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How to garden better with a UV light sensor

June 16, 2022 by Rich Kurtzman, Brand Communications @ Fathym

April showers bring May flowers, or so the rhyme goes. While it was a dry April in Colorado, it surely was a wet May, helping everything come alive in rebirth.

And as we find ourselves now in the middle of June, with wildflowers in full bloom, 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.

Why Garden?

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 UV light sensor.

UV light sensor

In our previous post about IoT gardening, we talked about a soil moisture sensor. It certainly is one of the most important pieces of tech you can buy for a garden.

Then, we wrote about an environmental sensor which monitors temperature, humidity, air quality and barometric pressure.

And 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 speaking of light, in this piece we talk about attaching a UV light sensor to your IoT garden setup. UVA light is known to boost photosynthesis by 12%. And UV-B light also helps net photosynthesis in some plants meaning knowing how much your plants are getting can help you grow better food this year.

Sensor

There are a ton of different sensors available, but for this case we’re going to use SparkFun’s UV light sensor.

SparkFun is a Boulder-based company just like us at Fathym, and they make great products.

This UV light sensor simply measures both UVA light and UVB radiation and for a mere $7.50.

The Qwiic connector version of the UV sensor is 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, the environmental sensor, this UV sensor and some Qwiic connect wires.

For all around $70, anyone could easily have this setup for their own garden.

But, how can you read the data?

IoT Ensemble

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 host it for free at Fathym.com.

Join Fathym today.