Cook What You Grow With iPad — Gardening and Cooking Fresh Goes Digital

Like the song says, “Only two things that money can’t buy / That’s true love & homegrown tomatoes.” Add the iPad to this equation and a good thing only gets better.

The iPad can help you plan, sow, grow, harvest, cook, and — best of all — EAT what you grow. Gardening with iPad is the ultimate juxtaposition of high and low tech.

There’s only one snag in our scenario: most gardening apps aren’t up to snuff. Whether you grow perennials, vegetables, or focus on landscaping plants like trees and shrubs, developers have yet to give users a gold standard, must-own app.

In the mean time, while we’re stuck checking Dave’s Garden on mobile Safari, a gardener’s best bet for green thumb apps is to focus on free gardening apps.

Gardening How-To is a free iPad gardening magazine created by the National Home Gardening Club. After picking up the app from the App store, the reader can download six free issues of the magazine. Gardening How-To is a general purpose gardening mag, with stories on everything from peonies and perennial hibiscus, to deck design, to growing watermelon and blueberries. At around 85 MB per issue, a gardener can download and peruse every issue without clogging her iPad or spending a penny.

Vegetable Planting Calendar helps the backyard farmer grow practically anything. From Amaranth to Yams, with a lot of choices in between — Vegetable Planting Calendar is a wonderful resource. Though the app’s UI is rather spartan, and the user must contend with small banner ads, Vegetable Planning Calendar is practical and helpful. Whether you want to grow specialized crops such as fiddleheads or okra, or plan to stick to garden stand-bys such as tomatoes and zucchini, this app has everything you need to get started.

Now that you’ve planted and tended your garden, it’s time to eat!

Quick & Healthy — Easy Recipes for Diabetics deserves a place on every health-conscious cook’s iPad. While the recipes are aimed at folks with diabetes, the focus on fresh, whole food will benefit anyone who wants to eat more healthful meals. There are more than 100 recipes to choose from, so get cooking! Download Quick & Healthy — Easy Recipes for Diabetics from the app store for $4.99. See our full review here.

While Paprika is only as healthy as the recipes the cook adds to this well-designed recipe manager, it offers access to websites for Cooking Light and Eating Well through its built-in browser. There is no better way to get fresh, healthy food on the table than to search out recipes through Paprika, then save them to your iPad with a few taps. Wondering what to do with all that home grown eggplant? Spend a few minutes perusing Paprika’s bookmarked sites and find there’s much more to the aubergine than cheesy, oily eggplant parm. Download Paprika from the App Store for $4.99.

If you’ve never really practiced veggie-focused cooking, than Mark Bittman’s remarkable How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a must-own app. Thanks to its instructive nature, Bittman’s comprehensive look at cooking without meat is a perfect choice for any home cook who isn’t quite sure what to do with all those veggies come harvest time. Despite the title, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is not just for diners who eschew meat, it’s for anyone who wants to increase the proportion of plant-based foods in her diet. Download How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (universal) from the App Store for $9.99.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user ell brown]

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite