July 11, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
July 11, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Tech Guy in the Garden

As I sit here writing “Ungarbled Tech,” it strikes me that this summer marks the 10th anniversary of my journey to harmonize my tech-savvy lifestyle with the simplicity and beauty of nature. Every summer, I try to write about tech and my newfound love for gardening. For over a decade, I’ve been sharing with you, my fellow soccer moms and hockey dads, the marvels of technology. But today, let me take you on a different kind of journey—one that started with an ambitious click on the internet and blossomed into a lush, green sanctuary right in my own backyard.

A decade ago I decided to bring the wonders of technology into my garden. It started when I ordered something online called zoysiagrass. On my way to the Chabad of Teaneck, where I’ve been blessed to be the gabbai, I walked the length of Cedar Lane. One homeowner was “plugging” what I thought was dead grass. He gave me a quick tutorial on zoysiagrass, which I remembered as there is an “oy” in the name.

For those unfamiliar, zoysiagrass is renowned for its resilience and beauty. I didn’t just stop at ordering the plugs; I went all in and ordered a plugger, too. This wasn’t just any plugger—it was a specialized tool designed to plant the zoysiagrass plugs efficiently. I even had the unique opportunity to test it out with the designer himself. This was my first foray into merging the digital world with the natural one.

Fast forward to today. My garden is a testament to what technology and a bit of dedication can achieve. My zoysiagrass, initially just a few plugs, now carpets my front and back yards. But my journey didn’t stop there. Over the years, I’ve continually expanded my garden, ordering a variety of items online to help cultivate my little slice of Eden. On my 50th birthday, my forever young, beautiful and patient wife Rachi purchased a beginner’s greenhouse for me. It was the summer of COVID, and people came by to get free ice cream from a prepaid ice cream truck. This merged my three favorite things—people, ice cream and gardening.

I now have a very large greenhouse that I ordered from Amazon standing proudly in my backyard. This greenhouse, which I assembled with the help of YouTube tutorials (and a lot of “d’ohs!”), has allowed me to extend my growing season and nurture plants that wouldn’t typically thrive in our local climate. Inside, grow lamps—also purchased online—provide the perfect light conditions for my vegetables. It’s a high-tech haven that helps me grow produce year-round.

The pride and joy of my tech-enhanced garden is not the lawnmower, but the fact that I do my own lawn care. Many people shy away from battery-operated lawnmowers, but after many trials, I found the perfect one on Amazon. Alongside this, I discovered a handheld chainsaw that has become indispensable for my gardening needs. Now, I take care of my own grass, do my own edging, and handle the weeding all by myself. This hands-on approach is something that might surprise those who expect tech guys like me to spend 10 to 12 hours inside. My clients are shocked when they call, and I offer to bring and show young people my gardening passion.

When I first moved into my house, my then-backyard neighbor pointed out that my tree was dying. “Hey, Shneur,” he said, “your tree is dying.” I asked how he knew, and he replied, “There are no leaves on it.” That simple observation sparked my determination to improve my garden. For anyone who thinks that you need to invest a lot of time, yes, I’m a little obsessed, so I probably spend a little more time, but it’s possible to maintain a beautiful garden with a reasonable effort.

My home has been plagued by groundwater issues for years. I’ve received numerous quotes and was often told that installing a sump pump would be costly and inconvenient, with the pump needing to be placed in the middle of the basement. Little did I know, the answer lay in my landscape. My landscaper, whom I don’t use often but greatly respect, pointed out that the groundwater problem had decreased significantly. He explained that by planting all the shrubbery and trees—many of which I started from seedlings—I had unintentionally created a natural solution. This past year, all the vegetables I planted were grown from seeds. It turns out that by adding these trees and plants, I had effectively helped to reduce the groundwater levels. Sometimes, low technology can solve big tech problems.

Every day, after Shacharit, I spend about an hour in my garden. It’s become a ritual, a moment of peace before the chaos of the day begins. I’ve even installed a sprinkler system, another Amazon find, which is entirely battery-operated. This is not easy to find, and I hired a proper landscaper to ensure no water gets sent back into the home and could cause drinking water issues.

Gardening has taught me something fundamentally different from technology. In tech, when we have a problem, we know that eventually, we will get the answer. But with gardening, you can do everything right—provide the perfect water, soil and care—and still, plants might not grow. I’ve literally thrown out what I thought were dying tomato plants, only to turn around two weeks later and find them growing beautifully. There’s no exact science to it. It’s you, water, sun, and God. And that’s what makes gardening so attractive to tech guys like me. It’s the unpredictability and the connection to something larger than ourselves.

My garden is now a sanctuary of vegetables, fruits and vibrant flowers. It’s a testament to what you can achieve with a bit of technological help. The internet has been my greatest ally in this journey, providing not only the tools and equipment but also a wealth of knowledge. From instructional videos to user reviews, the digital world has been an invaluable resource.

What I’ve learned over these 10 years is that technology and nature are not opposing forces. Instead, they can work together harmoniously to create something truly special. My garden is proof of that. It’s a blend of the latest tech and the timeless beauty of nature, a space where I can unwind, connect with the earth, and enjoy the fruits—literally—of my labor.

For those of you who, like me, are tech enthusiasts but haven’t yet ventured into the world of gardening, I encourage you to give it a try. Start small, maybe with a few potted plants or a small patch of grass. Use the internet to your advantage; there’s a wealth of information and products out there to help you. Trust me, the satisfaction you’ll get from seeing your garden grow and flourish is incomparable.

So this summer, as you juggle the demands of work, family and everything in between, consider taking some time to connect with nature. Use the tools and resources at your disposal to create a space where you can relax and recharge. Whether it’s a single pot on your balcony or a sprawling garden in your backyard, let technology be your guide and nature your canvas. Don’t be too engrossed in technology; instead, use it as a means to get out into the garden while the weather’s good. Let your children see you planting and nurturing life. I’ve done it with my family, my nieces and nephews. Even my wife says I’m a little obsessed, but it’s well worth it.

Finally, a special shout out to some local nurseries that have been invaluable on this journey: Victoria’s and Denny Wiggers Garden Center. These places have provided not just plants and tools but also advice and inspiration.

Here’s to another decade of blending technology with the great outdoors, and to many more summers spent basking in the beauty of a tech-enhanced garden. Happy gardening, everyone!

Shneur Garb is the CEO and Founder of the Garb I.T. Cloud group.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles