By Tracey Dowdy
Based on the amount of rain beating down outside my window, I think it’s safe to say Spring is on its way. And, thoughts of Spring mean gardening is on my mind, and I’m planning out what will go in my little backyard plot.
Along with the usual gardening spades, shovels, and other supplies, I’ve added Alexa to my toolbox. You may be surprised at how useful it can be.
As the song says, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Alexa’s “Beginners Gardening” skill is free and takes you step by step through planting your own garden. Even if you have never grown anything before, Alexa can walk you through everything from preparing the soil to what plants will thrive in your geographic area. In the words of one reviewer, “For those of us who are totally clueless about gardening this is a great skill to start with. It gives basics and walks you through step by step. Lots of information here.”
It may be obvious, but Alexa’s weather skill will come in very handy once your seeds or plants are in the ground. Living in Northern Virginia, it’s not unusual to experience all four seasons in a week, especially throughout the Spring. I use Big Sky to keep track of unexpected frost or a particularly hot day, outside normal weather patterns. Premium users can schedule weather alerts, and Alexa will notify you of events like temperatures above 90F, below freezing, heavy winds.
Speaking of alerts, as someone whose system of benign neglect works wonders with my succulents, having Alexa remind me to water my plants is quite useful, particularly throughout the hot and dry summer months. You can be as specific as you like. Just say something like, “Alexa, set a reminder to water the lettuce at 6 a.m.” At 6 a.m. the next day, Alexa will light up with a notification, and you’ll receive a push notification on your phone reminding you to water your lettuce. If you’ve planted a variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you can create a calendar to monitor each plant and then link it to Alexa. That way, when you ask for a Flash Briefing or say, “Alexa, my schedule,” Alexa let you know if it’s time to water any of your plants.
Or, you could skip the reminder and connect Alexa to a smart home sprinkler system like the Rachio 3 WiFi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller, or RainMachine Touch. Both integrate seamlessly with Alexa and allow you to control the sprinklers with a voice command. You can be as specific as you like – “Alexa, turn on all the sprinklers,” or, “Alexa, turn on the sprinklers in Zone 1 for six minutes.”
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.