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Personal Tech For Women: 5 Things You Need To Know About The Smart Garden

Monday, June 08, 2015


Even if your thumb is nowhere near the fairest shade of green, there are helpful devices out there to keep your garden growing – and glowing. And as Portland’s roses are blooming – alongside other seasonal blossoms and rows of residential veggies gardens – here are 5 smart tools that purport to make any form of gardening fun, easy and environmentally conscious. You might be inspired to turn your casual patch of random sprouts and meandering weeds into a pristinely manicured showstopper. 

In the garden of Edyn

This Internet of Things gardening tool takes the natural, organic process of gardening and turns it into a heady system of tightly controlled sensors. Edyn Garden Sensor, initially launched as a Kickstarter campaign, tracks and monitors temperature, humidity, light and soil nutrients of your garden bed, and then cross-references that info with plant, soil science, and weather databases to offer suggestions about what plants will work best for your garden bed. The Wi-Fi enabled sensor gives you all the details on your smartphone. It also comes with a Water Valve, which automatically controls your existing water system based on the Garden Sensor data and adapts to every change in the weather forecast. Like deploying a “robot gardener”, you can use the Edyn app to control the Water Valve, which means you can water your plants from work or vacation. Pre-order both parts now for $159.98. Shipments go out in summer. 

Quick herbs, easy as a printing 

This gadget assists those too afraid to tackle the kitchen window herb box. Using nano-technology, Click & Grow’s “smart soil” keeps indoor plants nourished at all times, delicately balancing water and oxygen. “It’s a bit like giving plants a personal trainer, a chef, Harvard schooling, loving parents and a dog,” says its website. There are two components here: the first is the Smart Herb Garden planter (think printer) that comes with an adjustable lamp and “water tank” compartment at the base; and the second are the replaceable plant “cartridges”, that include everything from blooming flowers to herbs and spices like basil, chili pepper and rosemary. Set it up and plug it in. The system allows you to grow three plants at a time, and ranges from $99 to $120. 

Personalized vegetable garden planner

Smart Gardener is an online vegetable garden planner that collects, calculates and creates a smart personal profile of a garden made just for you. Start by entering your zip code and the number of people in your family. The Smart Gardener will create a profile of your growing season to track your garden. You then plug in all the info – the layout, size and shape of your garden. Maybe you’ve chosen raised beds instead of earth-based? Then, select seeds from over 500 organic, GMO free, edible varieties that the Smart Gardener can help you locate. Combing your layout with your seeds, the Smart Gardener chooses a plan for you and starts tracking all the steps needed to accomplish your garden. It will even send you “To Do” reminders so you can stay on top on your gardening chores – from when to plant to when to harvest.

Be considerate of drought

As drought is becoming a tough reality in Oregon, you might be want to think about cutting back on your sprinkler use, even before the government forces you to. Blossom, the Smart Watering Controller says it all in the name. According to the company, we waste 50 percent of irrigation water. So Blossom programs itself with the proper watering schedule for your lawn, so you don’t over water. And like the Edyn Water Valve, Blossom is another example of connected sensors in the Internet of Things network. The hardware can be installed outside, while the corresponding app lets you monitor and control your yard’s watering schedule from anywhere. Apart from being good to the environment, Blossom claims to lower your water bill by up to 30 percent, for $199. Or try its competitor, the disc-shaped Smart Garden Hub by GreenIQ, which nestles into your garden’s soil like a long-tossed and forgotten Frisbee. 

Smart pruning 

This tool is “smart” in a traditional sense – clever and intelligently designed, but with no operating system or “life-simulating” sensors. Nope, it’s just a darn good pair of scissors. After you’ve used the aforementioned gadgets and apps, you’ll probably need a sharp pruning tool to keep your plants, flowers and harvest at optimal health. Smart Garden Products offer the world’s first self-cleaning scissors. A spring-loaded handle meets Smart Blade Technology (ultra-thin cutting edge and an angled blade), so gardeners never to have scrap or wipe garden gunk off these shears.

Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalPDX, in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.


Related Slideshow: 5 Tech Innovations Changing Oregon

New innovations in technology are changing things for Oregon and its residents. Here are five tech innovations that are making a difference. 

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Virtual Schools

Free virtual schools provide curriculums and a classroom experience over the internet. The Oregon Virtual Academy is part of national system that provides alternative education options for grades k-12. Students can interact with teachers and students from their homes, and be supplied with textbooks and materials for free.  

“Right now there seems to be four times as many parents calling for students than last year,” Allen Finger, Enrollment Consultant for the Virtual Academy, said. “People are looking for flexible options, or the student may be facing bully issues, or schools may not be meeting issues. In the next 20 years we will see a rapid decline of traditional schools and a rise of virtual schools.”

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3-D Printing

3D printing is no new technology, but in the last couple years new innovations have revolutionized how people use it. The process has become much more accurate and affordable, so that schools, companies, and startups are changing the way they think about manufacturing 

“It saves months of time and 100s of thousands of dollars in molding,” said David Anderson, vice president of Oregon Swiss Precision. “It completely alters how manufacturing is done, literally changes everything across the board.” 

Anderson said many schools have added 3D printers, helping students become interested and excited about engineering. 


Photo Credit: Creative Tools via Compfight cc

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Access to Internet

Oregonians have seen an increased access to internet, as well as ways to reach it. Problems with being a heavily rural state have limited access to high speed internet, but providers has grown and cellular companies have expanded their 4G networks.  Google Fiber could show up to Portland in the next few years, which has pushed local providers to up their game. Portland has its own wireless mesh network, which helps neighbors share their internet and create free networks.  

“We as users had become dependent on companies that weren’t acting in our interests,” said Russell Senior, president of the Personal Telco Project mesh network.  “It was an act of self creation for something better.” 

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Open Health Data

In recent years Medicaid and Medicare have released new information that was obscure in the past, which has helped inform the public on the spending and costs of the health care system. Personal records have become easy to exchange between health systems, doctors, and patients, according to Tom Yackel, M.D., chief health informational officer at OHSU.

“I think [open health data] is opening up the dialog, and changing the dynamic of the health care system, said Amy Fellows, Executive Director of We Can Do Better, a nonprofit that helped start the Open Notes program in Oregon. “It improved the understanding of health care.” 

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Civic Engagement

With new ways to access and view data, Oregonians can be informed on important issues. Apps and websites bring information to the viewer in a personalized and effective fashion. Civic-minded projects help people make sense of information they need to know. The Behind the Curtain Project by HackOregon in 2014 sought to help voters know how money influenced campaigns. 

“We are just beginning to understand the power of data visualization and how it can tell a story to make a person understand or feel differently,” Catherine Nikolovski, founder of HackOregon said. “We are hoping to improve quality of life.” 


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