Friday, October 8, 2010

10 Eco-Friendly Garden Apps for the iPhone

I’m probably one of the few people left on the planet who only uses my cellphone for actually making phone calls. I don’t even know how to text on it, or to READ a text if someone sends me one, much less use any of the more complicated functions it has. So I’m amazed when I casually ask a question in a group of people and suddenly thumbs are flying across tiny keyboards searching for an answer. Apparently, there is an “App” for everything.

There seem to be almost an endless number of Apps for gardeners, but it took me a bit of digging (pun intended) to uncover the Apps that were geared for eco-friendly gardening. Here are ten that I thought looked interesting.*

1) Garden Insects, by Natural Gardens LLC - The North Woods Garden Insect Guide features 18 of the most common garden pests that thrive on the hard work you put into your vegetables each year. Wouldn't you like to be able to identify them and learn environmentally friendly ways to discourage and eradicate them from your plantings? This app was designed to do all of that.

2) Compost - "Compost" is a calculator utility designed to help household composters achieve an optimal mix. A well functioning compost decomposes at a good rate and does not smell bad. To achieve the proper environment, experts recommend a Carbon:Nitrogen ratio somewhere around 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. Users input the pounds of food waste and/or grass clippings they have available and then select from dry tree leaves or newspaper as their high-carbon source. "Compost" suggests an appropriate amount of leaves or newspaper to use. This is another one that users say isn’t worth the price.

3) Organic Garden– A comprehensive guide with the most common vegetables, with their botanical names, descriptions, needs of light, water, soil, climate, sowing time, bloom time, cares, diseases, nutritional info, association, enemies, etc.

4) Organic Gardening for Beginners – Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Organic Vegetables – In this easy-to-read guide, you will learn how to garden using no chemicals or outside man made products.

5) GardenID – Once you set your location, you can select from a master list of fruits & vegetables, or you can see what grows best around you. You can even see what’s best to grow now, so you waste waste time or money on plants that are out of season.

6) SoilPH - Many struggling gardeners don't bother learning about their soil. It certainly isn't as much fun as choosing plants. However, if you choose the wrong plants for your soil you might just be throwing money away. Soil pH is one of the easiest factors to measure and account for. Unfortunately, it is often neglected because it sounds difficult and reminds people of their old school chemistry lessons. This app was designed to help you test your soil PH, correct your soil PH and find the correct PH for your plants.

7) Rain Harvest - Have you ever wondered how much rain falls on your roof during a typical rain storm? Use this simple rain harvesting calculator to find out. You will be amazed at how much water can be collected from your roof (or any other surface) during even the shortest of rain storms. Why not collect and store this wonderful natural resource and put it to good use later to water your organic garden?

8) Gardening Toolkit - Not sure what to plant and when to plant it? The Toolkit can you give the advice you need. This feature-packed app also tracks what's in your garden, keeps notes in a handy to-do list and even lets you search a photo-filled encyclopedia of hundreds of plants

9) Vital Almanac – Vital now offers you the complete gardening enthusiast’s almanac for growing your organic fruits and vegetables by using the power of the moon.

10) Florafolio – Native Plants of the North East – The ultimate native plant resource for gardeners and nature enthusiasts. Florafolio 2 is an easy to use, interactive field guide to native plants of North Eastern North America. Florafolio is the perfect guide for anyone who wants to identify species in the wild or garden with native plants. *Keep in mind that I don't have an iPhone, so I'm not personally recommending any of these apps or the AppShopper site. However, I did find that the search function on the AppShopper site was one of the more user friendly ones.

For others without an iPhone, here is an on-line app that I find very cool. It is called the National Tree Benefit Calculator and it was developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co. This tool allows you to input your zipcode and select a tree to find out the various environmental benefits including: stormwater benefits, property value, energy, air quality and CO2.

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