Skip to main content

Garden Planning Tools

How do other approaches compare to GGC?

If you search for "garden planning tools" on the Internet, you'll find dozens of applications. Most of those are essentially "landscape architecture" tools for people who want to design the visual look of their (flower) gardens. This is an interesting design problem, but not the problem addressed by Geo Garden Club.

If you narrow the search to say, "vegetable garden planning tools", you'll still find many that focus on the visual look of the garden bed, but there are a few that focus on the kinds of issues of interest to GGC. Here are a few of the applications we have found that address at least some of the needs of our target demographic: "serious" gardeners.

Growing Interactive

Growing Interactive bills itself as "the leading software company for gardeners", and this is probably correct. They have released a family of 9 white label software applications including:

They also appear to have spun off an independent mobile application development company called Knowledge is Porridge.

All of these garden planners appear to implement the same user interface, and differ in the contents of the application's seed catalog. In other words, Growing Interactive enables seed companies to augment their marketing materials (such as a color brochure) with an online application that helps gardeners design their garden plot and then guide them to the seeds from a specific vendor. The apps are subscription-based, and users pay around $30-$40/year after a free trial period.

This video appears to provide a good overview of the features associated with this family of applications:

Here are some of the interesting capabilities of Growing Interactive:

  • An interactive, online mechanism for specifying the "plot plan" with the layout of beds and the square footage associated with each bed. Based on the plot plan, the software can provide various capabilities, such as indicating the maximum number of plants of a given type that can be grown in a particular bed.

  • The software asks you to specify the geographic location of your garden on a map. From that, the software attempts to determine the climate conditions associated with your garden and automatically predict frost dates and the appropriate dates for sowing, transplanting, or harvesting.

  • Growing Interactive has produced a large YouTube library containing almost 500 videos and 750K subscribers.

On the other hand, Growing Interactive's software does not implement many of the GeoGardenClub design innovations: Chapters, Access Control, Observations, Outcomes, Seed Saving and Sharing. Perhaps most interestingly, Growing Interactive's business model (i.e. white label software for use by seed companies) would make it difficult for them to embrace our approach of allowing Chapters to build their own seed databases with a combination of vendors and gardener-supplied seeds.

In summary, Growing Interactive's software products will appeal to gardeners who benefit from a design tool for creating the plot plan. GGC will appeal to gardeners who benefit from our design innovations.

Planter

Planter appears to be quite similar to Growing Interactive. It costs only $12/year. Here is an intro video:

From the video, Planter seems like a somewhat more primitive version of Growing Interactive's software. You create a plot plan, drag and drop plants to it, and select from a pre-built list of plants and varieties. You can see all of their videos here.

Seed Time

SeedTime bills itself as "the Fastest Way to Plan Your Garden or Small Farm Ever. Visualize exactly when to seed, transplant, or harvest crops in your garden all year round - based on your local area." It is the most expensive app we found, at $13/month or $109/year. Here is their video library.

Here is an informative review by a user from Circle City Seeds, a seed saving organization.

From my experience signing up for the free trial, Seedtime is quite "aggressive" about marketing their affiliates to users. For example, there appear to be frequent time-limited promotions (i.e. "Get $5 off when you buy seeds from this vendor, this week only!"). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes it clear that affiliate marketing is a revenue stream for them.

Obsolete applications

There are some applications that are no longer available that can be instructive:

  • Garden Manager was designed to "keep you on track, helping optimize your plan for maximum food production, notifying you when it's time to start transplants, thin, harvest and more. Weird weather on it's way, or haven't had enough rain for what you're growing? No worries, your Garden Manager lets you know and shows you what to do." However, their home page goes on to say that "The Garden Manager App came down to make room for raising friends and families up."

  • Grow It! was the product of a collaboration between Ball Horticulture and Eight Bit Studios. They teamed up to "help the next generation of gardeners discover plants and learn about what grows in their region. What started out as a seed of an idea has bloomed into a community of over 1 million “Growers” who have submitted over 3 million photo ratings, while helping thousands of people identify plants and learn about what grows in their region."

Urban Agriculture Tools

"Urban Agriculture" is a general term for cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. These tools are distinguished from home garden planner tools by a focus on more professional, market-oriented approach to small-scale farming. Here are some of the products with some basic information:

Name/URLUsersCost
LFLiteFarm, wiki, github1000sFree, Open Source
COGCOG-Pro?$79-$159/year
VTVeggieTables?$89/year + $19/additional user
ASAgSquared SimpleFarm1000s$10/user/month
FBFarmbrite1000s$15-$30/month
TTend?$30-39/month
FSFarmStatistics?$20/year
ADAgritecture Designer120$30-80/month

Some general observations about urban agriculture tools:

  • These tools all emphasize (and provide support for) commercial, for-profit farming (albeit on a small scale).
  • Several focus on record-keeping required for organic certification.
  • Several focus on people management.
  • None have mechanisms to share data with neighboring farms.

Citizen Science technologies

Finally, we found a few tools that support citizen science as it relates to climate change:

Name/URLUsersCost
NNNature's Notebook1000sFree
SFSmartFin?Free

Our goal is for GGC to complement existing approaches to Citizen Science. We would like to work with these organizations to determine the best wa for GGC to collect data to augment current data sets and make them more valuable to researchers.