Getting out in the garden, even a friend’s allotment, can be a great way to de-stress and lose yourself for an afternoon. There’s a great sense of achievement settling down to a meal that involves your own produce, and your own veggies are bound to taste better than the supermarket offerings.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London are world famous and contain more than 30,000 different species of plants. If you’re planning a trip (as 2 million or so visitors do each year) then it makes perfect sense to take an interactive guide with you!
Step in the official Kew Gardens app which functions as both an interactive garden map for visitors and provides information, photos and articles for anyone in the world to enjoy. The map can be tailored to your tastes, displaying nearby interests, structures and significant attractions.
Also included is information regarding Kew’s historic listed structures, planting and the garden’s conservation work. Essential if you’re planning a trip, interesting even if you’re 6,000 miles away.
What if you’ve got the urge to grow something but nowhere to do it? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a service where people could offer up land, expertise and tools and help out? That’ll be Landshare then!
This app provides quick access to Landshare, a service that operates in the UK, Australia and Canada (but bizarrely not the US) which connects those with the urge to grow and those with land. There is also a community discussion board where you can post questions and answer other queries.
The app uses your location in order to locate nearby growers, land up for grabs and friendly gardeners. The UK has a fairly well-established user base, with the Australian and Canadian portals gaining popularity.
Ever wondered how much money you could save from growing your own fruit and veg? Get Growing is an app that can help you do just this and give you a helpful hand while you’re at it.
The app is very much aimed at encouraging people to grow their own food by explaining how growing your own produce is better for your wallet and the environment. Some of the estimated yields may be a little too optimistic, but the app hammers home the point that growing your own is a sure-fire way of saving money and eating healthy.
As well as a “how much can I save?” calculator there’s a guide that will help you decide when to plant and when to harvest, as well as a couple of recipes to help you decide what’s for dinner. I have to add that the UI is spot on, fluid and beautifully illustrated.
Don’t let the screenshot put you off, whilst Pocket Garden is not the nicest app to look at it’s certainly packed with useful information for any curious vegetable grower. This free version (the app is also available for $0.99) is exactly the same as its paid counterpart except for a few fairly unobtrusive adverts.
Instructions for growing veg from seed are given in plain English, including ideal planting depth, spacing, season and of course when to harvest. There is a My Garden section that can help keep track of your hard work, though user reviews on iTunes regard the feature as buggy.
Still, it’s worth the download if you’re in need of a fairly concise veggie growing guide on your iPhone, for free.
Don’t worry, I haven’t lost the plot (pun intended), the official Google Search app contains one feature that any gardener can make use of – Google Goggles. For those of you who have wandered round a garden, park or simply noticed a flower of interest over a hedge – Google Goggles will reveal its identity with a simple picture.
This should work for flowers, leaves and in some cases mystery bugs. A must-have on any iPhone, Google Search is especially useful for identifying plants and flowers.
Due to the fact that plants, flowers and bugs are organic and thus never uniform you may encounter troubles finding exact matches. However, the app does a great job of finding relevant similar images which in my experience are accurate most of the time. If you do encounter difficulties, try a different angle or photographing the leaf not the flower.
Whoever said technology and nature don’t mix? This line-up of freebies will hopefully encourage you to get outside, get growing and save some money. If you’ve never thought of using Goggles to identify that mystery plant before, then now you know. And knowing is half the battle, right?
Have you tried any of the above apps? Any favourites? Any other free offerings to recommend? Add your thoughts in the comments box, below this post.