Smartphone applications can save a lot of digging
As smartphones keep getting faster, smaller and loaded with more features, there's something in it for gardeners: more than a hundred software programs, or applications.
Gardening apps aim to help with everything from locating supplies to fending off mosquitoes to converting cell phones into flashlights. Some are offered free, but most cost a one-time fee for downloading into your handset.
Here are some useful gardening programs available online. Not every app remains long on virtual shelves or operates with every phone, so check for availability and compatibility before ordering.
•"Pocket Garden" (iPhone, 99 cents) - Contains pictures and advice about growing hundreds of plants, most of them vegetables. You also can jot down notes about seeds and plants in a handy "My Garden" section.
•"Flowers Guide" (iPhone, $1.99) - Alphabetical database of 55 flowers with photos, botanical name, origins and descriptions, growing requirements, planting and bloom times.
•"Botanical Interests" (iPhone, $5.99) - Botanical Interests, an online seed company, offers tips about growing vegetables, and a primer on seed starting, soil preparation, attracting pollinators, plant histories and much more.
•"Botanica" (Android, free) - Pairs plants with hardiness zones, provides space for photos and journal entries. It also issues alerts telling you when it's time to water.
For utility (how-to, when-to):
•"Garden ToDo" (iPhone, $1.99) - Organizes yard tasks. Enter a list of your plants or planting sites and the app will tell you when to prune, mow, fertilize, divide and harvest, among other chores.
•"Landscaper's Companion" (Android, $6.99) - Useful for information gathering, selecting plants or simply gazing at pictures of trees and shrubs, flowers and vegetables. Comes with cultivation tips, water usage, plant size at maturity and sun requirements.
Other noteworthy apps:
•"Garden Supplies Store Finder" (iPhone, 99 cents) - One click gives you the directions or a map to the nearest home and garden store.
•"Repel Mosquito" (iPhone, 99 cents) - Developers claim it transmits a sound frequency "unbearable" to bloodsucking mosquitoes.
•"myLite" Flashlight (iPhone, free) - Work late in the garden- Here's an app for converting your iPhone screen into a flashlight. It also adjusts for brightness, provides some different preset colors and includes a strobe.
•"London: Kew Gardens Guide and Audio" (iPhone, $4.99) - Continue gathering gardening ideas long after the growing season is over by signing up for virtual visits. This Kew Gardens app displays spectacular plants in gorgeous settings, with iconic buildings and an hourlong soundtrack.