When I was writing Vegetable Growing Month by Month, I realised there were two problems with the monthly ‘what-to-do’ guides.
The first problem was one of geography. Although I was writing basically for Britain, Britain is not all the same as far as climate is concerned. From north to south is roughly 600 miles and the general rule is that the further north, the later spring arrives and the sooner winter comes.
From east to west might only be 300 miles but the big difference here is the weather and particularly rainfall. Our weather tends to come in from the Atlantic, dumping the rain as it hits mountains and hills making the west wetter than the east by far.
The second problem was that, whatever the averages, our weather is highly variable. Some years we hardly seem to get a winter, it’s so mild. Other winters we find ourselves with almost Arctic temperatures like minus 15 C.
Spring can be slow to arrive or here early. We really just don’t know from one year to the next what to expect.
Technology to the Rescue!
Now technology is coming to the rescue. If you know where somebody is geographically you can use this information combined with weather data to give them a personalised advice service. That sounds simple in theory but in practice it requires some pretty clever programming to do.
The Sprout it app
Fire this information down to someone’s phone or laptop and it’s a great resource. This is where Sprout it comes in. Originally launched in the USA, it’s just now become available in Britain. I’ve been testing out the US system and have to say it’s a great aid for new growers and a useful reminder system for the more experienced.
Basically you just tell the app what you want to grow and it sends you information and tips just when you need them – based on your garden preferences and location. Like many really clever ideas, it’s pretty straightforward and simple at heart.
It also learns from you – you provide it with information on what you are growing and the app helps you track your plants as they grow, giving you opportunities to provide feedback at each milestone so the app gets smarter and more accurate. Basically, the more you use it, the more accurate it gets.
Tips & Help
There are quick tips too – just select a herb or vegetable and get the basic growing information, useful when deciding whether or not to grow something. They also have sample gardens showing what you could grow based on what you want out of them. From a basics garden through to a cocktail garden which is, to quote;
..collection of fresh, aromatic herbs (plus one drink-friendly veggie), you can garnish, muddle and infuse your way to more delicious and creative cocktails”
It’s sponsored by MiracleGro® who have provided a lot of the information. I must admit to being surprised, I thought MiracleGro was British! Live and learn. Certainly a respected company on both sides of the pond.
Finally, the price. Are you sitting down? It’s free! You can sign up for it here: gosprout.it