Photographer ~Jim Wilson/The New York Times
I haven’t gone barmy, (I think my level of barmy has long since been established), I’m referring to this little marvel:
‘*A lemon tree springs from the soil in Jason Aramburu’s backyard in Berkeley, California, alongside rose bushes, birds of paradise, strawberry plants and squash blossoms. The garden is thriving, but its upkeep requires almost no effort from Mr. Aramburu. Instead, a foot-high soil sensor does much of the work.
The plastic-and-stainless-steel device, topped by a tiny solar panel, determines the amount of water to be delivered to the garden each day, using Mr. Aramburu’s Wi-Fi network to communicate with a valve attached to his irrigation system. If the air is humid, or if rain is forecast, the valve limits or cuts off the supply. If the soil lacks nutrients, Mr. Aramburu receives an alert on a smartphone app telling him to add fertiliser. And it doesn’t hurt that the sensor initially analysed the clay-filled dirt of his yard and recommended which plants would thrive there.
The soil sensor and the water valve are Mr. Aramburu’s creations; he will soon begin selling them through his new company, Edyn. But his plan for his business goes beyond enabling people with upscale private gardens to cultivate things like exotic kale and heirloom beets. He also intends to sell sensors to farmers in developing nations at a low cost to help them grow food more efficiently and sustainably.’
Good on you, Mr Aramburu! Although I don’t mean to sound insensitive, never mind developing nations, his little sensor is something that could very much help my gardening efforts. Despite my best intentions (upending a packet of seeds into planters and hoping for the best), the most my poor garden has produced has been some monstrous dill (which prompted me to suddenly start making kosher dill pickles as it’s the only thing I could remember that needs dill); two rather alien looking peppers which sadly expired on the plant and some rather furry, low growing, to date unidentifiable veggie / herb that looks quite pretty but never produced anything vaguely edible looking.
I am, without question, a failure, when it comes to all things garden. See, that’s why inventions like those of Mr Aramburu are so necessary. No more over / under watering of said poor struggle plants from me. Come harvesting season, I’ll have a crop of healthy, happy, well fed veggies the like of which my garden has never seen.
*Excerpts from an article in the New York Times