Trowel, weed fork, iPad – just off to the veg plot…

by , Technology 24 March 2013
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Grow-your-own used to be a low-tech sort of hobby. I’ve managed for years with a notebook and scraps of paper to plan and record my sowings and harvests. But it seems the world of apps has caught up with me.

A tablet computer with some green leaves

A couple of years ago a website appeared, www.growveg.com, which allowed you to draw a plan of your plot and fill it with little veggie icons and follow its virtual progress through the season. You could take a print-out into the garden, so you could reproduce it in the real world. And now there are smartphone and tablet apps aimed at gardeners.

With grow-your-own gaining more followers, even among the iPad generation, we took a look at what apps are available. Most were aimed at American gardeners, but we did find five that were suitable for the UK.

Growing your own virtual veg

Some were little more than alternatives to a good book or a garden diary. The best were interactive, allowing you to create a plan, customised to your locality, and providing prompts about what you should be doing to achieve it. Another advantage of an app over a book is that you can link straight to a website for extra information or even draw up a seed list and order it online.

Personally I’ll stick to my bits of paper, for now. But I can see the advantage of planning a virtual veg plot row by row in winter when you’re warm and comfy indoors. The only danger is that you might forget that you have to actually get out in the cold and wet to ‘boot up’ your real crops.

The whole point of growing your own fruit and veg is to connect to the soil and to where food comes from. Does this simple pleasure really need any help from technology?

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Alasdair McInnes

I’m wondering if Gardening Which is going to contact people like me who volunteered to grow trial varieties of certain vegetables and plants; in my case, Black Russian tomato, La Diva small cucumber and red lettuce. I would have thought you would like to know the results of our labours!

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