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The Internet of Things Comes To Your Garden 66

Iddo Genuth writes Connected devices are becoming ubiquitous — a number of new companies are now offering WIFI and BT enabled devices that can let you control almost all aspects of your garden from your smartphone or tablet, save you money on water and allow you to monitor your plant's health from a distance. In the past few months we have seen an explosion of new companies and products belonging to the 'Internet Of Things' (IOT) and this trend isn't skipping the garden. For years irrigation controllers were amongst the most hated, unintuitive devices around, but a new generation of small start-up companies such as Rachio, GreenIQ and GreenBox are looking to change that. They want to create completely new ways to interact with our garden which will be more wireless and more connected (with lots of smart sensors that will tell us what is going on with our plants before it's too late).
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The Internet of Things Comes To Your Garden

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    yet this

    • Two of the ads are for the same thing with different branding. Whats worse, the products aren't even shipping yet! They stink of some kind of preorder-never-get-your-thing deals.
    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      The highest technology in my garden is the pump that drives the waterfall for the fish pond, and I fully intend to keep it that way. I work with technology all day, I go home and play in the dirt to get away from it. Want to test the soil humidity in your garden? Grab a handful of dirt in several different places. What else would an electronic monitor be able to measure? They can't tell if the maple tree is shading the rhododendron too much or if the daisies are infringing on the roses, and there aren'

      • If you actually like gardening it would be largely pointless (and if you don't, why exactly would you pretend with a bunch of expensive gadgets?); but calculating, at a quite granular level, the length and intensity of exposure to sunlight in various areas across the course of a day should actually be relatively tractable by machine vision standards...
        • by cusco ( 717999 )

          We have 7 rhodies, 4 like partial shade, 3 like full sun. We have climbing roses, which don't give a shit if the daisies completely surround them, oriental roses, which don't like anything growing within a half mile, and wild roses, which will crowd out the daisies all on their own. Then there is all the stuff under the Japanese maple that the cameras couldn't even see, the huge portion of the yard that is blocked from view by the enormous wisteria, and the fig tree and butterfly bushes that shade complet

      • They can't tell if the maple tree is shading the rhododendron too much or if the daisies are infringing on the roses, and there aren't even many children that can tell the difference between a weed an a flower.

        Why not? What about timelapse cameras?

      • I'm pretty sure most kids know the difference between a weed and a flower... Flowers don't come in little baggies or paper bags...
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:57PM (#47352475) Journal
    Advanced Mycorrhizal networking technology, as pioneered by fungi at least 400 million years ago, has been providing advanced inter-plant networking technology (as well as a robust nutrient exchange infrastructure) since you were small, shrew-like, creatures busy 'disrupting' dinosaurs.

  • Waste of Tech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:10PM (#47352627) Homepage Journal

    Ever wonder why, after almost a century of technological development, a lot of small time and hobby farmers still drive 1940's era tractors?

    A, because they're cheap to buy and fix. B, because if it ain't broke, it don't need fixin'.

    I'm sure all these fancy garden toys are quite popular with the hipster, urban-farming-because-its-hip crowd, but for actual subsistence farming? Not so much.

    • It's probably mostly an issue of coping with limited areas, where you want to optimize stuff to hell. Gardening rarely intersects with tractor use (at least around here).
      • It's less about the tool itself and more about the mentality. A lot of people hobby farm for the joy of it (see other comments on this story), and this sort of tech takes away from the enjoyment. As for subsistence farmers, they're just one more expensive toy that will eventually break, potentially leaving them with damaged crops.

        Huge factory farms and people who want to have pet plants but consistently forget to care for them might benefit from such devices, but I just don't see the demand coming from peop

        • I used quite a bit of tech in my last gardening endeavor, but not in an "Internet of things" way. I used Craigslist to scrounge for everything except my tomato seedlings. I used bamboo that was growing by the side of the house to cage the plants. It was like a big scavenger hunt to see whether or not I could get "something for nothing". I even saved seeds for the next year; but I think they got lost in the move. I moved too late in the growing season and had too much else going on to garden this year;

    • by wcrowe ( 94389 )

      Good point. I don't so much want something that will regulate my water. Watering is not a problem. But show me something that will pull weeds and tie up tomatoes, and I'm all in.

      • I could go for a modified version of Microsoft's laser-based anti-mosquito system, set up to target garden pests.

        That'd keep the grackles off my blackberries...

    • Ever wonder why, after almost a century of technological development, a lot of small time and hobby farmers still drive 1940's era tractors?

      Because they're either dead broke, stupid, or they're fascinated by retro things. 1940's era tractors are uncomfortable, low power, and at best middling in reliability. (And while you can with ever increasing investment of man hours jerry rig them along, you can't get parts for them anywhere but on the (expensive) hobbyist market.) Just as with cars and most other th

  • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:11PM (#47352631)

    I've been using this wonderful device for controlling drip irrigation: []

    The user interface is brain-dead simple. The dial simply has 17 settings, for
    1: Daily for 2 minutes
    2: Daily for 5 minutes
    3: Daily for 10 minutes ...
    7: Every other day for 5 minutes
    8: Every other day for 10 minutes ...
    12: Every third day for 10 minutes
    13: Every third day for 15 minutes

    That's it! There isn't an option for "2 minutes every 3 days" because -- guess what -- gardeners don't actually need that level of control! It just has a laser focus on a simple user interface that will be good for 99% of residential customers.

    Would my life be better if I had to change the batteries in the irrigation controller every 5 days to power its wifi? Or if I had to run mains power and Ethernet cabling out into the garden for it? Would my life be better if I had a fiddly iPhone/Android app with more settings pages than I'd care to use, maybe a cloud-based controller like my Nest? Do I ever go on holiday and wish I'd changed the watering schedule before departing?


    • I've been using this wonderful device for controlling drip irrigation: []

      I used something kind of like that for about two weeks, until one day I came home to find that the mechanism had spontaneously exploded* sometime hours before, and my garden had turned into a small swamp-like biome.

      Now I just mulch properly and water in the morning/evening like I used to; the mulch makes all the difference in the world.

      * Caveat, the model was one of those super-cheap ones from Harbor Freight, so I should have expected catastrophic failure.

    • Does your solution account for weather forecast? Because watering the lawn 12 hours before it is going to rain seems like a bit of a waste.

      I'd love to have a timer that was smart enough to read the local weather forecast, and make decisions. I'd also love to have a timer where I could walk the zones in my garden periodically and using my smart phone/tablet and increase/decrease the amount of watering duration for the zone.

      • Speaking as a Northern Californian. If I didn't waste the water they would just send it to LA.

        Better here then there.

  • Wifi interference / trying to get an outside single. May get in the way of this working good.

  • Most of my property is xeriscaped.

    The rest is planter boxes with vegetables.
    I manually, by hand, water my drought tolerant plants maybe twice a week.
    I manually, by hand, water my planter box vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc usually daily.

    What I have to water isn't huge, but it takes a while.
    I actually enjoy watering. I get to see my plants, check how they are doing, etc;
    I actually check the soil and how moist it is, see what bugs there are/aren't, the status of my garden in general as I water.
    • by wcrowe ( 94389 )

      You are not odd.

    • "I manually, by hand, water my planter box vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc usually daily. "

      And you never take a vacation, manually or otherwise.

      • There is a system, usually reliable, whereby I can call on my friends, neighbors and relatives to do my watering when I'm out of town.
        Usually works pretty good if I give them a quick primer.
  • The company created a small, slick-looking, controller that costumers can connect instead of their old irrigation controller

    I hope that Garden Gnome costume isn't too tight around the waist!

    • by khr ( 708262 )

      I hope that Garden Gnome costume isn't too tight around the waist!

      It is if they spend too much time gulping Mountain Dew and scarfing down Cheetos while playing MUDs in the garden...

  • The Internet of Things Comes To Your Garden

    Again with the "your." Unless the powers that be are going to force people to install e-Gnomes, the "Internet of Things" is not coming to my garden.

  • by EMG at MU ( 1194965 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:29PM (#47352857)
    I'm an embedded developer and also have a hobby garden. So when things got cheap enough I got really excited about building a contraption to monitor moisture, ph, amount of sun and to adjust fertilizer and water levels accordingly. Then I realized that for hobby gardeners this really defeats the purpose. We garden for fun, and at least for me, I don't like bringing technology to things that don't need it.

    On the other hand, those guys out in colorado growing pot will love this kind of thing.
  • I'm still watering my veggies with a sprinkler, for the most part. I check my soil's moisture with my finger, and I calculate how much water has been put down using either a couple tin cans or some cheapie rain gauges.

    I guess this new equipment is now going to be added to the list of things I'm not using. On the bright side, it also means some hacker isn't going to turn my vegetable garden into a bog garden from the comfort of their parents' basement... they'll have to sneak into my yard and turn on the fau

  • what if I get stuck in a walled garden?
  • They've figured out one more gadget mobile way to extract unnecessary money from your wallet. You'll feel lighter, slimmer and faster without all that money clogging up your bank account!

  • Handling water may possibly become my first Arduino or RaspPi project, if I can get through my newbie ignorance, and learn some new tricks as an old dog.

    We have flood irrigation that comes in from an acequia every couple weeks (used to be every week, but times are changing) at an irregular rate at irregular time-of-day. (You can't deal with this, just using timers, and the amount of water pressure is tiny compared to what you usually have on a typical garden hose, so lots of cheap ubiquitous gadgets don't

  • The reason I have a garden is to have a place where I can go outside and putter around with living things. The pace at which things happen in the garden is very slow and relaxing. The needs of the plants are simple.

    The most stressful thing that happens in my garden is the annual competition between me and the birds to see who will get the grapes and blueberries. Really though I don't mind much if the birds get some. They are enjoyable to have around in their own way.

    The last thing I want is some sort of aut

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's all I need, fucking ads while picking my tomatoes.

  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @08:14PM (#47355319) Homepage
    I just read every post (up to this point), and it's the real gardeners who are opposed to the tech solutions.

    That's not what gardening is about. You have to get out there and get your hands dirty to enjoy it. I was born with a "green thumb" and can grow almost anything, even plants that are supposed to be outside of my growing zone. But you gotta be out there with 'em to know what they need and when they need it. Too many people over-water, plant in the wrong place, or over-fertilize and then wonder what went wrong.

    I even like my weeds. Many of them are edible!
  • ...I think I will continue mowing the grass by myself, rather than wasting twice the time fixing network interfaces, rebooting controllers, changing batteries, etc.
  • The fact that my cucumbers aren't on my home network is a source of constant shame and sorrow.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?