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July 8, 2014 AT 1:30 am

DIY Garden Monitor With Care Alerts

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DIY Garduino phone uses Twilio, Arduino and Sinatra to monitor your garden and send alerts for better care. via twilio

A few months back I built some raised beds with the intention of giving my wife and I something to do on the weekends. However two things happened immediately after I built the beds that really hindered my gardening ambitions. First, the garden went totally insane sprouting up 4 foot brussel sprouts, producing more fat beets than Ryan Lewis and in general taking over our whole backyard. Second and more importantly, we had our first child. Needless to say the garden quickly became neglected. Our rock-hard broccoli florets and orange wilting lettuce were obviously under-watered plants. I was letting my garden down even though my friends took to calling me “Farmer Jarod.” It was time to hack this garden and show my plants some love.
The Garduino Phone

My first approach was to scour the internet for an out-of-the-box tutorial. However, I found that most of the solutions out there were either too basic (one sensor/one-way communication), or way over the top (massive clusters of micro-controllers). In the end I wanted a little brain in my garden that would alert me when things got out of hand, as well as respond to my inquiries when I’m out of town and need to check the health of things. So I decided to build this little “Garduino Phone” and put it inside of an old rotary telephone that I bought for $3 at a yard sale.
Here’s what you need to understand before you build a garden monitor. In San Diego we get frosty nights and blistering summer days which can kill my cold crops (brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc). Even warm crops like corn and onion don’t like soil that ever gets above 90 degrees, and this is a real possibility in San Diego. So our garden needed to have a moisture sensor and a thermo sensor, but if you are building this for indoor use you could probably skip the thermo sensor. Also if you are building an indoor garden you should check out this post on a self-watering plant using Arduino.
My ideal garden phone would work like so:

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Full tutorial


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