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ipad gardening appGrowVeg.com, a subscription based online garden planning tool, has recently launched an iPad app based on the service. It costs $9.99 (no subscription) during the introductory period. It’s possibly the best tool I’ve found yet for planning your vegetable plot or allotment, with a fantastic advanced feature set such as square foot gardening and space requirements for individual varieties.

I must admit I’ve been searching for a decent vegetable plot planner for a while – I did a round up last year 3 iPad Apps For Growing a Vegetable Garden 3 iPad Apps For Growing a Vegetable Garden As a gardener, I wanted to explore some iPad apps for growing vegetables and the self-sufficient lifestyle I strive for. Specifically, I wanted something that would help me figure out exactly what I could grow,... Read More and only one of the apps actually lets you map out plots, while the others were just glorified grow guides. Having recently acquired an allotment of 125 square meters, the need to actually have some kind of system to manage it all and the release of this app has worked out nicely. We don’t normally review premium apps here at MakeUseOf, but in this case there are very few alternatives at all 5 Free Gardening Apps For Green Fingered Geeks [iOS] 5 Free Gardening Apps For Green Fingered Geeks [iOS] Summer is upon us (in the northern hemisphere, at least) and that means barbecues, getting out in the garden, mowing the lawn and tending to your window boxes. Even if you’re not interested in a... Read More – and I feel this is an app definitely worth paying for. Click here to view it on the app store.

Core Functionality

Garden Plan Pro allows you to define your growing areas to scale, then plan out what you wish to grow there. Each plant includes seasonal growth info that’s nicely plotted on an easy to understand graphical planting calendar, as well as indicating spacing and area requirements. Let’s look in detail at some of the features that make this iPad gardening app so unique though.

ipad gardening app

Laying Out Your Plot

This app has by far the most powerful layout options I’ve found yet. While other apps limit you to simple rectangles, Garden Plan Pro lets you define custom shapes, rotate them, and even create curves.

best ipad gardening app

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On the downside, things can be a bit fiddly once you start rotating them, which is something they need to refine. Once rotated, it’s nearly impossible to move the shape, and resizing by dragging the corners still functions as if it weren’t rotated. It’s disconcerting, and sometimes you may resort to just deleting the shape and trying again.

It’s not impossible though, and bear in mind you only need to define the basic shapes once, as any subsequent years are copied over. It’s currently limited to geometric shapes (and colors), straight lines and curves – but typical garden objects etc. are promised for the future.

Crop Rotation

Having made a complete garden and planting plan for a year – what happens the next? In Garden Plan Pro, the garden shape will all be saved for next year – though of course you can still edit it if you make changes from one year to the next. Even more useful is that when adding plants for the next years plan, areas of your garden will be shaded to show where those plants were placed last year, thereby encouraging you to rotate crops. The app apparently remembers 5 years, with older years shaded lighter each year. A minor feature perhaps, but one that gardeners with large allotment plots will really appreciate I think.

best ipad gardening app

You can also edit plans by month if you wish, ready for you to add something else for quick successional planting. There is also an option to split the growing into two entirely separate plans if you have a long growing period, which really shows how much thought the designers have putting into making this a Pro level app.

best ipad gardening app

Another unique feature is the inclusion of a square foot gardening mode, whereby instead of laying out rows and entire beds of a specific variety, you interplant things into 1 foot areas – supposedly resulting in greater overall yields in more useful small batches. Helpfully, a small number in the box indicates exactly how many of that particular item you should fit into a single square foot, as well as allowing for larger items such as courgettes that need more than a single square foot to grow in.

gardening app for ipad

Plant Selection

A good amount of plants are included in the database, from both generic varieties to specifics; covering both vegetables, fruiting trees, and herbal/medicinal flowers. Compare this to the SmartGardener online plot planner, which limits the seed selection to specific seeds from affiliated companies – all of whom are American with no generic types for us Brits to use.

The varieties included with Garden Plan Pro are also American based I believe, but with both generic types and the ability to add custom varieties (including the planting schedule and spacing requirements), it’s not a bother at all. In fact, adding custom varieties alone will make this a godsend for organic and heritage growers who tend to save and share seeds that simply aren’t grown commercially.

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Bugs

This the first release, but there seems to be some glaring bugs. Firstly, it’s impossible to delete plans created in error. You can edit individual plots on the plans easily, but you can’t actually delete the entire garden to start again.

gardening app for ipad

The planting calendar also displayed an obvious bug for me whereby the label was moved forward 7 months – so although the graphical planting guide was correct, it said I was currently in July. This doesn’t affect functionality as far as I can tell – if you assume the blue line is the current date, the planting guide will still be accurate.

ipad gardening app

The date selections also seem to be a bit peculiar. Pressing the minus button will set it to 2201 or something ridiculous.

Worth It?

Despite it’s buggy release lacking such basics as deleting gardens, Garden Plan Pro really still shines as the best garden planner for the iPad, period. It has by far the most advanced feature set (online sites included), catering for both casual gardeners who want a little structure, and serious allotmenteers who want fine grained control over the growing season plan.  can forgive it’s shortcomings in knowing that these will be dealt with in time, and I can offer nothing but a 5-star heartfelt recommendation for this iPad gardening app.

iTunes Store: Garden Plan Pro – $9.99 introductory price, normally $19.99

I’ll try to answer any app specific questions in the comments if you like, or feel free to give us your own quick review if you’ve purchased it. What features do you feel are missing still?

  1. Ram krishnan
    May 3, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Any apps that allow you to enter a garden's dimensions using a photo?
    thanks
    Ram

  2. Sam Hunting
    February 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    That looks pretty nifty. Is it usefuli for Permaculture-type gardeners?

  3. Jeremy Dore
    February 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the review James - you've put together a great guide to the app!  You'll be pleased to hear that we have already fixed the bugs you mentioned in the latest version (1.0.3).  We have several more updates coming in the next few weeks including new features and fixes as we respond to all user feedback. The app uses weather station data and separate plant databases for the US & Canada, UK & Western Europe etc.  It also works in the Southern Hemisphere including South Africa, Australia and NZ, although in sub-tropical climates you may need to enter your own planting dates (we hope to include better handling of hot climates in the future). -Jeremy (from GrowVeg.com, producers of Garden Plan Pro)

    • James Bruce
      February 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks for the update Jeremy, I think that'll put a lot of users at ease about buying it. 

  4. Morton Robyn
    January 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I have had a subscription to GrowVeg for years (absolutely love the program), and have been anxiously awaiting an iPad version.  Do you know if this app will be able to access our existing accounts, or will we be functionally starting from scratch?  Either way, I'll probably still take it, but I would love to be able to get my pre-existing dream plans on it....

    • James Bruce
      January 24, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Hmm. The website says "Users of the desktop version can synchronize their plans with Garden Plan Pro" but I'm afraid I can't personally test that. It may be one way only, for instance. Perhaps I ought to look into getting a subscription too. 

    • Jeremy Dore
      February 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Morton - the next update to the app (1.0.4) will extend the basic syncronisation between the online version and the app so that it's two way and intelligently asks which way to synchronise if it finds changes at both sides.

  5. Bob Poindexter
    January 23, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Thanks for the review. Would it be appropriate for Australia/Southern hemisphere locations? These things usually are very northern hmisphere/US -centric.

    • James Bruce
      January 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

      I believe it does support southern hemisphere yes. The bug I saw in the calendar was basically it showing me the southern hemisphere timings instead of UK. It detects your location and adjusts by that. Is there anything other than timings that might differ? It makes a good guess at frost dates from your location, so that should be ok too. 

      The latest update fixed that bug, by the way, as well some location bugs with incorrect location detection. 

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