After about three months of harvests, the lettuce plants appeared to be ready for the compose pile :-) Actually we have been waiting for this moment because we wanted to see just how much work it would be to clean the unit!
A peek into the reservoir showed that the root system of the pods have made quite home for themselves over the past months. The water is a little brown from something, but no strange growths (mold, fungus, etc..) were evident anywhere.
The first thing to cleaning the unit was to UNPLUG it from the socket. Water and electricity can be a shocking combo. Next step was to move the entire reservoir to the sink. There is no drain hole so the best approach will be to lift the top and dump out the water.
Once we lifted the top, it was clear that this clean up would be pretty simple. The base only required a rinse with soapy water and a wipe down. The hardest part will probably be getting all the roots off.
The pods were quite full of roots. We were not able to salvage the sponge, but the plastic container appeared to be reusable for those interested in trying their hands at starting some seedlings of their own. We are going to try a "MiracleGrow" liquid fertilizer solution and our own seeds to see if we can start some seedling of our own.
There is a small filter at the base of the lamp module which needed to be removed and cleaned. This mesh is there to keep the roots from climbing up the slots. The filter just pulls out. It doesn't really need replacing...just needed to be rinsed and cleaned of any attached roots.
The unit is now ready for a second planting. We were impressed at how quick and easy it was to clean the unit. The entire process took about 15 minutes. Most of that time was spent looking around because we weren't sure exactly what need to be cleaned. We think that next time we do this, it wouldn't take more than 5 minutes to complete that task. Compare THAT to the usually Fall cleanup in the garden :-)