Open Thread: Green Thumb Technology

by Lysa Salsbury

Day One of my summer leave and it’s a gorgeous day here in Moscow, Idaho. I spent all morning doing some long-overdue gardening: tackling my weed-infested flowerbeds, composting the strawberries, planting red salvia at the front of the house, dead-heading the cornflowers, and potting the last of the annuals I bought for a steal at Rite Aid.

I don’t have a naturally green thumb. Any knowledge I’ve gleaned about gardening over the years is courtesy of my wonderful, eternally-patient, and horticulturally-gifted neighbors, Alverna and Sue, and my mother, who excels at absolutely everything. They’ve been my gardening muses, dishing out a steady stream of sage advice on plant purchases, soil conditioning, feeding and fertilizing, pest and disease control, weeding, pruning, dividing, overwintering… you name it. I’m not even close to being in the same league as these ladies, but sometimes, things work out, and my ignorance results in lucky accidents. Other times, I feel I could use a bit of help in trying to keep my plants alive and thriving.

Pro gardeners are, apparently, increasingly relying on gadgety little gizmos to help them take the guesswork (and hopefully, some of the frustration) out of gardening. Here’s a useful device: the  Wireless Weather Projection Station (WPS) measures time, indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, and barometric pressure. Finally, I might actually get my tomato-planting timing right. This year clearly was not my year to get it right, however. I don’t have a WPS, and unbeknownst to me when I was sticking them in the ground yesterday, the Weather Channel is calling for severe thunderstorms this afternoon. Sigh. We’ll see if my little Sungolds and Latahs make it.

The SunCalc would have saved me hours, not to mention dollars, as I struggled to grow things in the flowerbeds in front of our north-facing house. This handy little thingamajig gauges how much sun exposure a particular area gets every day, helping you determine which types of plants are best suited for that space. It runs on a watch battery. Brilliant.

Though it’s still relatively cool in our neck of the woods, and watering hasn’t yet become a complete pain in the fundamentals, I get pretty weary of this daily task when the weather is hot. It consumes way more time and water than I’m comfortable with, but having a professional drip irrigation system installed is way beyond my means. The Solar Irrigation Kit seems like a viable alternative. At least the vegetables would be taken care of, and I’d only have to hand-water the flowers.

What are some of the ways in which technology has helped you to hone your efficiency, skills, and degree of success in pursuing a favorite hobby? Does technology enhance your enjoyment of said hobby? Are there devices out there that help you save time and money?

Open Thread: Green Thumb Technology