Gardening is a popular hobby, and you don’t even need a garden to get the bug. Small allotments or patio pots can be used for a remarkably diverse array of growing projects; and even pots on the windowsill can add a touch of colour to your home.
But if there’s one thing that puts people off gardening, it’s the worry that you need a lot of knowledge to get started. How do you know which plants to select when you can’t name more than a couple, and a walk around a garden centre feels like entering an alien world?
And when it comes to choosing plants, how do you decide what to plant where and when? Plants are fickle things and, if you put them in the wrong spot at the wrong time, you’ll get no benefit. You need to learn which plants like shade and which do well in full sunshine. But you don’t have to do all the learning from scratch yourself and, of course, your iPad and iPhone can help every step of the way.
Before you even begin thinking about how your garden might look and what you might grow, it’s a good idea to do some research. This will help you get a feel for the kinds of things you could do and the amount of work that might involve. Are you a flower gardener or do you want to grow vegetables? Do you like bulbs or shrubs? How much can you realistically achieve with the time you have and the space available?
Do some leisurely browsing. Seek out websites and blogs for reading when you are settled down indoors or out. Just browsing for ‘gardening blogs’ turns up plenty of choices, but for starters we like blogs.crocus.co.uk/kitchengarden, joanne-orangecottages.blogspot.com, and londonvegetablegarden.blogspot.com.
Although these blogs aren’t iPad- or iPhone-specific, they are great places to start getting your mind racing with what you might try, and what might be feasible in your garden. Blogs are also great for learning from other people’s experience, and lots of gardening blogs are written in a very friendly style.
Planning and planting
Eventually, though, you need to bite the bullet and get gardening. Using apps to design the layout of a plot, you can work out what will go where and find plants suitable for your needs.
The great joy of doing this on an iPad or iPhone is that you can take the device with you when it comes to buying plants, which means you can have your wants list to hand, as well as any notes you may have made. And you can keep on adding information to your device too, by making new notes and taking photos. A lot of the better gardening apps give you space for this activity, and if you’d rather you can always use a non-gardening notes app.
It sounds boring, but it’s true that you need to put ongoing effort into keeping your garden neat and tidy. Apps can help generate management plans, reminding you when different things are needed. Some do this internally, others can send you reminder emails. It might sound a bit dull, but having an app that tells you it’s time to prune the roses or dig up the parsnips could prove to be worth its weight in manure.
Choose your apps carefully
You need to be a bit careful when choosing apps, though. Not all of them are UK-specific, and there’s little point in buying a gardening app for another country. Different parts of the world have different growing seasons, climates and have habitats for different kinds of plants.
Garden Plan Pro
Price £6.99 Download itun.es/iPB9PV
A comprehensive app for anyone wanting to grow fruit and veg, Garden Plan Pro can take you from initial plot design through to planting and reaping the harvest. There’s information on a range of fruit and veg, and the app will even produce a planting chart. If you think you’ll need prompting, you can set the program to send you fortnightly emails stating exactly what needs to be done.
Plants Pro lets you build a database of all the plants you have, indoors and out. Its key feature is that once you’ve got the plant database configured, you can check the app to see what needs to be done with each one. It covers tasks from watering to repotting plants to ensure they stay healthy. When a task is completed, tick it off and wait for the next reminder. You can add your own plants to its library, so Plants Pro will always be on top of your gardening necessities.