Innovation is on a seemingly unstoppable wave of new ideas to help gardeners save time, and help plants thrive and produce higher crop yields. We’ve found some of our favorite tools, mobile apps, and devices. Read on for some of the best in high-tech solutions!
1. Smart Irrigation Systems and Plant Monitoring Devices: Many people use these for their lawns, but the tech is now effective in gardens and can detect the perfect moisture level for hundreds of species of plants. These systems use remote sensors and local weather data to optimize watering schedules. By delivering the correct amount of water to your plants, it can help conserve and save on water while also ensuring plants are not over or under-watered. Check our pick, the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller Check out the devices that also monitor humidity, soil conditions, and even indications of invasive insects and diseases.
2. Garden Planning Apps: Just like working with an architect for your home layout, garden planning is just as important. There are several apps that can help gardeners plan their gardens efficiently - taking into account space, climate, shade, and types of plants. They provide information about the best planting times, plant varieties, and garden layouts. Some apps even use augmented reality to visualize how plants will look in your garden (our favorite option). Our favorite mobile garden app is Garden Pro Plan, but check out the others here. They each have specific features and you can overlap solutions to get the best outcome!
3. Soil Testing Kits: Your soil health is one of the most important features of a thriving garden. Soil testing kits allow gardeners to assess soil for pH levels, nutrient content, and overall composition. This information is key for selecting the right plants. You will also want to see number 5 below about composting. Our favorite test kit? MySoil Test Kit. But check out the others here on Bob Villa.
4. LED Grow Lights: If you're using a greenhouse or sprouting your seeds indoors, LEDs are key to kicking off your growing cycles. LEDs provide the specific wavelengths of light needed for plant growth - especially during early growth. They are energy-efficient and can be tuned to different light spectrums for various stages of plant growth. There are also apps to control spectrums, timers, and other effects. Check out Spectrum Greenhouse LEDs and our mobile app fave, Grow Light Meter.
5. Composting Technologies: Composting is essential not only for your soil and plants, but it's the best way to recycle food and scraps from your kitchen. Composting solutions are as simple as vented boxes to innovativatioins like compost tumblers or electric composters which speed up the composting process and make it more convenient. Compositing will help the soil's fungi and build a much richer, healthier soil environment for all your plants! You can use everything from banana peels, to egg shells, and coffee grounds. The EPA has a great resource site on compositing and answers most questions you may have.
6. Air Drones: Recent drones technology has made remote monitoring effective and very affordable. Most drones are equipped with cameras and various sensors which can provide aerial views of your garden. This can be especially useful for large gardens or farms to monitor plant health, irrigation systems, pollination, and pest infestations. Now, when it's chilly outside, just pour yourself a coffee or tea, open your app and inspect your crops from inside! Check out this guide to using drone for monitoring here.
7. Beneficial Species: Okay, here's where we get to mention our favorite part of gardening - pollinators! 1/3 of your crops and plants need some form of pollination at some point, honeybees and solitary bees are great for this. We also recommend using Bumblebees for large greenhouse projects (they are the only bee species that do well indoors). Also, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, flies, and moths are all great pollinators. For pest control, consider buying and deploying Lace Wings, Lady Bugs, Praying Mantis, and Katydids. If you maintain a healthy biodiverse garden, you won't need all types of artificial and harmful insecticides and herbicides. Remember, diseases and insects are symptoms of an unbalanced environment. Let nature take care of putting it back in balance. :)
8. Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Platforms: Most of Arkearth's projects include community gardens and for those interested in communal gardening, online platforms connect gardeners in the same locality. These platforms facilitate sharing of resources, knowledge, and even surplus produce. Check with your local school, government, church, or Facebook group on how to get involved, contribute, volunteer, and help grow your own locally produced foods!
9. Vertical and Hydroponic Farming Systems: Half of your lettuce and greens you buy at the grocery are now coming from indoor hydroponic farms. These are ideal for smaller, limited spaces, where you can manage a garden in small apartment or garage. Vertical gardening utilizes vertical space, and hydroponic systems allow plants to grow without soil, using nutrient-rich water solutions.
By incorporating these technologies, gardeners can enhance their gardening experience, increase productivity, and contribute to sustainable practices. Check out our store for some other resources, help us launch more Pollination Accelerators, and happy gardening! :-D