The Verge’s favorite gardening gadgets
11 mins read

The Verge’s favorite gardening gadgets


We know how much you’ll miss the icy streets, freezing temperatures, and misbehaving radiators that the winter season brings, but spring is right around the corner, which means that while you no longer have to worry about shoveling snow off your driveway, it is time to start thinking about plants — whether it’s in your garden or on your windowsill. We asked the staff members of The Verge what they are planning to grow over the coming spring and summer months and how they are planning to care for those flowers, vegetables, and other flora. Here’s what they told us about starting new plants and caring for the seedlings — although some are using rather unusual gardening tools.

Rare heirloom seeds

Photo of cucumbers alongside a leaf and flower.

$4

According to the Kitazawa Seed Co., these plants are originally from China and became extremely popular in Tokyo during the 1930s for its trellis climbing; it retains great flavor even when it grows large.

There are some fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you grow up with but are impossible to find at typical American grocery stores. For me, it was Japanese cucumbers: thin, long, and excellent for pickles. They’re the ideal snack in the summer when it’s so hot you can barely think, much less cook.

Last year, I purchased tokiwa cucumber seeds from the Kitazawa Seed Co., one of the oldest seed companies in the US. Founded in San Jose in 1917, the Japanese-American Kitazawa family specialized in Asian seeds until 1942, when they — along with all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast — were forcibly removed and incarcerated in camps during World War II. The family could only take with them what they could carry and had to sell their seed stock when they were sent to Wyoming. It’s a miracle the company still exists more than 100 years after its founding. And the cucumbers I grew last summer were sweet and slightly crisp, a small gift of coolness in the middle of July — just as I remember.

Make mine microgreen

Hand touching small green plants in a white ceramic planter.

This microgarden kit includes broccoli seeds, kale seeds, kohlrabi seeds, and cabbage seeds, along with a ceramic planter.

If you don’t have much space in your yard but still want to grow your own veggies, check out the Back to the Roots Microgreens Grow Kit. It comes with a ceramic planter, dehydrated dirt disks, and the seeds you’ll need to grow a bundle of veggies from a sunny window inside your home. This particular kit comes with a mix of broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, and cabbage seeds that you can put on your salad or sandwich — and these little veggies grow fast. When I tried the kit, they started to sprout in just a couple of days. 

It was kind of fun to check on their progress until they were ready to harvest, which took about a week. For such little vegetables, they pack a noticeably savory flavor, similar to what you might taste when eating arugula (but not as spicy). The best part is that you can continuously grow them. Once you’re done harvesting, just put some new dirt and seeds in the container and start the process all over again.

An app for plant care

Screenshot of plant.

$37

A free app for iOS and Android that will help you keep your plants waters and healthy. Premium version is $7.99 a month or $36.99 a year.

The pandemic made me a plant mom. Trapped in an apartment with three roommates, we wanted to bring the outside inside and amassed a huge collection between us. But as the world slowly opened up and we all separately moved out, it was harder to remember if I’d watered my jungle monstera this week or last week. Enter Planta, an app that lets users set care schedules for their plants and get access to “plant doctors” if they run into issues. There’s a free version, but I gladly fork over $7.99 a month to get reminders for watering, misting, repotting, and even making progress reports. I chatted with a plant doctor when my beloved, dramatic Fittonia and Marble Queen Pothos showed signs of struggle (they both eventually went back to the earth from whence they came). I could gauge the light coming into my new apartment to figure out the proper placement for my plants. While it’s still better to use a stick or your finger to measure soil dampness, Planta reminds me that I am a plant parent, and I should check on my children more often than I did before. 

Keep your grass green

Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, smart home reporter

Rachio sprinker controller, a boxy object that’s white with a blue streak running through it lengthwise, and a phone with the app on it.

Reliably adjusts irrigation systems to not run before, during, or after a rainstorm, even adapting based on the amount of rain that falls, using a Wi-Fi-connected system. Can handle four, eight, and 16 zones.

Don’t you hate it when you come home during a rainstorm and your sprinklers are running? What a waste of water! With a smart sprinkler controller, you can avoid this kind of insult to Mother Earth. I’ve used a Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller for a few years now, and it reliably adjusts my irrigation system to not run before, during, or after a rainstorm, even adapting based on the amount of rain that falls. The Wi-Fi-connected system uses local weather data, so I do have to keep an eye on it; if the forecast calls for an inch of rain but we only get a sprinkle, my garden might go thirsty. But its easy-to-use app makes this adjustment something I can do from the comfort of my couch. It’s a lot like using a smart thermostat and just as satisfying in terms of feeling good about saving precious resources (and money).

Sticky bug traps 

Victoria Song, senior reviewer

Plant with two yellow traps in the shape of butterflies stuck into the dirt.

$10

Uses bright yellow coloring and sticky glue to catch nasty little pests. You can buy them in various quantities.

At my last apartment, I kept all my plants in the windowsill. Unfortunately, we were on the ground floor, there were bushes outside, and whenever my spouse opened the window for some fresh air, we got fungus gnats. 

First, I tried neem oil and diatomaceous earth, but they were stinky and didn’t work well. You know what did? Good ole sticky bug traps. Push ’em into the pot and watch in fascinated disgust as it catches all of the nasty critters. (Just be careful if you have cats or other curious pets — one of my cats had a small bald patch on his butt for a week after a trap got stuck on him.) They’re also cheap at around $10 for 200 traps and are handy in the summer if you’ve got a pesky house or fruit fly situation.

Metering your moisture

Victoria Song, senior reviewer

Green moisture meter stuck in the soil of a potted plant.

Quickly tests the soil moisture for indoor and outdoor plants.

Fungus gnats also love overwatered soil, so once you’ve gotten rid of them, you’ve got to be careful and diligent about your watering schedule. For that, I got myself a Gouevn soil moisture meter to teach myself how to properly water my plants. I’ve properly vanquished my fungus gnat issue, but with these two tools, I’m always prepared in case there’s ever another infestation.

Velcro for your plants

Roll of green Velcro garden ties next to grapevine.

Velcro brand garden ties keeps flowers and plants staked, supported, and securely bundled together.

One day, I received a surprise package in the mail from my mom, and it included these Velcro garden ties. I’d never even seen these before, so I decided to try them with my orchid. I found that they’re a lot softer than the plastic ties I used previously, and they do a pretty good job at supporting my plants, both indoor and outdoor. You can simply cut the Velcro ties to size, wrap them around your plant, and the tie will stick to itself. They’re reusable, too!

Pink flamingos

Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor

Two plastic pink flamingos on a green lawn.

$17

Three medium-sized, happy plastic pink flamingos on metal legs that also work as stakes.

Some years ago, my partner and I went to a tech trade show that was Florida-themed, so the large room was decorated with fake palm trees, hanging fish mobiles, and pink plastic flamingos — those straight-from-the-’50s ones. When the show was over and we were leaving, we found a bunch of the birds piled near the exit. One of the staffers who was cleaning up begged us to take as many as we wanted. They’d bought them for the show and had no idea what to do with them now.

We took home two of the pink flamingos and set them up in our tiny garden. They were meant to be a temporary joke, but those flamingos have been standing guard in front of our home ever since. It turned out that they are actually incredibly useful for guiding guests and delivery people to our house — all we have to do is tell them to “look for the pink flamingos.”

Electric gooseneck kettle

Becca Farsace, senior producer

Black gooseneck electric kettle on a table, a pot of coffee in the background.

An elegant electric gooseneck kettle with a 0.8 liter / 27 ounce capacity.

Okay, hear me out! Watering cans take up too much space, and single-use gadgets are a waste of money. So ever since I got overly involved in my coffee routine, I have been watering my indoor plants with the Aroma Housewares Professional electric kettle (this one is, sadly, no longer sold, but any similar kettle will do). The gooseneck is perfect for making it over the ridge of a pot, the spout is small so it allows for control over where the water is falling, and the handle makes it feel just like a watering can. Plus, it sits on my counter looking pretty, right next to my faucet where I need to fill it up. So instead of buying a kettle with an open mouth spout, just buy one with a gooseneck and bada bing — you got a two-in-one gadget. Just make sure it has cooled down before you start watering!



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