Garden Goodies @ GPE 2020

Last week I attended the Garden Press Event in London for the first time – this is an event organised to allow the horticulture industry to come together so that journalists can view the latest products, find out about new campaigns and generally share information and news. It was a whistlestop tour of all the big names in the industry, plus lots of smaller and emerging businesses with new and interesting products to bring to the market. Not to mention initiatives like National Children’s Gardening Week and Garden Day which aim to raise the profile of gardening generally.

There were a few items which particularly caught my attention, so here’s my list of Top 5 Garden Goodies from the GPE 2020:

  • Nemaknights – I had spotted this advertised in a magazine and then promptly forgot what it was called, so I was delighted to find NemaKnights had a stall, and quizzed them on this potentially transformative product! Essentially it’s nematodes in granular form which you can shake onto the soil as and when you need it. It’s a biological pest control which is child, pet and wildlife friendly and targets slugs and snails, although it’s also available for vine weevils, ants and sciarid flies. If you’ve used nematodes before you’ll know that up until now they’ve been a bit fiddly to use – with a short shelf life, they’re kept in the fridge then you’ve got to add water, mix and water into your soil. Nemaknights seems to eliminate the fuss, making it much easier to use a pesticide-free solution to an age-old problem. I’m looking forward to trying this as we do have many slugs in our garden – I’d also be keen to use it for fungus gnats because this is the time of year they tend to reappear, when my windowsills are full of germinating seed trays!

Quadgrow – another product I was very taken by was the Quadgrow by Greenhouse Sensation. This is a self-watering planter, ideal for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines or courgettes, and can be used in the greenhouse, polytunnel or on a patio. It promises to keep plants at just the right moisture level for around 14 days using a wicking system, resulting in 2x bigger harvests compared to grow bags or pots. I can see this working well for my tomatoes – or possibly the aubergines and courgettes which are currently only seedlings… so watch this space!

Claire Austin’s Book of Perennials – it was great to speak to Claire Austin herself who was there to promote her newly revised Book of Perennials. I had read about her most recent venture The Sarn in February’s Gardens Illustrated and loved the idea of opening a pub with a plant nursery out the back! Beer and plants – what more could you want?! And I was lucky enough to take away a copy of the book, which I am certain will fuel my daydream of one day owning my own independent nursery. The book was first published in 2015 and has been revised to include 180 new varieties with extended features on peonies and irises. It’s full of advice on choosing and caring for perennials, and how to plant them together. Plus there are 700 plants listed – a perennial lovers paradise.

Honeyfield’s – this is a company producing wild bird food and associated feeders, nest boxes etc. The brand is owned by Marriages, which makes pet food and animal feed, and is now an authority on environmentally friendly wild bird care. Honeyfield’s stands apart from other suppliers in its approach to sourcing seed and sustainability – it’s the first supplier of Fair to Nature bird seed in the UK, which means it’s commited to using cereals and other feeds from farms which grow crops to sustain farmland bird species. So Honeyfield’s not only feeds garden birds, but also looks after those in the countryside too. Not only that, but their packaging is recyclable and they encourage consumer to use a refillable ‘Tub for Life’ for zero-waste shopping. I’ll be popping one of their Easy Clean Seed Feeders out into the garden shortly and I’m certain the local birds are going to love it! Check out Honeyfield’s excellent range of feeding guides here and their brilliant Bird Bites videos, which cover a host of different wild bird care topics.

Activearth – I was very intrigued by this new product, which claims to supercharge your soil. As the owner of some under-performing raised beds, I’m currently on the hunt for ideas to help increase the nutrient levels of my soil and improve the health of the plants I grow in them. Activearth is an organic pellet which provides the soil with 4 essential minerals (Magnesium, Calcium, Hydrogen and Potassium) plus beneficial soil bacteria, to improve fertility and plant growth in a slow release format. Scattered over the growing area, Activearth promises to transform the soil ‘from compacted and dormant to biologically active and nutrient-rich’. This, I like the sound of. So I will try the small sample I’ve got and see if there are any significant improvements – it sounds like a magic formula, and it smells like biscuits! Is it too good to be true? I hope to find out and report back…

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