Gardening is a decidedly low-tech hobby. A trowel, some shears, a good pair of gloves and a little sweat are all you need to produce a backyard full of fresh vegetables and colorful flowers. But while you can grow a perfectly nice garden without any high-tech gadgetry, the smartphone is becoming an increasingly indispensable tool for the green-thumbed set. Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, there are plenty of apps out there to make sure you get the most out of your garden this spring and summer.
Plan it Out
Before you plant your garden, it’s a good idea to plan it out first. The Eden Garden Designer (free) will help you figure out how much space you’ll need in between plants and how to arrange flowering plants so that you can achieve an optimal bloom this summer.
Tips and Hints
For general gardening tips, hints and tricks there’s the Gardening Toolkit ($2.99) on the iPhone and Botanica (free) for Android. Both apps put plenty of informative pictures and tips in the palm of your hand, covering everything from hardiness zones to sowing and harvesting guidelines, while also providing all-important watering reminders. For a more minimalist app, Gardener for Android (free) tracks planting and harvesting times, informing you of an impending summer bounty at a glance.
At $9.99 Botany Buddy is on the expensive side for a mobile app. But its extensive list of more than 2,000 plant species and nearly 10,000 photos can’t be beat. The database is fully searchable by a variety of search terms, enabling you to quickly identify whatever species you happen to stumble upon.
A Forager’s Feast
If you’d rather gather your sustenance than grow it in the backyard, the WildEdibles app (free) is your guide to a foraged feast. The app gives you the lowdown on hundreds of edible plants and fungi, while its detailed photos and descriptions keep you from making a potentially poisonous mistake. The basic version is free, but there are also paid versions that focus specifically on edible fruits, nuts, shrubs and greens. For an app that specializes in foraging for mushrooms, check out Audubon Mushrooms ($9.99), which has an extensive list of the most common species in North America. By allowing you to filter the database through a number of variables, that app enables you to quickly see whether that fungus you spotted is friend or foe.
Troubleshooting Problem Plants
If you maintain a garden, at some point problems will emerge. The Plant Doctor ($1.99) can help you diagnose a problem by walking your through a checklist of symptoms. Whether you’re suffering from pests, root rot or yellowing leaves, this app has got you covered.
While it’s important to guard against insects like aphids and beetles, not all creeping critters will damage your plants. Being able to tell the difference between a harmful species and the beneficial, pollen-spreading kind is key to growing a great garden. The aptly named Bugs and Insects ($0.99) gets right to the point, arming you with plenty of useful information on the variety of insects populating your garden.