Garden Connections

Paula LaBrot

There are many beautiful gardens in Topanga, as varied and eccentric as the people who live here. After the killing heat we have had, determined to revive my own fried, scorched, burnt greenery, I was wondering, what do new technologies have to offer our gardens? It turns out….quite a few things!

Apps are programs you can download onto your smartphone. Plantsnap, Leafsnap and FlowerChecker will help you identify plants you may be  interested in growing. With iScape you can create digital models of your property and create your ideas digitally to give you an idea of what your garden will look like. You can build a garden that works with your sunlight, climate zone and even plant height preferences with the Perennial Match app. Just plug in your requirements and you’ll find plants that thrive together. GardenPro is a smart app that incorporates weather data, so it can tell you the best season to grow particular plants.

VegetableGardenPlanner, recommended by Mother Earth News, can be used to design beds for any garden. It has planting charts and guidance and remembers enough to create crop rotations to keep your soil healthy.  Garden Time Planner provides information about when you should plant and harvest your crops, specific to both their type and the region. It features a task list to help you keep track of what you need to do and when you need to do it. Find your favorite by searching for “garden planning apps.”

If you don’t have a smartphone, just type “garden planning” on your computer search bar. There are online garden planning tools, design ideas for beginners and experts, ideas for gardening with children and lots and lots of sites specific to whatever you want to plant and grow.

As far as planting, I love Youtube. Honestly, on Youtube you can learn how to do anything, including inserting a pacemaker or delivering a baby!  I have learned how to plant a mango tree, how to plant a rose bush, how to plant lavender and lots of other plants. I love seeing someone actually planting rather than reading directions…it’s just easier for me. And when it comes time for pruning, just type in ‘how to prune a whatever,’ and you will soon be an expert. God bless all the wonderful people who upload demonstrations that are so helpful.

Once you have planted, and things are growing, there are helpful maintenance apps and internet sites. In the app department, GardenCompassPlantandDisease Identifier gets experts to identify pests and diseases from photos you upload. They diagnose and suggest cures for your plant problems. The apps are wonderful, because you just snap a picture of something and send it to someone who tells you what the problem is and what to do about it. You can still get that information online by searching, but it is not as easy as an app. However, online blogs are another matter! They have lots of information and tips. You can becomes part of an online gardening community and make friends. GardenRant and VeggieGardenTips  are popular blogs, according to

With the Internet of Things (IoT), you can make your life a lot easier with some of the new technologies. How about a baby monitor….for plants?  For sale on Amazon, “Parrot Flower Power is a sensor to be “planted” close to a plant, indoor or outdoor, in a pot or in open ground. It precisely measures, in real time, the parameters that are crucial for the growth and good health of plants: soil moisture, fertilizer, ambient temperature and light intensity.” Monitor your plants’ health directly from your smartphone.

The Infragram Photography Project sells an inexpensive little camera that takes pictures to examine plant health in gardens, farms, parks and wetlands. Infrared photography is a sophisticated tool for monitoring soil and weather conditions, telling farmers when and how much to water and fertilize. The Infragram allows average people to monitor their environment through verifiable, quantifiable, open source citizen-generated data. This is a fun tool for your budding scientist to create lots of projects, and it will get them outside into the garden!

Of course, there are lots of new watering technologies. Edyn monitors all soil conditions in your garden and sends the information to your phone or computer. It even recommends which plants will grow the best! Smart sprinklers water when necessary. Hydroponics—growing plants without soil—brings gardening inside. Smart grow lights stand in for the sun.  Water condensing machines are also becoming a reality. My favorite is the Israeli WaterGen technology making such a humanitarian difference changing air into water with as little as 300 watts of power, producing serious amounts of super-clean water with game-changing, compassionate technology, planting hope, health, and love.

Here’s to a greener future for my own wilted garden and the world with a little tech help!

Vamos a ver!


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace.

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