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High-tech help for gardeners

The future is knocking at the door of home gardening. And, if some do-it-yourselfers have their way, there is no aspect of nature that can't be improved with a rechargeable motor and a sensor or two.

Take, for example, the VegiBee. Bill Whaley, a former department store executive living in St. Louis, said he invented the device after a disappointing tomato yield.

Whaley concluded that the problem was pollination, and quickly set out to improve on the bees, which were clearly remiss. Looking a little like an electric toothbrush, the VegiBee's wand is held close to a flower on a tomato plant. The tiny vibrations — 44,000 a minute — gently shake the pollen into the plastic spoon that comes with the package. You dip the female part of another flower into the pollen. Vibrate, dip, repeat.

Whaley said his harvest increased 38 percent and he recently put a rechargeable model on the market for $50.

The Rapitest 4-Way Analyzer not only measures moisture and pH levels, but also determines whether to add fertilizer and what the sunlight level is in a particular spot in the garden. It's about $30.

Botanicalls, a collaboration among artists and technologists, has designed a do-it-yourself kit with a sensor that goes into the dirt to measure moisture. When it gets too dry, the plant posts, "Water me please." The kit is for sale at botanicalls.com/buy/ for $100.

New York Times

High-tech help for gardeners 05/05/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 5, 2013 6:18pm]

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