How to garden better | IoT powered soil moisture sensor
April 18, 2022 by Rich Kurtzman, Brand Communications @ Fathym
April showers bring May flowers, or so the rhyme goes.
And as we find ourselves in the middle of April, with wildflowers beginning to emerge from their winter slumber, we present you with this spring poem:
Bees dance on flower tips,
Outside my window,
As spring unfolds,
My love for Earth grows.
Wind whistles through branches
Stray leaves do little dances
Life renews, plants are reborn
To stay in spring,
I deeply yearn.
- By Rich Kurtzman
Spring is an exciting time, especially when you live in a place that enjoys all four seasons. That much is true here in Colorado, where we had a somewhat mild winter, but it’s still one of the most exciting times of year. Temperatures are increasing, the birds and bees are fluttering around and that means it’s time to start thinking about gardening plans.
If you haven’t tried growing your own food, it’s never too late to start. And there are so many reasons why everyone should grow a garden.
First and foremost, it gets us closer to the actual food we consume on a daily basis. In 2022, most of us are lucky enough to walk or drive to the local grocery store and buy basically any kind of produce we want. The abundance of food also leads to us tossing scraps at the end of meals. But when you grow your own, you’re more likely to cherish every, little bit of every piece of food you raised.
Next, growing a garden is good for the environment! That’s true both on an economic and personal level. Factory farms are tough on the soil they grow in, and they pollute a great deal, too. On a personal level, they’re beautiful to look at and improve your backyard’s feel. Plus, it’s an accomplishment.
Finally, gardening saves money on grocery bills in the late summer/fall.
How to grow better
No matter if it’s your first or 10th garden, there are ways to improve.
And while at its core, gardening is one of the simplest things people can do – planting seeds in the dirt and watching them grow – one way to improve your growing efforts is by turning to high-tech gadgets.
There are a litany of options out there, but the one we’re going to focus on today is a soil moisture sensor.
Soil moisture sensor
A soil moisture sensor is one of the most important pieces of tech you can buy for a garden.
There are four crucial factors to growing food: Water, temperature, light and nutrients.
Nutrients should be the first thing done at the beginning of the year, in the early spring. That means buying compost – mushroom compost, or another blend of your choice – and amending the soil. Simply, it’s mixing the nutrients into the soil so your plants have all the food they need to grow big and strong.
Then, there are the other three factors which you’ll be worrying about all year.
You want enough light, but not too much that it raises the temperature and dries out your soil.
And to make sure your soil doesn’t start looking like a desert, that’s where the soil moisture sensor comes into play.
There are a ton of different soil moisture sensors available, but for this case we’re going to use SparkFun’s soil moisture sensor.
SparkFun is a Boulder-based company just like us at Fathym, and they make great products.
They have multiple versions, including just the sensor alone ($6.50), one with screw terminals ($7.50) and one with their Qwiic connector ($9.50).
The Qwiic connector version is really convenient because the user can connect multiple sensors in a daisy chain to one computer. And for that computer, we’re using the SparkFun Thing Plus ($22.50).
So, all the user really needs is: A USB power connector, the Sparkfun Thing Plus, the soil moisture sensor and some Qwiic connect wires.
For all around $40, anyone could easily have this setup for their own garden.
But, how can you read the data?
By using your SparkFun Thing’s WiFi connectability, you can easily transfer all that data anywhere you’d like. We suggest using IoT Ensemble.
IoT Ensemble is an easy and free platform which helps compile data.
Then, you can build a Power BI Report, and create a dashboard and/or website for free at Fathym.com. Display that data however you’d like to. It’s really that simple.
Here's how that can look:
Read how to connect your devices to IoT Ensemble here.
Watch how to setup your own IoT Ensemble account and get running today here.
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