Growing Strawberries with a Raspberry Pi (INTRO EPISODE)

by Tomi Mester in Raspberry Pi
published or updated:

TRANSCRIPT:

Hi I’m Tomi Mester from Data36.com and this is the intro episode of a new series on this channel. It’s about a new hobby project of mine that I’m calling “Growing Strawberries with a Raspberry Pi”.

And as the name suggests, the goal of this hobby project is to grow a strawberry, so yes, a real strawberry — a plant that physically exists. And I want to make it 100% automated — so I don’t have to worry about whether I forgot to water the plant or whether there is enough sunlight and so on…

Obviously, the exciting stuff in this whole thing is the automation itself, which will be done with a popular micro-computer: a raspberry pi. And the plan is that here, I’ll share every little detail of the project from idea to execution — so even the coding parts and so on..

Before we get started, I want to answer a few questions that nobody asked anyway… But:

Why am I doing *this project*?

Well, there are many, many reasons… But probably I have just watched too many documentaries on how humanity kills the planet and itself — and how one can help heal it by starting his own garden.

But I’d rather say that the real reason is that, just in general, in the last few months I’ve gotten more and more excited about growing at least a small part of my own food.

At the same time, I know that I’m really bad at repetitive stuff like taking care of plants. I mean watering, replanting, even making sure that the plant gets enough sunlight… But as an IT-person I also know that what can be automated, should be automated. So with the help of this little beauty called raspberry pi, I’ll hopefully be able to apply the concepts that I learned in the digital world — to this half-digital, half-real-world project.

Another question that nobody asked is:

Why am I sharing *this project* here?

And as most of you probably know, originally I’m a data analyst, and in the last few years I’ve mostly published data science tutorials on my website, data36.com. The largest part of my audience are aspiring data scientists. And a key message in many of my tutorials and video courses — is that before someone applies to any junior data scientist positions, she should go ahead and create one or two hobby projects.

So it seems logical that when I do a hobby project myself, I should publish it, so you can see all the fun parts, all the hard parts, the whole learning curve — and basically the anatomy of how a hobby project is done.

I secretly hope that this will inspire some of my course participants to get started with their own hobby projects. And, of course, your hobby project doesn’t have to be gardening, that’s just my current idea, it’s what I’m excited about — but you should do whatever makes you excited, as long as it is related to data science.

Speaking of which, for those people who know me through my data science tutorials, it might be a bit weird that I’ll grow strawberries as a hobby project – because it seemingly doesn’t have any connection to data science – but let me say three things about this.

  1. It’ll be done in Python — at least I hope so. So that’s already a minor connection to data science.
  2. The second thing is that while I plan to start off simple — in the long-term, I have plans (well, maybe unrealistic plans) but I have plans on applying a few advanced or less advanced data science concepts, as well, in this project. A few ideas that I have in mind right now are to implement basic image recognition algorithms to see whether my strawberries are healthy or not — or to apply machine learning to optimize the water and sunlight supplies. But more about these later.
  3. And the third and most important reason for sharing this project here, is that — many issues, many problems and many challenges that I’ll face in this hobby project — in a way, will be quite similar to what you might face in yours. Because when you learn something new, the most important part of your personal development is never that from now on, you’ll know a specific solution for this or that specific problem… it’s more like developing the *problem solver* mindset… that a data scientist will need during her career. So hopefully, I’ll meet fun challenges during this project — and you’ll see how I approach a problem and what’s the mindset that I use during problem solving.

Anyways, it’s time to get started!

And as a first step, I want to create a working prototype.

And let’s list what I’ll need for that:

  • a raspberry pi 4
  • a moisture sensor
  • something that takes care of the actual watering
  • a strawberry plant
  • and a few additional bits of hardware to connect all these

Let’s see!

raspberry pi 4B

Raspberry pi, check. Moisture sensor, check. Watering system. Well, not yet but I’ll order something soon. Strawberry plant, not yet. Stuff to connect things. Well, I guess I have these but I’m pretty sure that I forgot about a few things. So we will see.

Skills I need

I also listed all the skills and information that I have to have to move forward with this project:

  • how to grow strawberries
  • how to use a raspberry pi
  • how to use Python — as I intend to use Python for the coding part… 

So, let’s see, I don’t know how to grow strawberries, I’ve never used a raspberry pi… but at least I know Python well enough. So it’s one out of three. Not too bad. But I guess for the rest, I’ll just start googling some tutorials after finishing this video.

Anyways, that’s it, this is my new hobby project. I hope that I’ll be able to upload videos regularly about how it progresses.

The next video will be about discovering this raspberry pi — it’ll be exciting because I don’t really have any monitors or keyboards to plug into this, so I’ll have to access it using the command line and wifi and ssh. But more about that in the next video.

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Cheers,
Tomi Mester