Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cool Garden Apps by Sheilia Canada

Spring is settling in here in the Denver-Metro area. I know that I am encountering a lot of clients that are trying a vegetable garden for the very first time. This can be challenging for us as Master Gardeners because we generally have so much information we can share that the clients eyes will begin to glaze over after about 10 minutes into the conversation. I think some of the first and best advice we can give a newbie-gardener client is reference material!

There is a plethora of gardening books we could suggest. I know my personal library is huge and I am always adding new books that I get a great deal of from Amazon. (As I think about what is currently on my way-too-long “Wish List”) Again, we could list off an intimidating list of gardening for dummies books for the intrepid wanna-be gardener.

Technology to the rescue...

There are several wonderful apps that are great & easy to use reference tools for the new or practiced gardener right on their i-phone, I-pad or android enabled devices. These programs are especially easy to share with the influx of young urban dwellers that are craving that locavore essence to include their own food or gardening resource.

Urban Gardening (Free)
iOS: Android:
Get the latest news and tips from blogs designed specifically for balcony botanists.

“Hmm... I wonder what direction my house faces and how that is going to affect my plant choices?”
Sun Surveyor Lite ($0.99)
Sun Surveyor Lite predicts and visualizes Sun, Sunrise and Sunset positions and times with a 3D Compass! Use the interactive controls to visualize and plan for the "golden hour". Visualize the Sun throughout the day or through the year. Sun shadow ratio and projection, visualize the shadows cast from the Sun.

Staying in the Celestial realms, the Moon Gardening app ($1.99)
For those wishing to delve further into Lunar gardening. It offers tips for beginning and experienced gardeners using parameters such as moonrise, moonset, sunset, and sunrise times for your location. It also includes lunar zodiac signs; ecliptic longitude and latitude; moon distance from the Earth; solar time and more.

Compost Calculator ($1.99)
Choose from 25 different compost materials to find out how much you need of each to attain the optimum carbon-nitrogen ratio.

A great one for managing our drought issues, Sprinkler Times ($5.99)
This app combines regionally based, historical climate information with industry-regulated soil and plant data to determine the most water-efficient settings for automatic sprinklere systems. Just enter your zip code, type of plants you intend on watering (lawn or flowers, for example), sprinkler set-up, soil conditions, and whether the area is in sun or shade. The app will calculate how much you should water year-round.

Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener (Free)
Takes the guesswork out of attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, bats, and other pollinators to your garden. Enter your zip code, and the app lists more than 1000 perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs and vines for your area that lure in pollinators. You can filter by the type of pollinator desired, flower color, and soil and sunlight requirements.

Landscapers Companion ($4.99)
This database includes about 25,000 plants in 17 categories ranging from bulbs to ferns. It has a really smart search engine that can figure out that courgette, zuchinni, and summer squash are the same vegetable. It lets you browse by sun exposure, USDA zone, water requirements, color, bloom time, deer resistance, and plant height and width.

How to Can (Free)
From the wonderful folks at mother Earth News comes this app that helps you learn everything you ever wanted to know about canning many fruits and vegetables.

iPlant ($1.99)
Find culinary and medicinal information for more than 300 types of plants. The app also provides common usages of each botanical and unlike similar apps, includes harmful plants like poison ivy.

For a little bit of peace... Zen Garden ($2.99)
Transform your phone or tablet screen into a bed of sand that you can make into a zen garden with a virtual rake, stick or finger. Turn on the soothing music, wave sounds, or chirping birds for a surprisingly relaxing experience.

There are a lot of apps for us garden geeks, be sure to check out the ones I have listed and check out the app stores for even more.