FarmQA, Farm with control.

How I Used Scouting as a New Gardener

Jennifer Pfau

Director of Operations

Photo of Basil

The FarmQA Scouting App is intended to be a digital tool for agronomists. Because it is so flexible, I decided to document my journey as a new gardener. As any grower knows, there is a thrill in seeing seeds emerge into new life and I captured my new 'quarantine' hobby with the FarmQA Scouting App.

Time On My Hands

My new normal with the quarantine meant more time to cook and I love the taste of fresh cilantro and parsley, so I started with an all-included indoor herb kit and grow light with the intention of having fresh herbs.

For the experienced growers and agronomists reading this, bear with me. I was green to all things green. The herb kit came with dehydrated, compressed seed pellets of peat and coconut coir that grew into soil with water - hello Jetsons! Maybe not, I see online that these have been around a while.

This is a FarmQA screenshot of how I am documenting some notes along my journey. This is a report generated from an observation I entered today and a photo of my dill.

You Don’t Have To Be An Agronomist

As I mentioned, FarmQA Scouting is intended for agronomists, but the template can be tailored to any information that you want to collect. In my case, I kept it simple and captured all of the herbs with the same plant date in a single template.

With the excitement of the seedlings emerging, I wanted more, and I decided with some additional time on my hands that I could handle tomatoes and sweet peppers. I also naively grabbed a strawberry grower kit. I later learned that strawberries from seeds can be tricky, but it is still early enough to be hopeful…

Another brief example of a FarmQA Scouting report regarding strawberries

After a bit of reading, I realized I started more tomatoes than I have space for. I started 14 seedlings and they should be spaced 4 feet apart.

Here you see my starter tomatoes and a bit of the protective cage I have them in. They look like they are in jail behind a wire shelving unit to protect them from fumbled footballs and a rambunctious, curious puppy.

Building a Raised Bed

I will be building a 3 x 6 ft. raised bed outdoors and I will test out a tighter space for eight plants. I watched a YouTube video on building a raised bed, so now as an expert, I went to Menards. This is my quarantine hobby, but I have no hesitation in asking for assistance. I knew the dimensions, and I had a concise shopping list, and absolutely no idea where to go in the store. I eventually found the lumber counter and in return got a printout showing what I needed to pick up outside. What?! Just then my well-timed husband showed up as I had asked him to transport the 2 x 10s and 2 x 4s in his truck - those are two nouns I don't use every day. I will spare you the details but finding your own lumber pickup is crazy from a first-timer’s perspective.

Here is a photo showing the sweet pepper growing progress.

Getting Ready for the Outdoors

At the end of April, I transplanted the sweet peppers into 3-gallon pots that will find southern exposure when it is safe to go out. Now they are by a window and seem to be progressing. They look like they are in jail behind a wire shelving unit to protect them from fumbled footballs and a rambunctious, curious puppy. Our temperatures are finally above freezing, so more to come later when my garden babies go outside.

FarmQA: Built for Ease-of-use and Flexibility

Here’s what my gardening experiment confirmed: our app is simple to use, customizable to meet any crop needs—from alfalfa to zucchini. Or, as in my case dill, strawberries and tomatoes. Progress tracking and reporting is helpful for looking back and planning ahead. The final screenshot shows the initial reports I entered today and they will expand through the growing season. Then I will be able to toggle through the reports and photos to see the progress. As a new gardener, I will be adding lessons learned and when I flip through this next year, it will help me to plan and allow me to leverage the lessons that I learned. While this might be more than a gardener needs, as an agronomist providing services to growers, you can see where this can be helpful.

The final screenshot shows the initial reports that I entered

Now, bring on the growing degree days!


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