient than larger pieces of hydroponic growing mediums that require cutting to fit in the AeroGarden.
As you can see in the photo above, the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats are smaller than the felt growing medium made by AeroGarden. Now the good news is that as you’ll see later in this article, the microgreen growing mats made by Handy pantry expand when wet, which helps to close the gaps.
Preparing to Use the Handy Pantry Microgreen Growing Mats
I use a spray bottle to wet both the AeroGarden felt as well as the Handy Pantry micro-mats before putting the seeds on. Seeds adhere better to wet growing medium.
One important note about the Handy Pantry Micro Mats is that once wet, they are pretty fragile. This is why it’s better to use a spray bottle instead of dipping them in water.
You can see in the photo above that the Handy Pantry micro-mats started to curl up when I used the spray bottle to moisten them.
The good news is, I was able to flip them over, and spray them some more, and then the microgreens growing mat flattened out.
Even better news is that as you can see in the photo on the above right, when wet, the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats expanded. While they still don’t fit the AeroGarden perfectly, they are a decent size for using in the AeroGarden Harvest Microgreens Kit.
Add the Seeds
Once both the Handy Pantry microgreens growing mats and the AeroGarden felt were wet, I added one teaspoon of seeds on each side.
I also put domes on each side.
As you can see in the photo above, since the microgreens mat doesn’t completely cover the entire grow deck, once the water went in, there are some seeds on the side.
Once the water stopped pumping in, I lifted up the grow deck and removed the small amount of seeds that had fallen through. Thankfully, it was a small amount and it was easy to remove them.
So, the real question at this point is whether the microgreens will grow well in the AeroGarden, in spite of not using the AeroGarden felt microgreens growing medium.
Day 1 (After 24 Hours)
The next morning when I checked the microgreens, the first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of condensation on both the side where I used the AeroFelt, as well as the side where I used the alternative microgreens growing mats.
When I removed the domes, I could see that there was some germination starting on both the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats as well as on the side using the AeroFelt. From what I could see, germination was more or less equal on both sides.
Day 2 (After 48 Hours)
When I removed the domes about 48 hours in, I found a good amount of growth on both sides. So far, the Handy Pantry microgreens growing medium is performing as well as the name-brand AeroGarden microgreens growing medium.
I put the domes back on, and decided to wait two days before checking the growth.
Day 4 of Testing the Microgreens Growing Mat Performance
Above you can see how things were going after 4 days of growth. By this point, some of the microgreens were touching the top of the domes, so I removed them and kept them off.
From the image on the above right, you can see that the microgreens are growing well on both the AeroGarden microgreens felt on the right and the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats on the left.
The primary difference that you can see between the two is that since the Handy Pantry hydroponic growing mats are a bit smaller, the growing area is a bit smaller. But otherwise, the growth is more or less equal.
Day 7 – Time to Harvest the Microgreens!
After seven days of growth, the AeroGarden microgreens look great! I could have let them grow longer, but I decided to go ahead and harvest the microgreens on the left, grown on the Handy Pantry microgreens growing mats.
I wanted to use them in my morning smoothie, and save the ones on the right for the next morning’s smoothie.
As I typically do, I used scissors to harvest the microgreens. My goal is always to cut the microgreens close to the microgreens growing mat, without cutting into the mat.
The only slight problem that I had with the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats is that when I pulled up on the microgreens to make it easier to cut them, some of the mat ripped.
This is just an example of the mats being somewhat fragile, and because of that they pull apart easily.
This wasn’t an issue, because I just clipped the microgreens off above the growing medium.
Evaluating the Use of Handy Pantry Microgreens Growing Mats in an AeroGarden
If you’ve read this far, you can see that there are both pros and cons to using the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats. The biggest pro is that they are about 1/5 the cost of the AeroGarden felt. They are also very compact. They are thin and flat in the package, so you can store a large amount of mats in a very small space.
Especially in these days when I am concerned about being able to buy microgreen supplies, not to mention the fact that with inflation, prices continue to rise, it’s good to be able to store a lot of the microgreens growing medium in a small space.
The biggest cons are that these microgreen growing mats don’t fit the AeroGarden perfectly, and they are pretty fragile when completely soaked.
In my opinion, considering that the cost savings is so significant, I’d recommend buying the Handy Pantry Micro-Mats instead of the AeroGarden felt. You can buy them here from True Leaf Market, or here from Amazon.
If you enjoyed this article, you will likely also enjoy these articles:
- 5 Easy Ways to Save Money on an AeroGarden
- AeroGarden Grow Sponge Alternatives
- AeroGarden Microgreens Growing Medium Alternatives
- The Ultimate Guide to Growing Microgreens in an AeroGarden Using the AeroGarden Microgreens Kit
- Growing Buckwheat Microgreens in an AeroGarden