They say there’s app for anything, and I tend to believe it.
There is one that identifies constellations. Another shops for the best price on brand name toilet paper. Another locates the nearest coffee house. Many useful guides to the world around you, but our favorites are garden-centric: Apps that identify the big tree on the corner or the flower in your neighbor’s garden, how to grow that big tree and what plant pairs nicely with your neighbor’s blooms.
Here is a just a sampling of what’s out there. Most are available for both IOS and Android.
Leafsnap, NatureGate and iPflanzen are all electronic field guides. Snap a plant’s photo with Google Goggles or take a picture of a tree’s leaf against a white background and submit it instantly for analysis. Or click through a list of characteristics (leaf shape, flower color, plant’s height) to make the flower or plant identification.
Garden Lite is a free app that’s great for quick reference. There are about 750 plant species in the app’s database, listed by both common and botanical names, with description, care information and what kind of soil, climate, planting and bloom time. There’s a separate section on pests with about 20 common garden threats, such as aphids, and advice on how to deal with them.
The Master Gardener Pocket Guide is a classroom for your phone. It teaches more than 675 gardening and horticulture terms by quiz, dictionary, & flashcards. The app allows the user to create their own flashcards and glossary, send quizzes to friends and post scores for a global ranking. Users can also access the Gardening news feed.
For those who garden from seed, check out Burpee’s Garden Planner. The free app contains a great database of a wide range of plants that can be grown from seed. In addition to the plant description, users receive updates of when to plant or transplant young growth to larger containers or the ground.
Garden Compass is good for finding essential data, like what season a plant blooms and how much light it needs. The coolest part of the app has a plant or pest identifier. Take a picture of the item you need help with, email it to the Garden Compass team and an expert will answer your question. Because the app tags your location, the expert will tell you additional details based on where you live. The app is free at Apple’s App store.
If you’re schedule oriented, you’ll like Garden Time Planner. Just pick a vegetable, herb or flower to add to your garden and the app tells you if you should start growing your seed indoors or directly in the garden. A checklist tells you what actions to take throughout the year. There are a few videos with planting instructions. And there’s even a weather report. The app is free at Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Apps are a great tool…IF you have a smart phone. If not, there are thousands of websites for gardening, landscaping and horticulture. The challenge is sifting through them to find dependable and accurate information, specific to our region.
There are several terrific sites to help identify native plants. Maryland Native Plants is a good place to start. It identifies the different regions throughout the state and lists categories of plants found in those regions. www.nps.gov/plants/pubs/nativesmd/lists.htm.
The Maryland Plant Society’s web page is chock full of resources, including calendar of events, field trips and a news feed. www.mdflora.org
The Department of Natural Resources’ webpage is a great Maryland resource. It has information on our native plants – and the native environment. It provides links to state-sponsored programs for creating “backyard habitats.” www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/index.asp
For all things organic, check out Mother Earth News. This is a comprehensive website on sustainable living with information on composting, organic gardening and food preservation www.motherearthnews.com
And last but not least, our recently re-designed website. We are continuing to build on it, adding new information weekly. www.greenstreetgardens.com
With so much information at your fingertips, you have a good excuse to stay inside on the hottest of our Dog Days – yet still be legitimately working on your garden. And with the explosion of mobile devices and their ever-increasing capacity to download and store information and images, you’ve got the equivalent of a public library in your pocket, handy while you’re digging in the dirt and wondering what in the heck is that weed and where did it come from?
Now if they could just find a way to truly eliminate the sun’s glare on those little screens…