Every year, the technological advancements available to the home gardener become more abundant, bringing more users the ability to easily maintain their very own fresh produce aisle. From soil sensors to plug-and-play growing machines, today it’s easier than ever to grow your very own herbs and vegetables.
For those who dislike the outdoors, have limited space, or just prefer to avoid dirt, there are several options to choose from for growing indoors. Using hydroponics, LED grow lights, cameras, and sensors that feed a mobile app, anyone can now have a garden inside their home. These gardens usually feature a plant that comes as a cube or a pod, and a system that allows you to just add water, plug it in, and go about your day.
These indoor units come in countertop, wall-supported, and freestanding models, giving users a good selection regardless of the amount of space they have available. These systems are designed for you to assemble at home and fill with pre-made pods that contain seed, soil, and nutrients for the plants. After inserting the pods, you just add water to the basin, plug in the unit, and wait.
The connected app also allows you to set the light and watering schedule, helps you order more pods, and sends you notifications to keep you updated on the state of your plants. The goal is to take all of the guesswork out of the process for you. They want you to plant and play.
With a premium subscription, you can get a discount on the plant pods, tips about how best to care for your plants, and notifications about when to add water, when to prune, and when to harvest. Now anyone can grow a vegetable or herb garden right on their countertop with no previous experience.
What Can I Grow Indoors?
Just because you don’t have much space or you decide to use technology, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good selection of plants to grow. These programs offer a fairly wide selection of plants to choose from, including flowers, herbs, lettuces and cabbages, peppers and tomatoes, and even mini eggplant and dwarf peas.
If you have space outdoors, there are even more tools to assist you in building the garden of your dreams.
Online planting calendars, which you can customize based on your location, can tell you what to plant and when to plant it. They can show you when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant those seedlings outside, and when to sow seeds directly in the ground. They show you exactly what the growing season is expected to be, how long it should last, and when you should expect to harvest, allowing you to plan your garden well in advance.
In addition to calendars, there’s online software that can help you plan your garden plot. There are many templates available through websites and mobile apps that can help you determine how to make the best use of your planting space. These templates create a map for you to use as a guide. They help you see how much space each plant will need for optimum growth to ensure you don’t overplant your space.
Once you have a planting map and calendar, you then need to know how to maintain your soil, provide enough water, and ensure the right amount of sunlight. Fortunately for those who don’t have the experience, there are technological options available by the truckload.
Soil sensors come in all shapes and sizes, with combinations of various features and a wide range of price points. Soil sensors can give you a read on if your plants are getting enough sunlight, they will show you how moist your soil is, take periodic soil temperature readings, and even monitor the pH level of your soil so you can make sure your plants are getting the nutrients they need.
Most of these sensors will send the data via Bluetooth so you have all the soil information at your fingertips. Armed with in-depth knowledge of your soil, even amateur gardeners can grow very healthy plants.
Now you know how to plant, what and when to plant, and how to become a “soil whisperer.” What else could there possibly be?
You lastly need to decide how much maintenance and upkeep you are willing to undertake. Fortunately, if you don’t want to get down in the dirt, there are ways to offset the time you spend on maintenance.
The Tertill is a solar-paneled weeding robot. Just set this little gizmo loose in your garden and it takes care of any weeds. As long as your plants reach the bottom of the Tertill’s shell, they’ll be spared, as the Tertill’s sensors will make it focus on shorter plants. If you’re still at the seed stage, you can use the barriers that come with the Tertill to protect your seedlings when they sprout.
The Tertill is equipped with wheels that lightly churn the soil as it moves through the garden. This prevents weeds from growing at the germination stage. And, any weeds short enough to fit under the Tertill will be shredded by the mini weed-wacker underneath.
Robotic Lawn Mowers
If the area you’re planning for a garden isn’t yet ready for primetime, you can turn to any one of the many robotic mowers on the market for assistance. These mowers use the same type of technology as robotic vacuum cleaners and work in a similar fashion.
Robotic mowers support multiple types of sensors (touch, balance, etc.), simple decision logic, and geo-fencing to make them very easy to use. They also integrate with applications to give you even more granular control than the default out-of-the-box setup.
Even the lowest end of these robotic mowers can cover about 0.5-acres. So, if you need to clear some space for your soon-to-be garden, these little robots can handle the task in an afternoon. Once the area is cleared, you can set up your raised bed, cover for a no-dig garden, or populate with your favorite containers for planting.
If this all still sounds like too much work in or near the dirt, there is another alternative. If you have the wherewithal for a bit of do-it-yourself installation and you feel robotic assembly is a great way to pass the time, then FarmBot is for you.
FarmBot is a kit you can order and assemble for your raised beds. Available in different sizes and with various features, FarmBot takes care of all but assembling and harvesting. It includes all the hardware needed to monitor and maintain your own low-maintenance garden.
When you get your FarmBot, the first step is to put it together over a raised bed, get the track laid, hook up the power, and make sure the arm is working. You’re then ready to plan your garden. Using the same type of gardening software as we saw in the standalone apps before, you can plan the location of the plants within your garden.
FarmBot software takes spacing into account so you don’t overplant. Just choose your plant and drag and drop in the easy-to-use app. Once you’ve finalized your garden plan and filled FarmBot’s seed containers, FarmBot will use your plan to plant the seeds where you chose.
FarmBot plants, waters, weeds, and monitors the soil in your garden. It also sends you notifications about the status of your garden, and is equipped with a camera to send you photos of both individual plants and your garden as a whole.
Although you get completely customizable control over the order of operations of your FarmBot, the default setup is ready to go right out of the box. FarmBot is also 100% open source. For those that prefer the technological side of gardening, FarmBot was made for you. In fact, once set up, the only thing FarmBot doesn’t do is pick and eat the food for you.
What Will You Grow Today?
So, whether you have a large lawn, a few plants, an urban garden, or just a little counter space, the gardening world is working on technology to meet your needs. All you need to do is decide what you want to grow next.