The Colorado-based brand AeroGarden heads the hydroponic industry with their beginner-friendly indoor gardening systems. Currently, the company offers four types of gardens (or family, as they would call it) - Farm, Bounty, Harvest, and Sprout.
In this review, we’re diving down to their second cheapest garden range - the Harvest garden, more specifically the Harvest Elite 360, which has garnered positive reviews since its introduction.
Here’s our unbiased AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 review.
- 1 Should You Buy the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360?
- 2 How the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 Performs
- 2.1 Upfront Costs
- 2.2 Durability and Design
- 2.3 Usability / Ease of Use
- 2.4 Maintenance
- 2.5 Winner of Size & Space: Mr Stacky
- 3 Things to Consider Before Getting an AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360
- 4 Be an Elite in Hydroponic Gardening
Should You Buy the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360?
You should buy the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 if you find AeroGarden’s Sprout range too limiting. The higher number of pod count, paired with a taller grow height, translates to a broader range of plant varieties that you can grow right from your kitchen countertop. And, with a Vacation Mode built-in, you can have peace of mind that the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 can keep your herbs and plants alive and thriving even when you take a weekend gateway.
How the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 Performs
In our AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 review, we’ve found that this AeroGarden model lives up to the hydroponic indoor gardening hype. Not only is it easy to manage, but it also delivers on the promise of hassle-free, fool-proof indoor gardening, even for those with a black thumb.
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The Harvest range sits between the Bounty and Sprout lines, which means it’s neither cheap nor expensive.
In the AeroGarden Harvest Elite collection, there are three models to choose from - the Harvest Elite, Harvest Elite Slim, and the Harvest Elite 360. All three models have the same price tags. They only differ in terms of shape, footprint, and built-in features.
However, if you compare any of the AeroGarden Harvest Elite models to other hydroponic garden systems with the same growing capacity, the upfront cost can be twice more.
In our AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 review, the price difference is well worth the investment because the garden is ready to use out of the box.
Durability and Design
Similar to other AeroGarden models, the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 comes in a sleek, countertop-friendly design. The difference is that, compared to the base model (the Harvest), the Harvest Elite 360 exudes a more premium finish and a more compact footprint.
Instead of plastic like the Harvest base model, the Elite 360 opts for a stainless steel finish, which is easier to maintain - all you need is a clean cloth to wipe down accumulated dirt on its surface. You can also choose from three color options - white, stainless steel, and platinum-stainless.
And, unlike the base model (the Harvest), the Elite 360 is available in a round shape.
Tip: If you are confused with the whole AeroGarden Harvest line-up, check whether or not it has “360” in the name. The Harvest base model and the Harvest Elite are rectangular. On the other hand, “360” models arrives in a round shape.
This choice of shape can be a dealbreaker, especially if your kitchen countertop’s width is narrow. In our case, this wasn’t an issue at all.
Usability / Ease of Use
Despite having the word “Elite” in its product name, the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 is suitable for beginner gardeners. Even those with a black thumb will find this hydroponic countertop garden system breeze to set up and use.
In our AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 review, it only took us around five minutes (and even less) to have everything set up. We also love that we didn’t have to purchase seeds or liquid nutrients to start.
When you get an AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360, you will receive the following:
- Garden system
- Grow light
- Power adapter
- Grow domes
- Plant food
- Seed pod kit
Aside from these inclusions, all you need to add is water to start countertop hydroponic growing.
The entire setup process only took us seven steps:
- Attach the bowl to the base.
- Connect the grow deck to the bowl.
- Plug the power adapter into the garden system. You’ll find the port behind the base.
- Remove the water cover found on the grow deck.
- Add water and plant food to the “Fill to Here” and re-attach the water cover.
- Insert the pods into the grow deck.
- Cover the pods with the included grow domes.
Once you have all the components connected, the next step is setting up the garden.
Control Panel and Garden Settings
One of the best features you’ll appreciate with the Harvest Elite 360 is its control panel. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it takes the guesswork out of hydroponic gardening.
Setting Up the Garden
At the front section of the base, you will find a simple control panel with an LCD display. The rightmost button with the AeroGarden logo lets you see the menu options. There are upward and downward buttons to navigate through the settings.
When setting up your garden for the first time, all you need to do is:
- Tap the button with the AeroGarden logo.
- Use the upward or downward button to find the “Start A Garden.”
- Tap the AeroGarden button again.
- Set the clock.
- Select the Plant Type.
Tip: Keep in mind that you should select the plant type based on the pod kit that you have. This is because AeroGarden has a pre-determined grow light length exposure. For instance, the Veggies settings mean that the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 garden system will provide 16 hours of light.
Once you have the garden set up, the LCD display will show the clock, as well as the days planted and the plant food timer.
Grow Light Settings
If you want more control over the light settings, there is an option in the control panel when the light turns on. All you need to do is:
- Tap the AeroGarden button.
- Scroll down the menu options.
- Choose the setting “Set Lights ON Time.”
What makes the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 stand out from the rest of the models in the Harvest line-up is its inclusion of the Vacation Mode.
This feature, which is accessible through the control panel settings, minimizes the garden system’s use of water and nutrients. It also cuts back the grow light length exposure. That means your indoor garden can survive on its own, even when you are not at home.
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Growing Capacity and Rate
All AeroGarden models in the Harvest range (the Harvest, Harvest Elite, and Harvest Elite 360) offer the same 6-pod capacity. This may not seem a lot, but given that you can only grow three plants with the Sprout, AeroGarden’s entry-level hydroponic garden system, the 6-pod capacity is certainly a welcome upgrade.
We have the Gourmet Herbs Seed Pod Kit bundled with the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360. According to AeroGarden, it will germinate between 5 to 15 days. And, true to enough, the pods started to sprout around week two. Near the end of the third week, the pods were already growing.
Tip: Remember that the germination rate will depend on the pod kit you select. For instance, if you get the flower pod kit, expect to wait around 7 to 12 days before seeing or noticing the seeds sprouting from the grow deck.
Unlike traditional gardening, the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 also offers a mess-free way of growing herbs, flowers, and veggies. Still, this indoor garden system will require maintenance from you.
AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360’s grow light arm is adjustable. Unfortunately, it can only expand up to 12-inches high. This is not necessarily a downside, but if you are growing tall varieties of tomatoes, you will need to prune them.
Rinse and Refill
Periodic changes of the water and nutrient solution are necessary, regardless of what model of AeroGarden model you will be getting. AeroGarden recommends rinsing and refilling the liquid reservoir every four to 6 weeks.
Tip: You don’t need to take your AeroGarden system apart. All you need is a siphon.
Winner of Size & Space: Mr Stacky
While Mr Stacky may offer the lowest number of plants, 20 plants is still a large number of plants for a very small space.
Whenever you start a new pod kit, it is highly recommended to clean the reservoir of your AeroGarden. This is to kill pathogens that would otherwise harm your new pods. Cleaning is relatively easy - you simply disassemble your Harvest Elite 360 and put it on the top rack of your dishwasher.
In order for the pods to germinate and grow, you will need to provide them with liquid plant food. In the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360, you will need to replenish nutrients every two weeks. Every feeding will be two caps full.
Tip: If you are forgetful, the AeroGarden button will light up every two weeks to remind you to top up your garden with plant food.
Things to Consider Before Getting an AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360
AeroGarden’s Harvest Elite 360 is a wonderful choice for homeowners who want to start indoor hydroponic gardening. However, there are a couple things you should consider before getting one. This include:
Very Bright Grow Light
One of the best things about owning an AeroGarden is that you don’t need a sunny window to grow herbs, flowers, or veggies. This is because the Harvest Elite 360 and other models have a built-in full-spectrum grow light that mimics the sunlight. Unfortunately for you, the 20W grow light of the Harvest Elite 360 is very bright.
One workaround is to match it with your body clock, meaning set the garden’s light to turn on in the morning and schedule it to turn off at night.
The AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 comes bundled with a free 6-pod kit. You have three options - the Gourmet Herbs Seed Pod Kit, Heirloom Salad Greens Seed Pod Kit, and the Cascading Petunias Seed Pod Kit.
The pod kits are pre-packed, meaning you can’t choose specific seeds. For instance, the Gourmet Herbs Seed Pod Kit comes with:
- Genovese Basil
- Curly Parsley
- Thai Basil
If you aren’t a fan of one or two herbs of the pod kit, you don’t get the chance to swap it out. You either make a separate order for AeroGarden’s 6-pod custom kit or get their Grow Anything Kit that allows you to use your own seeds.
Varying Grow Rates
You should be mindful when choosing seed pods for your AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360. As much as possible, you should only select herbs, vegetables, and flowers with the same germination, growth rate, and light requirements. If not, you’ll have plants fighting for nutrients and light to stay alive.
Limited Growing Height
As mentioned earlier, the grow light of the AeroGarden Harvest Elite 360 can only expand to 12 inches. So, unless you stick to short varieties of herbs, vegetables, and flowers, you will always prune your plants.
AeroGarden offers a fool-proof way to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers indoors. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t spend money to keep it from running.
In addition to its expensive upfront cost, you will need to set aside an extra budget for the liquid plant food, which is necessary for any hydroponic gardening setup. Aside from this, once you have expended the harvesting life of your pods, you will need to repurchase again - especially if you want an all-year-round indoor garden.
Be an Elite in Hydroponic Gardening
AeroGarden’s Harvest Elite 360 checks all the boxes for hassle-free hydroponic indoor gardening. It is easy to set up, convenient to maintain and looks sleek and modern on the kitchen countertop.
What makes the Harvest Elite 360 a better choice than other models in the Harvest range is its Vacation Mode. It is a valuable feature for homeowners who want to keep their herbs or flowers thriving even when they are away for an out-of-town getaway.
But if you spend most of your days inside your home or have someone to look after your hydroponic garden system, you won’t find Vacation Mode much to your advantage. The Harvest Elite is better suited for your needs. The base Harvest model and the Harvest Elite Slim are also great alternatives if you don’t mind a plastic build.