Gar­den­ing Apps & Gear

Apps and Gear for your Best Har­vest Yet

iPhone Life Magazine - - News - by Jac­qui Lane

You don't need a green thumb thanks to these iOS-con­nected tools.

Few things in life are as sat­is­fy­ing as enjoying a meal fresh from your own gar­den. (There's noth­ing like the taste of a cherry tomato still warm from the sun!) Yet any sea­soned gar­dener will tell you that it can be a frus­trat­ing process to ac­tu­ally get to that point. All too of­ten, the work we put into it isn't re­flected at har­vest time. I grew up on a farm, where I watched my grand­par­ents (and my par­ents) grow gor­geous vegetable gar­dens that we en­joyed through­out the year. My own gar­den­ing has been limited to in­door or backyard en­deav­ors that haven't been quite as suc­cess­ful. But it doesn't stop me from try­ing again ev­ery spring. For­tu­nately for peo­ple like me, it's 2018, and we have more tools at our dis­posal than our an­ces­tors did. These apps and smart tools take the guess­work out of gar­den­ing.

Tools for Your Gar­den

You can't con­trol the weather, but know­ing what to ex­pect and un­der­stand­ing your lo­cal weather pat­terns makes it eas­ier to plan for things like tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions, hu­mid­ity, and wind con­di­tions. The AcuRite Weather En­vi­ron­ment Sys­tem ($239.97–$319.98) pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive data about your own hy­per­local cli­mate in both an easy-to-use app and a de­vice with a large color dis­play. The app alerts you to chang­ing weather con­di­tions such as rain­fall, po­ten­tial flood­ing, sud­den tem­per­a­ture drops, and high wind, so you can bring in­door plants in for pro­tec­tion when ne­c­es­sary. You have the op­tion to attach a sen­sor to mon­i­tor soil tem­per­a­ture, an im­por­tant fac­tor when plant­ing cer­tain veg­eta­bles.

Water is one of the most es­sen­tial re­quire­ments for a healthy gar­den, but get­ting it right can be tricky. Too much and you drown your plants; too lit­tle and they'll shrivel up and die. To com­pli­cate things even fur­ther, in some ar­eas water con­ser­va­tion isn't just a nice thing to do, it's manda­tory and you can get fined for us­ing too much. En­ter the Blos­som Smart Wa­ter­ing Controller ($149); this nifty gad­get at­taches to ex­ist­ing sprin­kler sys­tems and de­ter­mines how much water to use based on your weather. Be­cause ev­ery plant is unique in its water needs, the Blos­som app al­lows you to di­vide your gar­den into up to seven zones, based on what you have planted. Each zone gets its own wa­ter­ing sched­uled based on need and lo­cal weather pat­terns.

Creat­ing a great wa­ter­ing sched­ule is im­por­tant, but know­ing when to ac­tu­ally water is half the bat­tle. That's where the Gro Water Sen­sor from Scotts Mir­a­cle Gro ($39.99)—a com­pany that knows a thing or two about gar­den­ing—comes into play; place these sen­sors in your gar­den and know ex­actly how moist or dry your soil is. In the app, you can check your mois­ture level against their data­base to make sure your gar­den is get­ting ex­actly what it needs to thrive. For even more con­trol, the Edyn Gar­den Sen­sor ($99.97) mea­sures not only mois­ture, but light, hu­mid­ity, tem­per­a­ture,

and soil nu­tri­ents as well. The con­nected app takes all of this in­for­ma­tion and cross-checks it with plant data­bases, soil science, and your lo­cal weather to give you guid­ance cus­tom­ized to your spe­cific needs. You can even view his­tor­i­cal data like how much sun­light you've had in the past or how cold re­cent win­ters have been to de­ter­mine how to best care for your gar­den. Not sure what to plant? Check the app to see what va­ri­eties thrive in the con­di­tions of your gar­den and the most op­ti­mal places to plant them. It'll even tell you when to har­vest and no­tify you of plants that need in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion.

Care for In­door Plants

Of course, you don't need a yard to bring a lit­tle green into your life. With ēdn's (not to be con­fused with Edyn) soil-free Wal­lGar­den ($499, ship­ping date TBA), you can grow herbs, veg­eta­bles, and flow­ers in just a few feet of wall space. The in­no­va­tive de­sign is mess-free—no dirt, water, or fer­til­izer is needed to grow up to 14 dif­fer­ent plants at a time. Your Wal­lGar­den au­to­mat­i­cally dis­penses the right amount of water for your plants and ad­justs its LED light­ing to pro­vide the right amount of light, mak­ing it eas­ier than ever to grow a gar­den. The ēdn app con­nects to your gar­den us­ing Wi-Fi and makes it easy to mon­i­tor the hu­mid­ity, tem­per­a­ture, and light sched­ule to pro­vide op­ti­mal grow­ing con­di­tions. The Wal­lGar­den's reser­voir holds two week's worth of water, and will send you a text mes­sage when it's run­ning low. If space is at a pre­mium, ēdn also of­fers a table­top ver­sion called the Smal­lGar­den 2 ($199), with all the ease and ben­e­fits of the Wal­lGar­den in a more com­pact pack­age.

In­door gar­den­ers can also up­grade their pot­ted plants with the Par­rot Pot ($54.99), a con­nected flower pot that tracks the con­di­tion of your plant to make sure it's get­ting what it needs to flour­ish. The pot's four built-in sen­sors track mois­ture level, sun­light, tem­per­a­ture, and fer­til­izer lev­els in real time and of­fer cus­tom­ized rec­om­men­da­tions and no­ti­fi­ca­tions based on the ac­tual con­di­tion of your plant. Not sure what you want to plant? Just put the empty pot in the spot where you plan to keep it for 24 hours and let it mea­sure the amount of sun­light and av­er­age tem­per­a­ture to get rec­om­men­da­tions for what plants might do well there. Note: The Par­rot Pot is cur­rently dis­con­tin­ued on Par­rot's of­fi­cial site, but you can still pur­chase it on Ama­zon while sup­plies last.

Plan Your Plot with Apps

To para­phrase The Lit­tle Mer­maid, there are gad­gets and giz­mos aplenty, but you don't need to spend a lot to have a lush gar­den. If you pre­fer to tend your plants the old-fash­ioned way, the App Store has a great se­lec­tion of apps to help you plan and man­age your plant­ing, many of them free. The free Gar­den Com­pass app makes plant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion a snap, lit­er­ally—just take a photo of an un­known plant, up­load it to the app, and in­stantly get de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about it from gar­den and hor­ti­cul­ture ex­perts. Their data­base also iden­ti­fies com­mon pests and plant dis­eases and of­fers in­for­ma­tion about how to com­bat them.

Plan­ning is just as im­por­tant as plant­ing; some plants co­ex­ist peace­fully, while oth­ers will fight for re­sources if planted too closely. Peren­nial Match ($4.99) helps you choose com­pat­i­ble plants to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful gar­den of peren­ni­als that work well to­gether. The app al­lows you to nar­row your search by sun and water re­quire­ments, har­di­ness, col­ors, and height. View the at­tributes of each plant in­di­vid­u­ally and in com­bi­na­tion with oth­ers to see how they'll work for your unique con­di­tions.

And, of course, there's the grand­daddy of all gar­den­ing bibles—The Old Farmer's Al­manac. Founded in 1792, the same yearly al­manac that your grand­par­ents and maybe even great­grand­par­ents used to help plan their yearly plant­ing is now avail­able in app form. The Old Farmer’s Al­manac Plan­ner ($7.99) app al­lows you to lay out your gar­den with veg­eta­bles, herbs, and fruit, as well as see grow­ing in­for­ma­tion, get plant­ing re­minders, and learn how to ro­tate crops for a suc­cess­ful grow­ing sea­son.

If you're new to grow­ing your own food, check out From Seed to Spoon (free). This app guides you through the en­tire process of se­lect­ing, plant­ing, tend­ing, and har­vest­ing more than 40 dif­fer­ent herbs and veg­eta­bles. The app helps you se­lect com­pan­ion plants that grow well to­gether and also in­cludes in­for­ma­tion about com­mon gar­den pests and how to deal with them or­gan­i­cally.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Gar­den for the Plant

Gar­den­ing, whether flow­ers or veg­eta­bles, has amaz­ing ben­e­fits for the mind and body. In the end, it doesn't mat­ter if you choose to go high tech or old school with your plants; the im­por­tant thing is that you en­joy it!

Gro Water Sen­sor from Scotts Mir­a­cle Gro ($39.99)

Blos­som Smart Wa­ter­ing Controller ($149)

Edyn Gar­den Sen­sor ($99.97)

Par­rot Pot ($54.99)

edn Smal­lGar­den ($199)

Jac­qui Lane fell in love with tech­nol­ogy the first time she laid eyes on a blink­ing DOS cur­sor and has been ex­plor­ing and writ­ing about it pro­fes­sion­ally for more than 12 years. An iPhone ad­dict from its ear­li­est days, she's rarely seen with­out her phone in hand. Her writ­ing has ap­peared on US­ATo­, Sa­lon, The Nest, and other out­lets.

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