Plants Get Geeky! 10 Techy Tools and Concepts for Gardeners

plant with gnome photo

Photo via Smath via Flickr CC

In these modern times, even such simple tasks as tending plants now have gadgety help. Some ideas for how technology can help us with our green thumbs are awesome, while others miss the mark. We're taking a look at 10 tools - from apps to devices to concepts - that aim to make communing with flora easier.


ample harvest app image

Image via Ample Harvest
Ample Harvest's app matches gardeners up with neighbors who want a piece of the harvest. So often a bumper crop means more food than you know what do do with, but a handy app can fix that, and feed your friends - or make you new friends.

The LeafView Project uses an electronic field guide to quickly catalog the earth's plants species before they disappear.

Hit and Miss Products and Ideas:

plantr concept photo
Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch Hit: Plantr Plantr is a group research effort aimed at giving used cell phones a second life as "nodes delivering micro level data to a broad research network." The idea is to use them to boost interest and interaction in urban gardens. It's a great pilot project, though we have yet to see what the results yield.

Hit: EasyBloom
This gadget goes in the ground next to a plant you want to monitor. It pulls all sorts of data including soil conditions, lighting, moisture levels and so on. After 24 hours you can plug it in to your computer's USB port, access an analysis of the area, and it will then recommend ideal plants for that part of your garden or diagnose how your plant is thriving in that area, and get recommendations on how to make it happier.

plant air purifier image

Image via Hammacher Schlemmer
Miss: Mechanized House Plants for Extra Purified Air
Using plants to purify air is an idea we love, but we aren't 100% sold on hooking them up to machinery to make them more effective. We've heard that it can make a difference, but whether or not it's worth the embodied energy of yet another piece of plastic and circuitry is questionable.

Miss: Botanicalls
You might struggle with remembering to water your plant, but we don't think hooking it up to a Twitter account will really solve the problem. Seems like a waste of electronics.

Undecided: Sensor for Crops to Text Farmers
This seems potentially promising, especially in areas that experience water shortages. It would allow crops to text farmers when they need watering, which on a large scale could significantly reduce excess water use. However, it's that large scale that's a bit problematic - exactly how many sensors are needed, and how might that affect e-waste as crops are harvested. It's one thing to find a dandelion green in your bag of spinach, and another to find a soggy sensor.

Undecided: Click & Grow System
This takes houseplants to the techy extreme. On the one hand, it seems like overkill just to grow a plant. On the other, it might get more people engaged in growing plants. Overall, we're pretty skeptical that this is a good idea - a pot, a pile of soil, a few seeds and some watering is really all you need. But there are others who may feel that this is the only way they can keep their philodendron alive.

Concept Designs

plant mate concept image
Image via Yanko Design Plant Mate Useful for designing a garden space, this concept solar power device gets plunked into your yard, where it can analyze the area - similar to the Easy Bloom. You can then use the information to create a garden where every plant is put in just the right spot according to its needs and the conditions. It can also provide maintenance data, letting you know when more water or fertilization is needed. Seems like something gardeners would love!

Computer as a Planter
This concept tries to put a little green into the tech, turning a computer case into a planter. It's rife with problems, such as the very notion of having damp soil anywhere near your hard drive, but nonetheless is appealing in that it makes the coldness of a computer a little more approachable.

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