Smartgardener.com: Virtual help for first-time gardeners


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Photo: Smartgardener.com

Attention, first-time gardeners who wouldn’t know what to do with a shovel and packet of seeds if they fell at their feet. The answer to your gardening woes is just a mouse-click away. Simply visit Smartgardener.com, create an account and the website will help you create your dream garden based on a number of personal settings, including geo-location and household size. The site also features a database of more than 500 plants and the ability to purchase organic seeds online.

Here are the four steps to get you started:

1. Set up your garden
Choose the correct settings based your growing conditions and layout the size and shape of your garden beds.

2. Select your plants
You can browse, filter and choose from recommended plants.

3. Create your smart garden plan
The website will create a plan based on your plants, layout and growing conditions.

4. Receive your weekly to-dos
View your prep, plant, care and harvest to-dos. You can also receive them weekly in an email.

Just for fun (since I live in a NYC apartment), I used the ZIP code for my suburban, childhood home to create a garden on Smart Gardener. I chose two adults and zero children (the current status of my parents’ home).

Once logged in, I set up as best I could the setup in my parents’ backyard, a long, narrow strip of gardening space. The site offers various shapes and sizes of in-ground beds, raised beds and containers that you drag onto a grid.

I then chose a number of plants that the site recommended for my zip code. My picks included Beefsteak tomatoes, Baby Belle peppers, Georgia Jet sweet potatoes and Green Arrow peas. Once you’ve chosen your crops, Smart Gardener then arranges them in the gardening space you just created. You can, however, arrange your plants in any way you choose.

Photo: Smartgardener.com


The site then creates Weekly To-Do lists, which you check off once completed. Each to-do offers detailed instructions. For instance, the first on my list — planting the Beefsteak tomatoes — explains when to plant and how to plant the veggie. Smart Gardener also offers a Garden Journal, where you can add notes, photos and dates for your to-dos.

Other features include a weather forecast for your location; various guides for such topics as soil, care and pest types; and a glossary of gardening terms.