Growing plants in a garden might seem like an outdated task if it involves actually picking up a shovel and going outdoors - not checking on your crops through Farmville. But today with new reports being released almost daily about the potential harms of genetically modified crops, the poor nutritional value in refined foods and the cost of everything going up – homegrown vegetables cultivated in one’s own backyard can be beneficial.
I was fortunate enough to purchase my first home this year and am speaking from experience that our modern lives and the use of technology are important in helping those of us who haven’t sprouted a green thumb yet to succeed with gardening.
From apps for your smartphone or tablet, to the availability of the Internet to scour other people’s experiences on blog posts and message boards, to actual gadgets – there are a number of ways to ensure you yield some fresh, homegrown crops this summer.
For .99 cents in iTunes, the Pocket Garden App includes tips, pictures, instructions and advice for growing a plethora of vegetables. In addition, it’s possible to track and recall which seeds you planted in your own garden and update notes on the growth of your plants.
There is also the iGrowIt app for .99 cents in iTunes that makes it possible to check what vegetables to grow based on where you live and at what times in the season to grow vegetables successfully from start to end. Once crops are ripe and picked, the app also offers recipes that make use of your freshly yielded vegetables.
For those of us whose main motivation to growing vegetables in our own garden is cost savings, there are apps like Get Growing that help user’s track how much they are saving by growing their own fruits and vegetables.
The app, available in the iTunes library offers a savings calculator so users can see how much they will save by choosing to grow crops on their own.
And then there are the gadget enthusiasts, always looking for the next quirky electronic to help make this ancient process of growing food from nature’s soil, a more modern, tech –related endeavor.
Perhaps one of the more labor intensive steps in setting up a garden in your backyard, in my recent experience has been breaking and loosening up the dirt where it has hardened and grass has grown and creating a much easier to use soil for plants to grow in. Lawn Aerator Shoes take all the heavy tool usage out of this process. Simply slide them on over your shoes and the long spikes under the tool break and loosen up the dirt beneath you.
Setting up a rain barrel to collect water and use on plants is important for any garden. But in case of a drought, or the inability to collect water in a basin, the use of a Garden Hose Water Usage Meter can help anyone who is looking to conserve water by displaying usage amounts and keeping a log of past usage so no surprise water bills or drained wells occur.
Bitponics, a Brooklyn start-up, has also launched a personal gardening assistant that makes use of the cloud to manage and remind users to care for plants. The technology is an add-on to an existing hydroponic system and incorporates a crowd sourced online database that also sends friendly reminders to users.
Michael Zick Doherty, co-founder and lead hardware engineer of Bitponics said, "Growing hydroponically is more than just about providing free food to your home-it is also about the educational experience that allows us to reconnect with what we eat, empowering us to eat healthy and protect our environment.”
Other functionalities include the ability to adjust plant environments remotely or track nutrients with an additional sensor.
Whether you already have a green thumb but want to improve your gardening results, or if you’ve been buried indoors behind your computer and are ready to make the move outdoors, this summer is a better time than ever to get digging. Your health and your wallet will thank you too.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli