As a new homeowner, establishing a backyard vegetable garden has been a big priority for my family since day one.

The fact that said home is located in the searing heart of the Sonoran Desert didn’t deter me from carefully designing and building a few raised beds, hanging custom trellises, bringing in a mixture of compost and soil, and providing automatic irrigation to the whole setup. The environment did, however, seem to deter our vegetables from growing properly! Not only do the deserts of Arizona reach ridiculously high temperatures each summer, but our soil composition swings from rocky aggregate to solid clay, neither of which are great for growing. To add insult to injury, even our water supply works against the would-be gardener: our water is more alkaline and salty than most vegetables like. In the end, while we have managed to sprout a good variety of fruits & vegetables (they last a few weeks), our hard work has yielded little more than a few cucumbers and green onions.

I am a major nerd, though, and plan to enlist the powers of technology to make our fruitful garden dreams a reality. Ideally, I would like to track a few key metrics across each raised bed and garden plot: soil pH, salinity, moisture, and temperature. I can measure each individually with a handful of sometimes expensive tools or take soil samples to be tested by a lab, but I can’t help but feel that gardeners would be better served with a more permanent solution. There are a few commercially-available smart gardening sensors out there like the Edyn Garden Sensor and the Parrot Flower Power that rely on WiFi or Bluetooth for connectivity, but connecting a smart device to your home WiFi network can be a struggle, and Bluetooth has real range limitations.

Building an RPMA smart gardening solution seems like an insanely great proposition. The sensors themselves aren’t particularly hard to integrate, and RPMA communication modules provide excellent battery life. Plus, since the RPMA-powered Machine Network is a professionally managed public network, users can activate their devices out of the box and place it anywhere on their property. That’s practically zero configuration needed! Tie your cloud platform into a service like IFTTT, and you’d be able to create some pretty stellar home automation sequences, like activating smart irrigation systems when conditions are too dry, or making a Philips Hue bulb shift to blue to show that all is well in your garden.

I have access to an RPMA DevKit and a handful of sensors, and sometimes I appear to know how to use them! With the Machine Network fully deployed in my neck of the woods, I think I may put together a proof of concept in time for our first early spring harvest. Wish me luck!