PDA – Used for Gardening

Note: this was written in 2003…long before smartphones became so ubiquitous!)

The local garden club came to visit last week. We all had a fine time talking with each other and tasting the potluck dishes each person had brought.

“Watch Molly Wilson’s cheese muffins.” Joyce C. whispered to me. “She brought a big pile of them… but they’re so good, by the end of the meeting there won’t be a one left.”

Sure enough, before thirty minutes had passed, only crumbs lay at the bottom of Molly’s basket.

Frances Mary D. broached the subject we were all thinking. “Molly, I have GOT to have the recipe for those cheesy things. They are absolutely addictive!”

“It’s easy,” Molly replied. “Get out a piece of paper and write it down.”

But instead of a piece of paper, Frances Mary whipped out her Palm(tm) personal digital assistant (PDA) and began furiously pecking on it as Molly spoke. Afterwards, I approached Frances Mary. “I like most electronic gadgets,” I told her, “but I’ve never seen the necessity of a PDA. Do you like yours?”

You’d have thought I’d asked if she liked using her legs to walk. “This is my brain!” she blurted. “I organize my entire life with my PDA!”

The emphasis with which she answered took me aback. I’m a heavy-duty user of the Internet and other communications technologies. But no one has ever shown me how a PDA could be useful in the gardening realm.

Sure, it can keep addresses and appointments, but I can do the same in a $5.00 pocket calendar. So what special thing can a PDA do for a gardener, I wondered? What part of its function could make gardening easier?

Can the calendar program be used to remind when to fertilize and apply weed preventer to a lawn? Could some part of it be adapted to note the dates of bloom appearance or pest arrival in a garden? Is there some task I haven’t even imagined that gardeners already find helpful? Is there PDA software specifically for gardeners? Do people truly use it?

Rather than me answering your questions this time, I need you to answer mine. I want you to tell me how you have used one of the modern electronic technologies to make your gardening easier. Even if it’s programming all of your local nursery phone numbers into your cell phone, I want to hear about it. Do you have a set of gardening songs for your MP3 player?

But most importantly, let me first share Molly’s cheese muffin recipe.

2 sticks of very soft (almost melted) butter
1 cup of sour cream
2 cups of self-rising flour
2 cups of sharp cheese

Add ingredients in order, hand-stirring after each one, in a big bowl. Spoon into muffin cups, three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees 15 – 20 minutes or until the tops are brown. Make four times as many as you have guests coming.

You have now three ways to save this recipe: you can tear it out of the newspaper; you can hand copy it onto a recipe card or you can go to www.ajc.com and save it to your computer. Use whichever technology appeals to you.

My dad gardened with my mother’s small Allis-Chalmers tractor for fifty years. Even though it had no hydraulic lift and started with a hand crank, he knew from experience it was a better technology than mule power. Progress presents us with new tools, whether mechanical or electronic. How, and if, we use technology is up to the individual – – but having different tools to accomplish a task, even in the garden, always makes for an easier life.