Essential Apps for Homesteaders | Ultimate Off Grid Apps Review | Off Grid Permaculture
Best Homesteading Apps Iphone Android

Essential Apps for Homesteaders | Ultimate Off Grid Apps Review

December 03, 2020

Daniel Mark Schwartz Profile Picture

While most homesteaders, like me, don’t want to be too reliant on technology, a few great iPhone and Android apps are just too good to pass up. With many homesteaders using a power efficient phone as their primary home computer, these top homesteading apps help you get the info you need and record helpful data fast, so you can get on with enjoying your off grid life.

These are the best off grid, homesteading, and permaculture apps grouped by type.

Homestead News and Information Apps

You need to know a lot to be a good homesteader. Luckily, there are iPhone and Android apps out there to get you the information that you need. Here are some general homesteading information apps that are a must for the homesteader.

Mother Earth News

With more than 50 years in print, Mother Earth News is the king of homesteading magazines. Topics covered include — DIY, organic gardening, homesteading, livestock, real food, natural health, renewable energy, green homes, nature, transportation.

This app lets you access digital version of their bimonthly magazine as well as articles on their website. At the time of writing, individual issues must be purchased for $5.99 to have access, or $15.99 for the most recent installment. However, at only $12.99 for an annual subscription it is well worth paying just over a dollar a month. There are also numerous free articles available on the website portion of the app free of charge.

Homesteading Today

A slick and free interface to the Homesteading Today online forum. The community there is very active, and the boards are filled with almost two decades of homesteading advice and conversation.

The app and forum are completely free. You must register on their website, free of charge, if you would like to post.

Topics discussed include —

  • General Homesteading
  • How-To
  • Livestock
  • Country Homemaking
  • Organic
  • Country Living
  • Real Estate
  • Homestead Construction
  • Hydroponics / Aquaponics
  • Gardening & Plant Propegation
  • Work-at-Home Business
  • Bartering
  • Homeschooling
  • Shop Talk
  • Plant and Tree Identification
  • Home Defense
  • Alternative Energy
  • Alternative Health
  • Hunting, Fishing & Trapping

— and, this is just to name a few.

A nice alternative to Facebook group because it is easier to find what you are looking for. And, it gets you away from the “all seeing eye” of privacy violation that Facebook has become.

Facebook

While I don’t necessarily recommend Facebook as a service, many homesteaders choose to spend there time there. Facebook groups are particularly valuable places to meet like minded people, ask questions, and get snarky answers that are occasionally very helpful.

If you are one who logs on to Facebook now and again, join our group and like our page for riveting off grid homesteading content —

You might also see me commenting on posts on a variety of groups related to —

  • Homesteading
  • Canning
  • Gardening
  • Off Grid Solar
  • Prepping

– and the like.

Type these terms in the search Facebook search bar to see some of the currently largest and most active groups.

Gardening Apps

Planting a garden can be a big administrative task. Choosing the right plants. Deciding when to plant and harvest. Making sure you get the seeds planted on time. Here are some great apps that put all the information you need at your fingertips, and help record your gardening success at the same time.

From Seed to Spoon

A very impressive app designed and created by fellow homesteaders. This is an amazingly complete app. At it’s heart it is gardening reference guide with complete information what appears to be more than 100 common garden crops. Each entry has planting dates; sun, soil, & spacing requirements; watering; & fertilizing. They also have fairly unique information like recipes and health benefits for each plant.

The app also has information on —

  • Beneficial and pest bugs you might encounter
  • Weather in your area
  • Videos from the Seed to Spoon YouTube channel
  • Informational articles from the Seed to Spoon website
  • Recommended gardening equipment, supplements, and supplies

Right now there is also an experimental feature called “Garden +,” marked as a future subscription product, that allows you to get alerts for key planting dates and harvest dates for varieties you are growing. In addition you can track your planting and harvest year to year, get garden related weather alerts, and get estimated growing times and harvest quantities for the gardens you are planning to plant next year.

Besides the future paid features of “Garden +,” which have no listed price at the moment, this app is entirely free. It appears that the homesteaders who made it only collect commissions on items sold through the app, as suggested gardening equipment.

If you are serious about growing your own food, and not interested in flipping through pages and pages of gardening guides, this a great app to have.

Grow Your Own

A neat little garden planning and crop information app. Helps recommend vegetable varieties based on your garden space and needs. Add plants you like to your virtual garden, and the app will remind you of recommended planting, transplanting, and harvesting times. Tap on a plant to get information about how to plant, spacing, preferred soil condition, and common diseases and mistakes to avoid.

This is a totally free app, although they have an integrated seed ordering system, which seems to only work for the UK.

This is a great app for the novice gardener! The only downside is that there doesn’t seem to be a climate setting. While it may be automatically adjusting based on your current location, I don’t think that is the case, so planting times may not work well for climates too far outside that of Southern England.

Homestead Record Keeping and Data Tracking Apps

Here are some of the most popular data tracking apps on the Google and Apple app stores. To be honest I don’t recommend any but the last app for most people. But since the are commonly brought up, I thought it would be helpful if I covered them before I give you my recommendation at the end of this section.

Count Your Eggs / Count My Eggs

Super simple egg production tracking apps. You input a number and the app keeps daily records and a production graph.

Free on iPhone. $1.49 one time purchase on Android.

This might be a good app to help keep kids interested in gathering eggs in the mornings. Probably too basic to be much use on a serious homestead, although fun if you are just getting started raising chickens. For more serious use, I would recommend a spreadsheet app like Apple Numbers or Google Sheets.

SmartSTEADER

Basic production tracking for your homestead. Designed to track production numbers such as number of eggs, pounds of produce, gallons of milk, etc. It also allows you to track income and expenses related to food production. With this date, it can show various statistics, such as production cost in dollars per pound, and profit/loss on a monthly basis.

Free to install and try for one month, with a subscription fee of $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Service provides “cloud storage” to backup your data.

I personally don’t recommend this app. You can get the same thing done with the spreadsheet app that comes with your phone, without the monthly charge. Plus, spreadsheet apps are usable both on the phone and on the computer, and can sync between the two.

However, for people that need to do exactly what this app provides, and want a dead simple interface to do it, then this app might be worth downloading.

There just isn’t a better way to keep homestead records than a spreadsheet. You may know this from classic Excel, but both major phone software producers have their own free spreadsheet apps.

Why a spread sheet app? First off all they are both free, and automatically sink to “the cloud” without any subscription fees.

Spreadsheets are much more powerful, and don’t lock you in to a particular app which may not last the test of time. Nothing worse than loosing 5 years of gardening or production records because the app developer went out of business. Since spreadsheets all export to industry standard formats like Excel, OpenOffice, and CSV, you can switch spreadsheets at any time without loss of data.

Both spreadsheet apps are compatible with web versions of the spreadsheet, which means you can sit down on a computer with a full size screen to analysis your data and plan your strategy for the next year.

Homestead Apps to Connect with Nature

Wild Edibles Forage

The highest rated foraging app available. This app has more than 250 wild plants in it’s database. As well as complete identification information, use, edibility, and multiple photos of the plant in different stages of growth.

Current price $5.99, and is much cheaper and easier to carry than a good guide book.

This app is great for casual foragers, or people that just want to learn their land. Although, probably not a complete replacement for a good introductory class on foraging by somebody that knows your area well.

Shroomify — Mushroom ID USA

Outstanding app for mushroom foraging and identification. Better than a guidebook in your pocket, this app contains info on over 400 mushrooms, with over 1000 photos. The app automatically takes in to account your location to only show you mushrooms that grow in your region. It also factors in the month of the year to show you a “top 20” mushrooms likely to be seen in your region at that particular time of year.

Each mushroom entry contains detailed identification criteria, as well as photos diagrams, seasonal observation graphs, and edibility information.

This app is free to download and use. Photos beyond the first one of each mushroom require a “premium” upgrade, which is a one time charge of $3.99.

Must have for the mushroom lovers and homestead fungi enthusiast. Easier to carry and just as comprehensive as any mushroom guidebook. But, as always be careful when picking mushrooms. It is best to go your first time with someone experienced picking in your area that show you the ropes.

Skyview Lite

An amazingly fun and educational app for star watchers. Only a few generations ago, most educated people knew the names of many of the stars and constellations which have been lost to light pollution in most cities. As homesteaders we have the privilege to reconnect with nature the way our great grand parents did.

While we don’t all have grandparents around still who can point out these stars for us and help us name them, this app will help you get a foot held. Just open it op and point it to the night sky, and the phone will augment what you see with overlaid constellations and names of the brightest stares and planets. Tap each one for more information, and even look ahead to determine the raise and set times of sky features you want to see.

This version of the app is free, although there is a paid version that is well worth the money.

I highly recommend this app to anyone who lives the night sky.

Sun Seeker

This app is crucial for solar power installation, passive solar building, garden planning. Having a good understanding of where the sun will be and when is pivotal for planning and building an efficient off grid homestead.

Solar panels need to point the right direction and be free of shade. Passive solar building need to have proper eaves and window alignments to make the most of the sun in the cold months and keep as much sun out in the warm months. And, gardens need to have the right mixture of sun and shade for each plant variety.

This app has exactly what I’ve been looking for in a Sun app. Point the app to the sky, and see exactly where the sun will be at what time, and what day of the year! Also, load satellite maps of your area and see what side of the hill the sun will be facing at each time of day.

This app is $9.99 flat, and well worth the money if you are building, planting, or installing a solar system.

Bonus — iPhone Built in Compass / Level App

Many people don’t know this exists, but I find it very valuable on a regular basis. Installed by default on all iPhone made in the last 5 years at least is a little app called Compass. This is usually found in a folder called Utilities, unless you moved it somewhere else.

This app not only gives you a fairly accurate compass to use for navigation and locating structures. But, it also has a level mode, which you get to by sliding from right to left.

Set the phone on a flat surface to know how many degrees from level it is, and in what direction. Or place the phone on its side for a traditional bubble level reading in degrees. Useful for angling solar panel, hanging things plumb, or leveling foundations without the need for an extra tool.