Most of us now all have smartphone, most likely an iPhone or Samsung or other Android phone. And probably it’s filled with apps of every kind.
But did you know that you already have some built-in apps on your phone that you can use to have more garden success?
Here are 7 useful apps you already have on your phone.
You’ll either have the built-in weather app that came with your phone or maybe you downloaded an app or even bought one that has more features.
Either way the weather app is going to be your go-to app for keeping on top of the weather.
You can use it to know when the temperature will dip below freezing and you’ll have a light frost. That then may mean you need to protect some plants that you planted out already or still have in the ground at the end of the growing season. For tips on how to protect your plants, check out my article on how to use row covers.
The other handy thing about the weather forecast is rain. If you hand water, you’ll know when you can take a break from it. It’s also useful if you’re going on vacation and don’t want to bother anyone to water your garden while you’re away. Or conversely if you’re going to have a very hot, dry spell, that may mean watering your containers twice a day.
I often used it to see if I can turn off my automatic sprinkler system and not have to water if rain is forecasted. But now I don’t have to use it anymore as my new sprinkler timer is connected to my wifi and knows from the local weather forecast if it will rain within 24 hours and will actually turn the timer off temporarily. If you’d like that convenience check out the one I have which is the Orbit 57946 B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor 6-Station WiFi Sprinkler System Controller on Amazon.
Now a caution: not all regions benefit from predictable weather. You may for instance see that it will rain this coming week but then it doesn’t and you need to water. Or the forecast may say it will stay above freezing but then the temperature dips below and perhaps affects some of your plants because you didn’t protect them. So take all forecasts with a grain of salt, especially the 7-day ones.
Most modern phones now are able to measure using their built-in camera. While the accuracy isn’t as good as a measuring tape or a ruler if you need precise measurements, it’s good enough for estimates.
Maybe you want to check to see if a new raised bed will fit into a particular spot with enough room around it. You could measure and see how much space you have.
Or maybe you need to buy a planter that fits in a tight spot. Use your measuring app at home to measure the space and then again at the nursery or garden centre to make sure the planter you want to buy will fit.
You can also use it to measure volume to purchase soil.
And you’ll likely find more uses for it, anywhere where you would have used a measuring tape for rough measurements.
Search bar/Voice Assistant
Most phones allow you to bring up a search bar. And most now also have a voice assistant such as Siri on iPhones.
In the search bar you can type in anything and get results, either from a webpage or notes you already have on the phone.
The voice assistant is handy when you’re hands are dirty or wet or you’re using both hands. You can ask almost any question and get an answer or a list of websites to read for further info.
I also use the search bar or voice assistant for converting measurements such as temperature, length, volume, etc. And it can be used for simple math too. Usually whatever you can type into a Google search works in the search bar or with your voice assistant. For more info on what else you can use a search for that’s gardening related, check out my article on how to use Google search.
If you’re like me, if I don’t write it down, I’ll likely forget it!
Here are some ideas of what you can keep notes on:
- Shopping lists
- To do lists – even if you use a To do list or scheduling app on your phone, sometimes just jotting down quick notes is easier until you have time to move them to the right app
- Planting records – for seeds or transplants so you know when they went in
- What to ask for help with online (such as in our Healthy Fresh Homegrown Facebook Group or in Seed to Table if you’re a member) or at your local nursery or garden centre
- Project notes such as measurements (see above) and other notes
Voice memo app
If your hands are really dirty or wet or you need both hands to do something but also make notes, the Notes app isn’t going to work well for you.
Instead try the voice memo app. You can usually activate it with the built-in voice assistant in your phone if your hands are dirty or you can launch it and hit record before you do a task that requires both of your hands.
Most phones now have enough storage space so you can talk for quite some time before it fills up.
Then once you’re done if you need to, you can transcribe what you said if you need to keep the information written down somewhere.
Modern smartphones now have great cameras, almost rivalling DLSRs in their quality.
Taking photos and videos in your garden can be useful in many ways.
Perhaps you need to identify what a particular plant is. Take a photo and then go to your local nursery or garden centre and ask them. Or you can find Facebook groups that exist primarily to identify plants. Keep in mind though that determining if a plant is edible or not, can be a bit risky, especially if it’s a mushroom.
Or you have some kind of problem, maybe an insect pest or disease on your plants that you need some advice on. Again you can take that to your local plant experts or post it online. If you wish you can post it on the Healthy Fresh Homegrown Facebook Group if you’re a member and ask there. Or if you’re a Seed to Table member, post it in our community forums and either I or one of the other members will help you.
And maybe you just want to share. Either on social media, with friends over email or post on YouTube to inspire others to also grow food at home. And we love photos over in our Healthy Fresh Homegrown Facebook Group, so if you haven’t signed up yet, join and then share your photos. We’d love to see them!
Finally you can use the app on your phone, that makes it a phone!
As I mention in my article on garden safety, if you’re working outdoors by yourself and using powered tools of any kind, working on a ladder or cutting heavy limbs off a tree, the potential for an serious accident is there. Having your phone on you is a safety measure so that if you do injure yourself and need to call emergency services, you’ll be able to.
Most phones now also have an emergency call feature, so if you have a hard fall and don’t respond to your phone in time, it will call emergency services for you.
And if you get hungry, you could also call for pizza!
So your phone actually comes with apps that are very useful on their own for helping you in the garden.
And if you want to see me go through these 7 apps on my iPhone, check out the companion video on the Healthy Fresh Homegrown YouTube channel:
Now there are specific apps that have been developed especially for gardeners, such as design and planning apps. I’ll do a review of those sometime.
Do you have any favourites? Leave a comment and share what you’ve found useful for your gardening.
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC