Photo by Paul Albertella
This season’s garden gadgetry is nothing short of amazing. Imagine using Bluetooth to monitor your growing conditions while you’re at work, or having a hose that finishes watering on its own and then puts itself away — or one that fits in the palm of your hand! Here is a list of the most up-to-date technology for your garden.
Parrot Flower Power: This Bluetooth gizmo is like a digital baby monitor for your plants. The device monitors all the variables that can affect plant growth — sunlight, soil moisture, temperature, soil nutrient levels and pH balance — and transmits them wirelessly to your mobile device. You can check the results against ideal conditions for thousands of plants in Parrot’s library. The device won two CES awards before it even launched on the market, The Best of CES 2013 Popular Science’s Products Of The Future and the CES 2013 Hot Stuff Award.
RoboReel: Finally someone has built a better hose! The RoboReel is a high-tech hose system that looks a little like R2D2s little brother. An amazing 100 or 150 feet of hosing (depending on which option you choose) retract automatically into the plastic ball-shaped housing at the touch of a button, all without tangling. When you pull the nozzle to begin extending the hose, the RoboReel senses your movement and power-assists you by pushing the hose out for you. Start the flow of water by gently pushing a button, and the hosing rotates 360 degrees on its sturdy, low-slung base to follow you as you water. A programmable timer allows you to leave the unit on for a set period, to fill the pool or water a garden, and the hose will retract itself automatically when the watering is done. Several nozzles are stored inside the unit. The battery is intended to hold a charge for 100 full rewinds before recharging. This is a well-thought out device that will save dedicated gardeners a great deal of effort.
Flex-able Hose: If you only water occasionally, you might not need all the power of the RoboReel. The Flex-able Hose is a small, lightweight hose that expands when filled with water. The hose is packaged with a 7-way spray nozzle and comes in your choice of 25, 50 and 75 foot lengths.The hose weighs less than one pound and will fit in your hand when empty, but expands and stretches when connected to a water source. This gardening necessity is perfect for apartment dwellers, patio gardeners, or anyone with small space and limited watering needs.
Click and Grow: Looking for a garden-related gift for someone with a brown thumb? This battery-operated “electronic smart pot” is fully automatic. The pot includes a water reservoir, plant compartment and battery pack. To grow a plant, you insert a plant “cartridge” that contains the proper seeds, nutrients and software. The cartridge is programmed to give the seeds exactly the right amount of nutrients, water, light and air so your plant grows without any human attention at all (though perhaps you should still talk to it daily). You can reuse the pot to grow as many cartridges as you wish. Choose from 13 different plant cartridges, including flowers, mini tomatoes and herbs.
Android Growing Plants Garden Guide: This is a very simple app––just a quick-reference guide for your smartphone––but it’s free, easy to use, and loaded with useful information. The Guide covers 75 of the most popular plants, including herbs, flowers and vegetables. Full-color photographs help you identify your plants or visualize them in your garden. Once installed, the app holds all the information within your phone, so it doesn’t need internet access to pull up details. The information on each plant is very comprehensive, including common and Latin names, plant care, growing region and varieties.
EasyBloom Plant Sensor: Poke this cute flower-shaped gadget into the soil in your growing area, then into your USB port. The EasyBloom Plant Doctor service (you’ll need a subscription) will read your soil, water and light conditions and recommend the plants best suited for your location. If you already have plants in that location, the Plant Doctor will give you advice on how to improve conditions for them, as well as general advice like adding sand to improve soil drainage.