From DIY hacks and experimental research to products on the market, here is a look at technologies intended to give gardeners a hand, whether the seeds are being planted on an urban rooftop, tiny porch or spacious backyard.
With bee populations collapsing, inventor Bill Whaley decided to step up. His VegiBee garden pollinator is a rechargeable wand that gently coaxes pollen from vegetable flowers into a wide spoon. Then the gardener dips each flower head in the loose pollen to increase yield.
Intrepid gardeners already use blow torches on weeds, so it wasn’t a huge leap for scientists at Leibniz University in Hanover, Germany, to get a laser to do the same thing. More recently the team tried using near-infrared lasers to target aphids and whiteflies.
Vincent Suozzi’s Ring Weeder is a lower tech alternative to lasers. His forked orange tool made from hard plastic slips over the index finger to make the task go faster. The device raked in more than double its funding goal last summer on Kickstarter.
Several years ago the Botanicalls DIY kit gave plants the ability to send tweets out whenever they needed water. However, based on how many plant tweets trailed off after desperate pleas for watering, it takes more than social media nudges to develop a green thumb.
California-based engineer Rory Aronson wanted to design a machine that could make growing food possible for anyone. His automated Farmbot is free and open-source so everyone from urban gardeners to industrial farmers could customize the tech for their needs.
Even toddlers can garden using Earth Starter’s Nourishmats and Herbmats. The startup, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter, makes kits containing reusable mats with coded holes for pre-planted seed balls. No digging, weeding or insecticide required.
Parrot’s Flower Power sensor measures sunlight, water, fertilizer and temperature for indoor or outdoor plants. The data gets transmitted via Bluetooth to a dedicated app customized for your plants to tell you exactly what they need.
Frost is such a perennial gardening problem that Colorado-based electrical engineer Craig Hollabaugh created the WarmDirt project to protect his plants. The waterproof electrical system he rigged up automatically adjusts the temperature to keep plant roots above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.