Enjoy the Outdoors with Technology

You might say gardens are for healthy exercise and visual enjoyment, so what need would a gardener have for technology? Well, for starters, it can help you enjoy and share your garden. My wife and my 85-year-old mother-in-law love to take photos of their gorgeous flowers in all phases, especially when they’re in full bloom. With the latest iPhones, within minutes I can email my best shots to someone, share them on Facebook, or order prints through Google photos or my drugstore. 

A few years ago, I treated myself to a “stealth cam.” You can hang these rugged boxes around a tree or on an outbuilding. It has a digital camera inside and allows you to take timed photos at set intervals and view them as a short video on your computer. This could be interesting, for instance, in making a video of a flower growing from seed to full blossom. It’s also interesting for capturing wildlife with a built-in motion sensor. In this way I’ve “captured” numerous deer, our neighborhood fox, occasional raccoons, possums, and bunnies (but no bear, yet).

Our summers are often very dry, so you need to water new plantings and more delicate plants often. When she had a row of Green Giant Arborvitae planted, my mother-in-law had also installed a soaking hose along the hedgerow. Then she added a timer between the hose and faucet that turns the water on for a few hours each day. A great device for a gardener! But technology can help even further. 

Gardeners could consider a Remote Monitoring Weather Station. Once mounted outside, it transfers all kinds of weather-related information to a small monitor in your house or on your cell phone. It can measure temperature (inside and outside), humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, and rain. Now imagine combining this technology with your watering system! While measuring your local rainfall, the water flow and timing could be adjusted and controlled without you having to do anything. Very useful during a drought!

While searching for a few presents for my gardeners, I found some products like Edyn, a Wi-Fi Garden Sensor that analyzes your ground, and tracks light, humidity, temperature, soil nutrition, and moisture. You can get tailored tips and notifications based on your garden’s state and the weather forecast. It even tells you which plants best match the soil, sunlight, and climate conditions of your area. The product was created and successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter in 2016. (2336 backers pledged $384,000!) I recommend checking out some of these crowdfunding websites like www.kickstarter.com or www.gofundme.com. You might find an interesting new product and can be the first to try it out. 

A wide variety of gardening programs and apps are growing rapidly in number. They can help you with designing landscaping projects, advising you where to grow what, types of materials, layout, and costs for hardscaping such as a stone patio, and so on. You can see how it will look and make adjustments before you start. 

If you find a plant or flower in your yard that you can’t recognize, use an app like PictureThis, a plant identifier that uses the camera in your phone to demystify unknowns for you. PlantSnap is another good identification aid. 

Some apps focus on bird identification. My wife enjoys contributing to birdwatching data through Cornell Lab’s free EBird and uses their Merlin app to identify birds by photo, sound, wingspan, and other characteristics. BirdGenie is another recommended app. 

Spring is almost here! Enjoy the outside and feel free to update me on your experience with technology aids for gardening.

Klaus Fuechsel
About Klaus Fuechsel 18 Articles
Klaus Fuechsel owns the local award-winning computer repair store Dok Klaus. He and his team deal with all kinds of computer issues; data preservation is one of their top priorities. You may contact Dok Klaus via phone 540-428-2376 or visit his website.

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