In theory, growing a garden seems like the easiest thing in the world to do. Just sow some seeds, make sure the seedlings get plenty of water and sunlight, and in a few months (or less) you’ll have a bountiful harvest of fresh produce.
Of course, anyone who has ever grown a garden knows that it’s not really that simple. An infinite number of factors can affect how well your plants grow and how much food they produce, from how much water they get to the average temperature over the summer. Of course, there are always the human factors to consider, such as remembering to water the plants and pulling the weeds. It’s all enough to make most people hit up the market or the farm stand to buy produce, rather than go to all the trouble to growing it.
However, commercially grown produce isn’t guaranteed to always be widely available, and there are legitimate concerns about the safety and sustainability of those products. Not to mention, for those who wish to grow their own food, the climate can present a significant obstacle. Thanks to technology, though, all these obstacles can be overcome.
Bringing Tech Into the Garden
Sensor technology is taking over virtually every aspect of our lives — and gardening is no different. Embedded chips and an internet connection can take a lot of the guesswork out of growing your garden, telling you exactly what’s happening out there and what you need to do, and even keeping pesky critters out of your plants to ensure that you actually have something to harvest.
Gardening technology ranges from simple apps that tell you exactly when to plant specific crops to fully computerized greenhouses that ensure perfect growing conditions at all times, and everything in between.
- A new generation of garden stakes include sensors that will send information about soil, light, and moisture conditions directly to your smartphone, so you know when to water and feed your plants — and whether they are getting enough sunlight or not.
- The idea of timed sprinklers is nothing new, but gardeners now have the option of using sensor-controlled watering systems that monitor real-time weather conditions via the internet as well as soil moisture levels to deliver water when necessary. This prevents both under-watering, as well as the issue of sprinklers or irrigation systems turning on unnecessarily — such as in the middle of a rainstorm.
- Home gardeners have the option of growing plants without soil using consumer-sized hydroponic systems. From smaller models that fit on a sunny countertop, to larger setups that take advantage of vertical space and use either natural or fluorescent lights, the idea of growing larger plants in less space is very appealing to many gardeners.
- Keeping animals out of the garden is a challenge for any farmer, but sensor technology is helping with that as well. Several different systems offer everything from a blast of water to harmless wireless fences that keep deer away, ensuring that your carrots and tomatoes won’t become a feast for woodland creatures.
Getting Started With a High-Tech Garden
The first thing to remember when incorporating technology into your garden is that you don’t want to rely on technology to replace you and the work that goes into a successful crop. Technology is a tool that can help you avoid certain common issues, but it should not replace your own real-world observations and care for your plants. In other words, you’re still going to have to remove the weeds yourself.
That being said, the best way to get started on a technology-enhanced garden is to begin with a sensor system that helps you tackle your biggest weakness. Since the majority of plants fail due to over or under watering, a sensor that helps you determine when and how much water to give your plants is a good starting place.
Or, if you live in an area where the growing season is short, a greenhouse might be a good option to help you expand your options. With a technologically advanced greenhouse, you can experiment with different crops as well, combining the data you collect from sensors with your own observations to create a garden plan that works for your needs.
Few things in life rival the pleasure of growing your own food right in your backyard. Incorporating technology can help that be a more successful endeavor, while also increasing yields and reducing the amount of time and money you spend cultivating your plants.