A Pillbox Relaxes Me
A little blue pillbox has solved my sleep problems.
I’ve touted the abundance of fresh figs I gather in summer and fall from my greenhouse, and the salad greens in winter. Not to mention the transplants for the garden in spring and summer.
All this has come at a price: sleep. In winter I often worry that something will go awry with the heater that keeps greenhouse temperatures from dropping below freezing, threatening the life of the in-ground fig trees and the salad greens.
And things have occasionally gone awry. One winter, the gas company didn’t deliver the gas for the propane heater on time. Another winter the pilot light kept going out on the heater. Another winter there was an interruption in electrical service, just a small amount of which is needed for the thermostat.
From the warmth of my home, how could I know if my plants were suffering so that I could take action? I set up a remote monitor with a secondary thermostat and a light bulb; if the greenhouse temperature drops below 35° F., I know it because the light goes on. Of course, I have to look outside at the greenhouse occasionally. And if I’m in bed on some cold winter night . . . a bicycle mirror mounted on the window lets me know if the light is on without my even having to lift my head. Of course, all bets if I am asleep, or if electrical service is interrupted.
Which brings me back to the blue pillbox. It’s filled with electronics, not pills.
This device, sold as SensorPush, hangs on a nail in my greenhouse and continuously records temperature and humidity therein. No need for me to go to the greenhouse to communicate with it, though. It beams the information via bluetooth to my smartphone.
Better still, I can retrieve the information if my phone is beyond the approximately 325 foot bluetooth range with the help of the SensorPush Gateway. The Gateway connects via wi-fi to put the temperature and humidity information on the web and then on to my smartphone. From anywhere that I have cell service.
And even better, SensorPush can also alert my smartphone (and, hence, me) should the greenhouse temperature ever drop below (or above) whatever low (or high point) I set it at. The Gateway does require electricity. But Central Hudson has an alert feature to notify me, again via my increasingly smart smartphone, if the electrical service has been interrupted.
Checking Out the Weather, Continuously
I’m going to get another SensorPush to hang outdoors on one of the garden fenceposts. Knowing temperatures and humidity out in the garden is very useful to anyone who grows tree fruits.
Spring frosts threaten blossoms of fruit trees that bloom early in the season. Most threatened are apricots and peaches, but a season’s crop of apples, pears, cherries, or plums could also be snuffed out by a dramatic drop temperature. Just how much cold kills these blossoms depends on the kind of fruit and the stage of blossoming. For instance, when apricot flower buds have just begun to swell and separate, they’ll laugh off cold down to zero degrees F. Once the petals begin to spread, the buds are killed at 19°F. When petals fall, 24° is lethal.
So a SensorPush out in the garden would at the very least tell me whether to expect a crop from any of these tree fruits. Or to take action, like running outside to drape a blanket over a tree.
Knowing temperature and humidity can also predict the likelihood of disease. The spores of brown rot disease of plums, for instance, grow best in rainy weather with temperatures in the mid-70s during bloom or as fruit is ripening. Longer periods of wetness are needed at lower temperatures. Once again, such information can be used for prediction or action, in the latter case a preventative spray of sulfur, for example. (Sulfur, a naturally mined mineral, is an organically approved fungicide.)
A final nice feature of SensorPush is that it keeps records of the data it collects. The graphs it generates can be viewed on my smartphone or downloaded to a computer.
Now . . . if only I had an expensive art collection, a wine cellar, a reptile cage, or something else that needed close monitoring of temperature and humidity, I could justify another SensorPush.
Okay, now I’m going back to sleep, soundly.