Garden apps dig deeper for experts, novices
While most gardeners prefer to leave their smart phones and iPads inside when working in the garden, your phone and tablet can, in fact, be a valuable gardening tool. Smart phones and tablets have a plethora of apps (short for applications) tailored to gardening. A quick search will yield many apps related to gardening. Some cost a few dollars and others are free. Here are a few of my favorites.
Garden Buddy: This is a handy little tool available on iTunes does “garden math.” It helps estimate things like how many cubic yards of mulch you need, what size pond pump to purchase, how much lawn fertilizer you'll need, and how many plants should you get to fill a certain space. A similar app for Androids called Landscape and Garden Calculators also measures for bricks, blocks and pavers.
Botany Buddy: A terrific iPad-only app for identifying trees and shrubs, Botany Buddy lists more than 2,000 plant species and hosts nearly 10,000 images. It's also a perfect way to search for the right plant for a particular site in your own landscape. A collaborative effort between professional gardeners and landscape designers, this app is a personal favorite for its advanced search features and extensive photo library.
FlowerPedia: With more than 1,300 images of flowers from around the world, this app is great for helping you identify flowers by answering some questions (leaf structure, petal number, etc). It also enables you to share the location of flowers you found with others and to access unusual plant sites located by others — both at home and abroad. FlowerPedia for iPhones and iPads has growing information about each plant as well.
Gardening Toolkit: Great for both organizing your garden and learning some new how-to techniques, this iTunes app is probably the most versatile I have found. It allows you to add pictures, track harvest times and sowing dates, search its extensive database of plants for the “perfect” one, look through a garden glossary, track your watering, and follow month-by-month gardening advice for your hardiness zone plus much more — great for vegetable and ornamental gardeners. A similar app for Androids is Essential Garden Guide and Blackberry users will like Burpee Home Garden Coach.
Audubon Insects and Spiders: Hosting images, identifying features and descriptions, this app is all about bugs. With over 500 common insects featured, it's useful for learning about the critters you come across in your garden. Enter a few identifying features and scroll through the resulting images to discover what's bugging you. You can even keep a history of all the insects you've found. It is available on both Google Play and in iTunes.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.