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Technology is changing the way we do nearly everything these days, including the activities we traditionally think of as decidedly non-techy, such as gardening. After all, isn’t the whole point of growing food to tap back into our roots as homesteaders living off the land?
Not so fast.
Tech has its place in the gardening and homestead world. In fact, the right online tools can help home gardeners maximize space, track a garden’s progress or order supplies.
Garden planning and planting apps are a great way to stay organized and help ensure a garden’s success. But it can take a while to filter through the dozens of phone and computer apps available for home gardeners. So this spring, Bangor Metro has done some of the research for you.
If you want help tracking progress
The Gardening Companion
This app helps everyday backyard growers track a garden’s progress and offers everything from articles to YouTube how-tos ranging in topic from companion planting to tips on how to know it’s time to harvest. Users can track their garden’s progress in a gardening journal and upload pictures to compare growth year over year. Available for iPhone, Android and iPad. Cost: Free
Looking to take your garden or home beyond simply supplementing your weekly grocery run this summer? SmartSteader is marketed toward the homesteader who wants to digitally record annual harvest, calculate price per pound, store receipts and compare homestead experiments year over year to find out which methods are most productive. Available for iPhone and Android. Cost: Free for 30 days then $2.99 per month or $29.99 for a year
If you need help planning
Garden Plan Pro
This simple to use tool helps the everyday gardener with layout design, plant arrangement and allows the user to track a garden’s progress. Whether you have acres of traditional rows, use the square foot gardening method or are growing in raised beds on the balcony of an urban apartment, Garden Plan Pro allows users to work with nearly every shape and size of garden. Available for iPad and iPhone. Cost: $9.99
Designed for those growers who are already familiar in a garden but are looking for an easy-to-use planning method, this app helps users plan gardens ranging in size from one square foot up to 4 feet by 8 feet. Once seeds are in the dirt, consider using the journal feature which allows users to record notes about progress. Available for Android. Cost: Free
Having trouble remembering to water? Don’t worry, it happens to the best gardener among us. Plant Alarm is an app that allows users to set a variety of gardening alarms whether it’s a reminder to water or pull in plants that need to stay out of the elements during that unexpected summer thunderstorm. Available for Android. Cost: Free
If you need help deciding what to grow
From Seed to Spoon
After a few years chronicling their attempts to grow food for their family of six, Oklahoma-based homesteaders and bloggers Dale and Carrie Spoonemore created an app for first-time backyard farmers. From Seed to Spoon includes growing guides for more than 70 vegetables, herbs and fruits. Each category can be filtered based on location and health benefit and the app has an overview of companion planting strategies and natural methods for eliminating pests without detracting beneficial insects. Available for iPad and iPhone. Cost: Free
This app provides lists of fruits and vegetables users can search, finding out about how deep and far apart to plant seeds as well as information for each on the required pH level of soil and optimal sunlight. There’s also a handy hardiness indicator for commonly planted crops so if your green thumb is still a work in progress, you can focus on plants more likely to succeed. Once seeds are in the ground, users can add planting dates to the app’s database which will then create a progress bar that updates with how many days are left until harvest. Available for Android. Cost: Free
This app from the Gardener’s Supply Company helps users every step of the way with weekly alerts and how-to tips. Where this app differs from others — it is specifically geared toward raised bed gardens. Users can submit images and take notes on progress and it even has an “Ask a Gardener” option with helpful tips and answers to commonly asked questions from a gardening expert. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Cost: $9.99
This app carries a hefty price tag, but you can try it out for free for seven days. And if you’re serious about your garden this year, it may be worth the cost. GrowVeg helps the everyday gardener determine the best times to plant based on information from more than 5,000 weather stations across the U.S. and Canada. Information related to most common plants is pre-loaded into the tool making it easy to find companion plants, time plantings throughout the season for weekly harvests and if needed, plot and plan drip irrigation lines. Available for PC and Mac, iPhone and iPad. Cost: $29
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s April 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.