The beds are cleared, and the garden's going to bed for the winter. It's the perfect time to cuddle up with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and thumb through some high-tech gardening apps. Here are five recent favorites (all are available in the iTunes app store and are compatible with the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad):
EDEN GARDEN DESIGNER (99 cents)
Forget graph paper and pencil. With this app, you simply take a photo of your garden-to-be and select from a library of plant images to populate it. Not sure what you want? You can get plant suggestions by searching by height, zone, color, bloom season or sun exposure. You'll even get to see what the garden will look like in every season. Plus, it's fun: The app is fully animated, so you'll see plants wave in the wind and bees buzzing about, and Adam and Eve help you determine scale. The only downside is that the plant library is small, but as of this writing, the company has submitted an update that includes 100 extra plants that will be hosted on its own server in the near future.
LANDSCAPER'S COMPANION ($4.99)
This reference app includes profiles of nearly 1,500 (and counting) annuals, bulbs, perennials, ground covers, vegetables, herbs, houseplants, water plants, trees and shrubs, along with the growing requirements for each and general information such as sun exposure, water needs and mature height and width. And it's all supplemented by more than 5,700 web images. You can search by common or scientific name, sun exposure, horticultural zone and water needs, and keep notes about your favorite plants. True to its name, this one would be as valuable to a professional landscaper as to a novice gardener.
iGARDEN USA ($4.99)
This app not only recommends vegetable planting dates for your zone, it also allows you to track the garden's progress and provides harvesting dates based on whether you started from seeds or transplants. Each vegetable, herb and fruit profile includes planting details, including optimum soil pH levels, depth, seed and row spacing for each plant, as well as information about pests and suitable plant companions.
VEGETABLE GARDENING GUIDE ($2.99)
This full-service app will guide you from seed to table as it provides informative how-tos on everything from planting vegetables to installing a drip irrigation system, and provides recipes complete with nutritional information for your harvests. Just look up a plant and search for different varieties, care requirements, potential problems and more, all provided in large, easy-to-read font.
MASTER GARDENER ($3.99)
No more missing scraps of paper, this app brings the garden journal into the 21st century - with the convenience of having it with you in the event of an impulsive nursery visit. Start by using the built-in database of 30,000 plant profiles from the USDA (and access to Wikipedia for more) to create and populate a garden space. Then, keep track of chores, plug in time-stamped journal entries and use the wizard function to modify plants and track your garden's progress. The app doesn't include any pictures, which would make it slower and more costly, but hooks you up with Google images and allows you to add your own plant photos.