These free mobile apps help your garden grow and flourish

BY Claire Yezbak Fadden

My husband, Nick, is gearing up for his favorite backyard activity – growing tomatoes, zucchini and pretty much every variety of pepper. He’s always on the lookout for tips and ideas to increase his bounty. This spring, I suggested he turn to technology to aid his quest.

There are dozens of useful cell phone apps substituting as personal gardening mentors. These pocket-sized “garden tools” overflow with information, like easy ways to identify weeds, to help monitor weather, including rainfall, and advice on the best plant choices for the San Diego area. A few apps even offer a place to share your success. The following three caught my attention.

Homegrown, an app from Bonnie Plants, is essential for both
beginning gardeners and seasoned horticulturists. Click on the Learn to Grow tab to access a series of guides that provide the basics for success. Keep a garden journal by listing your plants, dates that they were planted, and keep tabs on how they’re doing. With Homegrown, you can set notifications so you never forget an important garden task and create a visual history of everything you grow. Browse information on more than 250 veggies and herbs, then create a personalized list. Quickly and easily share triumphs, challenges and lessons learned with friends and family on social media channels. Go nearly hands-free in the garden with the dictation feature. Download the app at bonnieplants.com.

The University of Missouri Extension’s ID Weeds app, updated this spring, identifies more than 400 plant species that could be encountered as weeds in crop fields, pastures, lawns, gardens or aquatic
areas, according to Kevin Bradley, Ph.D., MU Extension weed specialist. “Proper identification of weeds is important so that you choose an
appropriate and cost-effective method of control,” adds Dr. Bradley, also an Associate Professor of Plant Sciences in the MU College of
Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Narrow the list of suspicious plants with a series of drop-down boxes to select various plant characteristics. Click on Identify to produce a list of weeds that match those characteristics. The more characteristics specified, the shorter the list. Selecting a weed brings up detailed information and one or more photographs. For more information, visit weedscience.missouri.edu. Download the free app on the App Store and Google Play.

Access some 150 years of lawn-care expertise at My Lawn from Scotts. This app offers step-by-step guidance on how to create a customized lawn care plan, including personalized feeding, watering and seeding activities for an entire year. Measure your lawn using your
mobile phone and set geographic-oriented reminders to alert you when to apply the lawn food and pesticide. Utilize the seasonally relevant lawn tips and rate your lawn based on color, thickness and weeds. My Lawn suggests seasonally relevant lawn tips and grass-seeding projects that walk gardeners through the process with watering recommendations and timing of milestones – from early germination to seed success. Download the free app on the App Store and Google Play.