Who else is thinking about gardening this spring? Along with our own Liz and Kristen who recently hosted the We Time Project and took a food gardening course (yay!), it seems like everyone is ready to put down the sourdough starter and get their hands really dirty. And now that we’ve finally broken 50 degrees up here in New England, my mind is already thinking about what I want to plant in my part of the world.
While I think that sinking my fingers into dark loamy soil or de-heading basil is about as low-tech as it can get, I’ve found three nicely designed and helpful gardening apps, each with a slightly different focus, that can help you track of everything you hope to accomplish over the next nine months while the growing is good.
Best gardening app for growing food: From Seed to Spoon
If you want to try growing edible veggies, herbs, and fruits, From Seed to Spoon is a super easy to use and free(!) app that will help you get from the very first stages of planning which plants to grow, to the dinner plate on your table. (also shown at top of page)
Started by two working parents with an interest in backyard gardening, this app includes individual plant guides for about 80 fruits, herbs, and vegetables. You may not find the most obscure, exotic edibles listed here, but they’ve covered an awful lot of the most popular ones.
Their individual guides are so helpful for this early planning stage as they tell me how much space the zucchini plant needs (hint: a lot), if I should start broccoli indoors (yes), and what size container do I need to grow spinach on my front steps (7 gal). The app also adjusts to your own growing region to tell you the best time period to start seeds indoors and/or plant outside which is super important since if I started planting when CMP’s more southernly Kate starts planting, all my little seedlings will be frozen in that first freak April snow storm we are bound to get.
If you want to grow plants for specific health benefits, like cancer-fighting or energy-giving, there’s information to help you put together a garden for that. And they even have lists of plants grouped by “Friends and Enemies” so that you’ll know if you should plant your basil near your tomatoes (yes) or parsley near your carrots (no). Even in the plant world, there can be bad neighbors.
I love that you don’t get pop up ads all over the bright, clean interface. While they do have plans to expand to a premium (paid) app called Garden +, right now they make money from the commission on some Amazon products you can buy directly through the app.
And, as a mom of three, I especially love that these parents even include recipes they’ve tested with their own four kids, because—believe me—if you do end up growing zucchini, you’re going to need a lot of recipes.
Best gardening app for keeping track of your houseplants’ needs: Vera
Though I don’t have a ton of houseplants outside of my many succulents, and some edible herbs, I still need help remembering to water and care for them. Because right now the “oh no, why are they wilted?” method is not really working out for them or for me. That’s why I have enlisted the help of Vera, a totally free app created by the online garden center Bloomscape.
Vera is, at its essence, a reminder app that lets you know when it’s time to water, fertilize, or mist your houseplants by sending you notifications when the time is right. Simply add each plant to your customized list, using the supplied photo or one of your own, and you can stop wondering “when did I water those plants last?” I especially love the slot for “name” of the plant—I suspect they want me to call my basil and succulents by their common names, but I’ve decided to call them things like “Someday Pesto” and “Squishy Plastic”. I’m sorry botanists.
If you are into really exotic or rare houseplants that Vera does not have in its large list of plants, you can manually upload those as well so that they can be tracked. In addition, Vera provides lots of useful tips and trouble shooting explanations in their “library” of information. Or send a question to Plant Mom and the Grow-How Team, including photos and they’ll do their best to get you the info you need to turn your thumb green again.
Best gardening app when you just really need some advice: Garden Answers
When we moved into our house 20 years ago, there were already a lot of plants throughout the yard that I had to be prepared to take care of right from the start. I wish I had access to an app like Garden Answers that helps ID plants with a simple photo. Beyond identifying plants, it also provides care instructions and advice for each plant to make it easier to make sure that what is here today is still here tomorrow. You can even do a keyword search for answers to common questions on anything from “aphids” to “moss” to “hosta”, and benefit from their database of over 200,000 answers.
Have a really specific question that you don’t want to call the landscaper about or have to drive to the nursery to ask? For only $2, Garden Answers’ “Ask a Horticulturalist” feature allows you to ask an expert about your lawn or garden or houseplant. And you’ll have an answer in under 24 hours! That’s so much better than doom scrolling for hours to figure out what’s going wrong in your garden.
All the above apps are available for both iOS and Google Play. Want to learn more about food gardening? Check out the recent Food Gardening course that Kristen and Liz took for free, as part of The We Time Project! You can still join in!