The Edible Garden Show: handy products for city gardeners
by Drucilla James
Image courtesy of The Edible Garden Show
What a difference a year makes! Last year it rained for the UK’s only national garden show dedicated to fruit and vegetables, at Stoneleigh Park. This year the event moved to the Alexandra Palace in London and not only did the sun came out, the show also had the seal of royal approval with a visit from Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall.
From the steps of the Ally Pally you could look out over a glittering London, albeit slightly smog- besmirched, and then enter the august portals of this the site of the first television broadcast, to view the delights of The Edible Garden Show in their stately stained-glass-illuminated,pillared and painted setting.
Here are some of the clever aids for city gardeners selected on our visit:
GrowRings and Window Boxes
If you want flower beds or vegetable planters that you can set up in seconds then GrowRings could be the answer. These beds, made of polypropylene panels, simply slot together. Each pack makes a 24cm high circle with a diameter of 85cm – the space that the average person can reach comfortably to weed and cultivate. If you fancy something more extensive, then you can add more panels to increase the bed diameter. You can also add tiers or bend the boards to make differently shaped containers. Designed for growing in small spaces, the GrowRings, which come in different finishes – trellis, red brick or wicker for example-, can be used anywhere. With an additional bit of kit they can even function as greenhouses too.
The Window Boxes are made of the same material and in the same way and they too come in a range of finishes – even a patriotic Union Jack design.
Terracotta GrowRing special offer – 4 pack £31.95 1 ring £8.45. With greenhouse £21.95
Wicker Window Box £8.95
Plantspacers from Squared Gardening
Square foot gardening is a technique for creating a productive vegetable garden in a small space. These templates, made from recyclable PVC, take all the planning and calculating out of the process and come ready with 16, 9 or 5 holes surrounded by guidance on the number and nature of vegetables to be planted in each hole. These grids will help ensure that plants are spaced out at the right planting distances without the need to consult reference books. A whole range of vegetables are listed on them from aubergines to parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme which should cover even the most esoteric gardener’s needs.
The guides are effective too in the summer months helping to save water and reducing the amount of space for weeds to grow.
All three guides £11.99 or £4.99 each
Horti Hoods Mini 180o and 90o and the Culti Cave by Cave Innovations
These recyclable transparent domes– free standing in the case of the Hortihood 1800 or wall-mounted for the 900 -are lightweight to use and very easy to fold away when not needed. Both take only a short while to assemble and install- you just slide the fibreglass rods through the sleeves, push the ends into the brass eyelets, fix into a wall or fence for the 900 or peg through the loops around the edge for the 1800 and you’re all set. Their lift-up and drop-down access makes greenhouse gardening as simple as opening and folding an umbrella.
The Hortihood 900 would be great for flat-dwellers growing flowers and vegetables on their balconies ; small enough to fit under a window it can be used as a cloche to start plants off or protect them in bad weather. While the Hortihood 1800 can be placed over small raised beds or open ground for year-round sowing or used to bring on young plants or protect plants and shrubs in winter.
Mini Hortihood 1800 £44.99
Mini Horti-Hood 90o £35.99
The Culti Cave is a modular grow tent which again can be used and then folded up and stored away when no longer required. It is ideal for balconies or small growing spaces but also has a door at the rear for you to be able to add to the space should your gardening plans become more ambitious. It can be fixed against a fence or wall with the wall plugs and pegs provided or be free standing.
The Edible Flower Shop: ‘Have your flower garden and eat it.’
Rachael Voaden has again designed a product for gardeners with limited space, with her packs of flower seeds intended to make growing both decorative and edible. Each pack includes the right seeds to plant, growing guides for each flower and recipe suggestions to use once the flowers have been harvested. The packs are ideal for window boxes, courtyard gardens and roof terraces.
With 54 varieties of seed to select from, there is lots of choice and recipes encourage you to experiment whether it be making floral salads, cake decorating, brewing up calming teas or developing scented sugars.
Flower collections (5 packs) eg Flowers for Cakes £22. Individual packs £4.95
Duogrow Planter from Greenhouse Sensation
The Duogrow Planter’s 25 litre SmartReservoir will keep plants watered for up to 14 days. It operates via feeder mats pulling water from the reservoir into the soil around the roots as the plants require, without leaving them sitting in water. It is a worry-free way to look after tomatoes, peas, beans and any tall cropping plants while you’re away on holiday, ensuring that your carefully nurtured vegetables keep growing in your absence.
This is another holiday watering kit but in this case is designed for use with any plants. The easy2GO incorporates an AQUAvalve, which controls the flow of water to plants, by simple gravity pressure, from a reservoir or tank of any size. No pumps, mains water pressure, electricity or timers are required. The valve once opened allows water to fill a tray to a pre-set level of 20mm and only refills when all the water has been used. The system should keep plants watered for weeks and can be installed anywhere – inside or out – patio or balcony or open garden. All that is needed is a reservoir or tank with a 30 litre capacity and a basic gardening tray 30mm in depth. So again your prize plants should continue to flourish while you are away.