Saturday, March 8, 2014

Homesteading? There's An App For That

Technology has certainly revolutionized life and in the area of homesteading it's no exception. So why not take advantage of that technology and use it to help in the areas of quick referencing for information, calculations, calendar memos, and tracking (journaling)?

Yes, there are apps for all that. In fact, there are quite a few! But I like simple, easy to use apps... things I would use for example when I'm actually OUT IN THE GARDEN and I don't have anything but my phone with me. I can do all the planning I want in the house, but when I get outside, it's like I can't remember a thing!

Here are a few new favorites... All for FREE.

1. Organic Gardening's "Plant Planner". 
Features include... 
  • Database of plants with complete planting information - herbs, vegetables, and even flowers, which makes it great for those who have potager gardens. And photos are included! If only it included companion planting  information and rotation notes! Hopefully in a future update.
  • GPS supported location finder identifies frost dates for your garden - this app has been the most accurate by far! 
  • Weather data for your area - Again, because of the GPS, it's highly accurate. It even tells me what weather station the app is using to gather the info. Mine happens to be about 1.5 miles from my house.
  • Option to save plants in your virtual garden for future reference. This is strictly a listing and not a diagram of your garden. However, it does keep notes of planting dates and harvest dates.
  • Calendar - this is a blank page for you to add dates and notes. For example, I added what I want to plant in the future so I have a reminder (no alarm on this app). Also, I included harvest dates and I plan to add dates for sowing succession plantings. Would be even better if the calendar updated automatically if you add a plant to your garden, but all in all it's a great app that's easy to use.

2.  Vegetable Garden Calculator. 
I tend to over plant or under plant. And sometimes I just have no clue! This app's features are pretty simple... just a listing of veggies and yield information. Select "add", the number of people you are planting for, and it calculates the number of plants you need. That's it. Simple and straightforward. 

If you like this app, the same people offer a few others for a small fee that might be worth the purchase price such as "Store It Smart" - a quick reference guide to keeping all that produce fresh, including long term storage information.

3. Egg Vestment. 
Another amazingly simple app that does only one thing really well... track your egg count and any purchases so you have a bottom line cost-per-egg. L.O.V.E. it!! Would be awesome if they made one for milking goats!

If you're a new chicken owner, those eggs may be very pricy and you don't want to go showing the bottom line to just anyone! But over time, you'll see your investment pay off. And that's encouraging.

Also, this will help you set prices if you want to sell your eggs. I opted not to include my housing, but I do include the feed, new chicks, and the occasional "necessary"purchases.

4. Rain Harvest Calculator. 
I'm interested in rain water catchment and this little app will help me determine how much water I can anticipate from each rooftop collection site. The app includes the formula should you want to do your own, but it will make those calcs for you in US or Metric volumes.

For example, if you wanted to install a system on your chicken coop to water your own flock from rainwater, you could calculate that before hand to know what size storage containers to have on hand for all that water!

I know there a lot more out there, so please share one you really like. This is an on-line community and we can all benefit from great information shared among friends. Hope these make your work just a wee bit easier and more efficient!


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