It’s that time of year again—still wintertime, but the holidays are over. Just cold, semi-dark days for most of the country. And it happens to be one of your favorite times of the year—if you’re a gardener.
If you don’t have a green thumb, you might not realize that during this time of year a gardener’s mailbox and email are running over with seed catalogs, and glorious, full-color photos of the flowers and veggies to dream of this summer. We’re creeping right on up on planting season, and we’ll bet a bunch of you gardeners have already started some seeds this month.
Even though gardening is literally getting back to nature, today you can use a number of apps and smart tools to make your garden more productive and easier to manage.
Check out our finds:
Smart weather station
Keeping track of freezes, rain, and hot weather is important for any gardener. Home weather stations have gotten more sophisticated in recent years, but Netatmo has taken temperature tracking and a rain gauge to a whole new level. The Netatmo Weather Station ($149 for one station, which includes both indoor and outdoor modules) reports its data to an app on your smartphone, letting you keep a close eye on daily conditions and trends—both indoors and out. Add a rain gauge for $79, and you’ll know your garden conditions at a glance, anytime.
If you use an irrigation system for your lawn or garden, the Rachio irrigation controller ($249.99) connects to your smartphone to customize your garden’s watering schedule according to your local weather. It gives you the ability to control your sprinkler system from anywhere with Android and iOS apps, and you can hook it up to a Netatmo Weather Station (if you have a rain gauge) so that your sprinkler runs on the actual weather in your yard.
Smart garden monitoring
The Edyn garden monitor ($99.97) is a simpler system—just stick the sensor in your garden, and it will report data to the smartphone app—but the company is planning to add a water valve soon to provide integrated irrigation management as well.
Garden planning and info apps
Half the fun of gardening is in the planning, especially in the winter when you may not be able to get outside as much as you’d like. If you’d like to envision your future foliage, check out Garden Plan Pro ($7.99 on iOS for iPad), which lets you lay out your garden plot in advance, including details on thousands of plants and the best environment for each.
If you’re looking to track your planting calendar, try Life, a garden journal app from n.thing (free for iOS) or Plant Diary (free for Android), which both allow you to add plants and set reminders for watering, pruning, and more.
Whether you’re an old-school or connected gardener, happy planting and a fruitful harvest to you!