Few home gardeners count electronics among the trusty tools in their gardening toolbox. Right now Amy Stewart, one of the very opinionated and talented writers of the Garden Rant blog, has posted about this gadget, above, which takes soil and sun readings that can be analyzed on your computer. For those of you who lead busy city lives or are just learning to garden, do you think this gadget has a place in your life? Or is this where we all should draw the line?
EasyBloom is a $60 device that you stick in your garden or plant pot's soil. It collects data on moisture, sunlight, temperature and fertilizer levels. The top pops off to reveal a usb connection which you then plug into your computer and, using software, analyzes the data. It will then give you suggestions on how to care for your plants as well as suggest others from their database of over 6000 that could grow in the same spot.
Garden Rant's post on the EasyBloom and e-gadgets in general has already started a lively debate on who would use this item and where it may fall short in its comprehensiveness and accuracy.
When we were first approached about this product I had many of the same reactions as Amy Stewart. Another gadget in the garden is not what I wanted. By trying to make things simple it seemed like it could be dumbing down the gardening experience a bit too much. More plastic and electronics and a $60 cost that could be used on so many other things - like the bypass pruners I need! I was going to put off contemplating this until maybe when the cold weather set in.
I see discovery and observation as one of the benefits of gardening. And yes, there will be dead plants along the way - for me, it's all part of the process. Another benefit to gardening and plant care is the actual human exchange that can take place when troubleshooting a garden. By following a device for making gardening decisions and simplifying the results we are losing a chance to enrich our own instincts and knowledge on how plants work.
But could it be that while I'm thinking of the garden experience I wish people would have, I am ignoring the reality of what most people experience? Is it possible that a gadget like this would create gardeners out of more people that would otherwise never have had the confidence or a mentor to get them started in growing a plant?
I have not taken the EasyBloom for a spin so cannot speak to its effectiveness. I do wonder about its limitations and the advice it gives, especially where fertilizer is concerned. But I also wonder if it wouldn't be a great classroom tool for learning along with a seasoned gardener. And as one can see on their blog, they use the data collected by users to show larger gardening trends, a nice side benefit from the individual use of the product.
I would love to hear what the Re-Nest community thinks about the potential for this e-gadget in the garden - and please let us know if you have actually tried it out.
Matt writes a weekly column on plants, flowers and gardening. Feel free to e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org