Caston Thomas is the owner of InterWorks and co-host of The Internet Advisor Radio show. The title of his talk was “Gardening Apps,” but an alternate title was “Master Gardeners Meet High ‘Yech’ (and It Ain’t Gonna Be Pretty).”
He quoted Richard Louv: “Gardening is not leisure time. It’s an essential investment in our health.” He bemoaned the fact that children spend too much time looking at screens and not enough playing outdoors. Gardening gives us outdoor activity, a sense of accomplishment and ownership, increase in serotonin, and teaches us delay of gratification. He cited research that shows certain soil bacteria trigger the release of serotonin.
In the modern age we have the problem of information overload. There is a website for practically everything. Although it is often maligned, Wikipedia can be a place to start a search. Cornell, Texas A&M and Michigan State University all have excellent horticulture information on their websites.
How do you pick a gardening app? Friends and others’ opinions and reviews can be helpful. Is it easy to use and does it do what you need it to do? Lots of apps are free, and others just give a free sample to try. Like everything else on the internet, the watchword should be “buyer beware.” Some of his favorites are: Plant Diary, Pro Landscape, Companion Garden Compass, Leaf Snap (plant ID), Gardening Manager, Garden Answers (plant ID), Burpee Garden Time, Gardener’s Supply, iScape (design).
If you like participating in research as a citizen scientist, he recommended Project Noah where you can explore and document wildlife. (If you are interested in citizen science and want to be a better gardener to boot, I recommend CoCoRaHS – Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow. Using a rain gauge accurate to .01”, you report your rainfall daily. I keep my own record and compare my monthly and annual totals with averages from the National Weather Service website.)
Caston then talked about computer hygiene – the “yech” in “tech.” Update everything and change your passwords often. Don’t click on anything if you don’t know where it came from, and be cautious even if you do know where it came from. The hackers are looking for Windows XP users because Microsoft is no longer updating the program. If you have a Virtual Private Network, you can bypass an internet service provider.
Caston’s program can be heard on WJR from 6 to 7 pm on Saturday evenings.