The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

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By Brianna Wray
The Times 

Tech Talk: Technology for Growth

Tools that make gardening more manageable


August 8, 2019

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Wifi Garden timer - Wifi accessible garden timers cost more, but can be controlled by smartphone.

Gardening and technology are two words that might not seem to go together, but green thumbs and screen thumbs are not so disparate. There's a tool for every job, whether you're growing on an acre or in a container, it's likely there's an app for that. But apps are only the beginning.

Plant Identification

PictureThis by Glority LLC for iPhone, iPad and Android users is an app that identifies plants by photographs of leaves or flowers. This is handy in springtime, especially for planning what plants to add to your garden. Another option is PlantSnap by PlantSnap, Inc. for Android, iPhone and iPad which allows ten free plant identifications per day before requiring an upgrade to premium status.

Garden planning

Vegetable Garden Planner by From Seed to Spoon, LLC for iPhone, iPad and Android is tailored to growing food with customized planting dates based on location and reminders. Users can search and select plants based on health benefits, or which garden insects they would attract, or pests they would deter. As the developer's name suggests, users are ushered from seed to spoon with in-app seed sales built right in.

Ideal planting periods are broken down by season with easy to read statistical information on each plant; their frost tolerance, garden area or container size, time to harvest, sun requirements, watering and fertilizing, and then seed saving for the next year.

Cataloguing and Watering Reminders

Developers from Seed to Spoon are working on a new app called Garden + for plant tracking, harvest estimates, and an archive. In the meantime, apps like Gardenia by Fabio Prati for Android, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch have made an attempt. It catalogues saved plants, schedules garden tasks and provides garden-oriented weather updates based on your location, but is new and buggy.

Watering Timers

Besides apps, hands-on technology can have a role in making gardens manageable in real time. Watering, one of gardening's enduring tasks, doesn't have to be a workout with new, lightweight flexible hoses.

And with an electronic watering system in place, and linked soaker hoses on timers, a gardener may only need to lift those hoses once per season. Some of the newer timers on the market are Wi-fi accessible.

Nancy's Dream Garden Center has Gilmour timers available. Owner Doug Biolo uses technology in theoretical and practical ways to extend the growing season into the hot, summer months and keep plants healthy. Cool season crops, like lettuce and spinach, need protection from harsh sunlight.

"I recommend a white shade cover since white deflects heat, whereas black absorbs," Biolo said.

Biolo has implemented watering and ventilation systems that, on 90+ degree day, keep the greenhouse at a balmy 78 degrees.

Regular planters dry out faster than garden beds. To reduce watering chores, use self-watering planters or planter inserts that keep water in a reservoir below the roots released intermittently using a flow control valve.

Moisture, light & ph metering

It can be hard to tell which soil amendments are necessary until the plants start showing symptoms of illness. But careful monitoring of the soil's ph levels, can make all the difference in preventing the declining health of the plant at all. This same tool, available at Nancy's, is solar powered and assesses moisture at the root level which is not always apparent from above the soil.

Garden Troubles

Even without specialized tech, we may already have the best garden tool in our pockets, smart phones provide weather tips which will affect they day's watering schedule and more.

"To find out what's wrong with a plant, I Google the symptoms for quick research," shares Biolo. "Cordless technology is priceless in the garden."


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