Put away those gardening books. This spring, you can use apps to figure out exactly what to plant and when - and to keep track of your growing garden. Whether you've always been a fan of homegrown vegetables or are simply looking for some inspiration as to which herbs you might have in your kitchen, there are helpful smartphone apps, with encyclopedias on thousands of plant species available at your fingertips. In addition, mobile apps can help you set a gardening schedule, including to-do lists, reminders and estimates of when plants will be ready for harvest. This way, you can stay on top of your garden and truly enjoy your time out in nature.
Botany Buddy (Available on iTunes for $9.99)
At first sight, the price tag of this app might deter you from purchasing it. However, when you consider all that the Botany Buddy app offers, its $10 price tag may be worth it for gardening enthusiasts. Botany Buddy allows you to search more than 2,000 plant species by common or botanical name. Whether you're looking for a particular tree, shrub, cactus, succulent or tropical plant, chances are you will find it in this app's database. In addition, there are over 9,500 original and scientifically verified color photos for you to browse (none of the content is taken from Wikipedia or Flickr). Once you have installed the library, you won't need an internet connection to load it up, meaning that you can use it while you're out and about. Should you want to share your botanical finds with other buddies, you can do so directly from the app. Updates are free, too.
Garden Tracker (Available on iTunes for $1.99)
This app is geared towards those interested in vegetable gardening. Whether you prefer artichokes or zucchinis, you can find information on planting their seeds in Garden Tracker. You can use the app to keep track of watering and fertilizing, and when to harvest your plants. Garden Tracker also has information on common garden pests.
Gardening Toolkit (Available on iTunes for $1.99)
If you are based in the U.S., Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, consider this app when you plant your garden this year. Taking into account your location, the season and frost likelihood, the Gardening Toolkit app will put together a list of suggested plants for you to grow. In fact, if you live in the U.S., all you have to do is type your zipcode and the app will display your "hardiness zone" which is a rundown of year-round climate conditions in your area. Once you start planting, use the "My Garden" feature to track when each plant is going to bloom and when you can harvest it. Adding notes and photos is similarly easy; in fact, the app even comes with a To-Do List feature so you don't forget when to add fertilizer, for example. Last but not least, if you're ever in doubt, you can browse the encyclopedia, which contains information and photos of over 1,000 species.
The Gardenate app provides information on over 90 edible garden plants. If you open up the "Planting Now" feature, you'll receive local planting information for the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. The calendar feature, in turn, will tell you what to plant and how, month-by-month. The Gardenate app itself works without an internet connection, but if you want more tips, head to gardenate.com and interact with a community of plant lovers online.
The creators of this app describe it as being "great for medical marijuana patients," but really, anyone growing any kind of plant at home can take advantage of the Grow Journal, which lets you easily track the growth of your plants. The app itself comes with a list of over 150 plants, but you can also add your own. You can add your own photos of your plants too. Emailing the status of a plant to your friends and family will require an internet connection.