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Edyn smart garden probe review: A promising idea that falls short on delivery

Michael Brown | June 24, 2015
Gardening can be a relaxing experience, especially when you get to sit back and admire the view of an established landscape. But as any experienced gardener will tell you, planting and maintaining a garden can also be exhausting, frustrating, and expensive--especially when things don't go right. You're admiring your beautiful plants on Sunday, and next thing you know, they're yellow, wilted, or dead. The Edyn smart garden system promises to help you take better care of your plants with a probe that monitors your garden's immediate environment, and a water valve that automatically waters your plants when the probe reports they need it. I'll review the probe here; the valve won't be available until later this year.

I assume this wouldn't have happened if I'd also deployed Edyn's smart water valve; but as I said earlier, that product is not yet available. In any event, I turned off the automatic timer in that garden to let the soil dry out a bit. Edyn did a better job measuring humidity. I live in a relatively dry climate, and Edyn's report of 21-percent daytime humidity was pretty close to what the weather app on my phone reported.

Let the sun shine in

Some plants tolerate more sun than others, so Edyn's ability to monitor how much sunlight your plants are getting could give you a clue as to why a particular plant isn't thriving. The probe reports an average lux rating over a 24-hour period, how many hours of daylight your plants got the previous day, and whether that amount of light is adequate for your plant's needs. But the results it reported in my north-side garden were wildly inconsistent. Light was completely off the chart on the app's main screen, and when I drilled down to that segment, it reported that the garden had received 15 hours of sunlight the previous day, and that the average lux rating for the previous 24 hours was 15,116 (on the lux scale, indirect daylight ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 lux).

That seems about right, as it's the middle of June and my garden is in California's central valley. But this information was contradicted by Edyn's message reporting that my north-side garden was "a bit dim," and that my plants "aren't getting enough light. Please find a sunnier spot or supplement your garden with grow lights." Huh? The Edyn folks didn't really answer my question when I asked about this discrepancy in an email. "Plants are affected by both light intensity and duration," they said. "Duration of light (i.e. # of hours of light in the day) triggers flowering. Light intensity affects growth rate. Edyn monitors both of these metrics."

When it came to analyzing my soil's nutrition level, I was pleased to see that Edyn found the north-side garden to be optimal. "Your soil nutrition levels are just about right," the app reported. "Your plants love you." But several days after I stopped watering it--because Edyn had judged it to be soggy--the app did a complete 180 on my nutrition levels. "Your soil's nutrition level is a little high," it now reported. "Try reducing your fertilizer use." I hadn't done anything to my soil, so what changed?

I had the opposite problem with my south-side garden. Edyn reported that it was in dire need of amendment. What kind? Edyn only suggested adding organic fertilizer, nothing more specific. The app "will recommend adding different types of organic fertilizers," the company spokesperson answered in response to my query, "but [it] will not break down specific nutrients. As we get more users, we will offer additional information on nutrient breakdown." The probe is also unable to analyze soil pH, so it won't be able to tell you when your azaleas or rhododendrons need more acid, or if your plants are unable to take up nutrition because the soil is too acidic.

 

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