Gardening,  Other Writings

Digital Gardening: Free Apps for Your Green Thumb

ipad gardening app

Have you enjoyed the first signs of spring as much as I have? There’s nothing like a few 50° days in a row to get you thinking about planting. With frost still in the ground and snow covering much of Minnesota, it’s going to take some extra patience not to bust out the trowels and rakes. However, there is one tool we all can use this time of year to help jumpstart our gardening – a tablet or smartphone. In the past few years, several useful (and free) gardening apps emerged on both the iPad and Android app markets. Below I’ve jotted down a few that I think you should check out this spring as your waiting for planting season to begin.

Worried about taking your iPad out to play in the dirt? Put it in a zip-top plastic food bag. It will still be touchscreen sensitive without risking any encounters with dirt, water, or nasty scratches.

GardenTime Planner by Burpee - If you’re brand new to gardening this year or looking for planting times in your zip code, this app is a great resource. Plants are limited to the Burpee brand, so if you’re looking for heirlooms or unique varietals this might not be the choice for you.

Fine Gardening’s Tomato Match Have a thing for tomatoes? Looking for the best variety for canning or slicing on sandwiches? Tomato Match allows you to search common and unique tomato varieties by use, color, planting schedule. When you find one you like, it links to sites where you can purchase seeds and plants. 

Permaculture –  Permaculture continues to be one of the fastest growing gardening trends in the United States. This app has articles, links to permaculture blogs, and videos to give the novice and experienced gardener a good overview of permaculture. It’s not the most dressed up, but for a free app the available content is well worth it. 

Garden Minder by Gardener’s Supply  I’ve used the Gardener’s Supply online application for planning my garden sketches for the past 3 seasons. This year, I’ll be transferring to the iPad for my planning, including creating my own sketches for square-foot gardening and notifications when plants should be started, maintained and harvested according to zone. Although there’s no way to retro-actively add data, there’s a great section for journaling and adding photos to track your progress season to season. –  Have you ever wanted a Facebook-like experience for gardeners? is a free website that combines social networking with gardening. Their mobile application allows you to search more than 6000 plants and connect with more than 5000 other green thumbs. My favorite feature is the ability to upload photos of unknown plants to the site for other gardeners to help identify. The app is free but it does require signing up for an account on

These apps are all free on the Apple and Android app market. If you’re interested in giving up some of your other “green stuff” for paid gardening apps, the New York Times has a good review of apps priced from $0.99 to 9.99. No gardener should live without a good weather app either. Check out the NYT reviews for the best data-based weather apps to keep your plants in the best condition all summer long.


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