Six cool things for a greener garden

Hello! I’m diving back into the ‘Six on Saturday’ format but this one’s a bit different! Instead of showing you six things from my garden (which hasn’t yet shed its dismal February look), I’m going to show you six new gardening products that I thought were pretty cool, as seen at the Garden Press Event in London on 21 February.

The Garden Press Event is essentially a fair for the horticultural media, where some of the big brands and also smaller companies showcase their new gardening products, everything from robot lawnmowers to eye-watering expensive but gorgeous Japanese Niwaki pruning tools. I spotted a few famous faces, including Sue Kent from Gardener’s World, but sadly not Monty, of whom I am a major fan! Also present were the less famous, and the totally non-famous like me, and anyone who writes for the horticultural press.

1 Hortiwool: Garden Wool Pad

Using a by-product from the farming sector, and made from British wool, this pad smelt wonderfully of sheep! Initially used by the company for packaging, they started hearing back from green-fingered customers that it had some really quite useful garden uses. It can be used to line hanging baskets, to protect plants from frost (instead of fleece, which contains plastics), as a growing medium if you like to grow micro-greens, or even just dug into the soil or into pots for added organic matter and water retention. Its cutest use is to place it in a bird feeder for nesting material – especially now that the nesting season is starting. I’m going to try it as a slug repellant around young veg plants and maybe even dahlias – it has a coarse texture and absorbs slug slime so they don’t like it, apparently. I’ll let you know how I get on!

2 Wool pots

Yes more wool! I think many of us don’t feel good about those piles of plastic pots accumulating behind the shed from our garden centre buys. These wool pots are once again using a by-product, as the sheep are shorn each year to keep them cool in summer, and although not made in the UK (they are manufactured in Egypt), they are very lightweight and not in the least bulky, so transport impact is minimal. The pots can also be used to transplant seedlings directly into the ground, where the wool will eventually biodegrade and provide nutrition to the plant. There’s even the bonus that the wool edging around the seedling just might deter slugs and snails.

3 Garden on a roll

I thought this was a really clever idea, especially for beginner or clueless gardeners! You get a pre-designed garden border laid out on a biodegradable paper plan, where the plants are marked out and correctly spaced. The plants are supplied with the plan, so you just plant into the paper where indicated and voila. The company designs a range of borders for different situations and styles, for example a shady border, a sunny border, and evergreen, Mediterranean, wildlife and English cottage borders. I did wonder whether soil types should also be taken into account and asked them about this. They said that they didn’t want to add too many layers of complexity, especially as this product is aimed at beginners, which I understand and they have deliberately chosen plants that aren’t too particular about soil (e.g. not including acid-soil lovers). I think this is a nice way into gardening for anyone who feels intimidated by plants and the choice available. It also helps reduce waste as plants are more likely to thrive in the right situation and not need replacing.

4 Urban Farm-It mushroom-growing kits

Urban Farm-It specialises in aquaponics, hydroponics and mushroom growing kits. Their aim is to promote urban food-growing in a sustainable, eco-friendly and fun way. The risk of fresh food shortages has recently been in the news in the UK, and I think that food insecurity is going to be something we’ll have to live with in the future. What I really liked about this company is that it enables people without gardens to still grow their own food at home. I also think that growing mushrooms sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m keen to try it this year. I didn’t get a freebie but I do think these would make wonderful and original gifts (Hint, hint!).

5 Earthy Sustainable pots, birdbaths and insect hotels

This company uses agricultural waste to make modern and sleek-looking garden accessories. I thought the insect hotels looked especially good, for the discerning fashionista ladybirds out there! When crops are grown and harvested, a lot of the residual plant waste is usually burnt. Instead of doing that, agricultural waste is processed and blended with resin to make new things. The main ingredients used determine the finish, and include bamboo, wheat chaff, straw, coffee husks and nut husks. The factory is in China, which is one negative point due to the carbon footprint of transporting the finished products to other countries, but it’s still better than creating from new or unrecycled materials, which would require more energy input.

6 The Natural Plant Food Company plant feeds and soil improvers

I really love how this company operates. They generate renewable energy from anaerobic respiration, using plant matter grown on their farm, and then they use the waste product to make nutritious plant feeds, mulches and composts. They also use these to then grow the plants that feed back into the renewable energy production process, completing the circle perfectly. They’ve given me some mulch and indoor plant feed to try out, I am really looking forward to seeing the results.

Modern horticulture developed as an off-shoot of agriculture, and many of the processes and products around it are industrial or energy-intensive, or even actively damaging to the environment and ecosystems. So it’s heartening to see that efforts are being made to reduce gardening’s carbon footprint and make it more sustainable. Using waste products from other industries like farming or energy plants, especially where these are local, is one way towards a greener future for gardening. Hopefully this has been useful – I’m not paid to promote any of the products here, I just like them! And it goes without saying: wherever possible make your own, recycle, upcycle and grow your own.

The Garden Press Event!

Six on Saturday is hosted by gardening blogger Jim from Garden Ruminations, and on his Six on Saturday page you’ll find links to many inspiring gardens and gardeners!

26 thoughts on “Six cool things for a greener garden

  1. Really interesting, it sounds you had a great time. I love the posh “hotels” too. I’m pleased that people are beginning to think seriously about sustainability and offer viable alternatives. Brilliant!

  2. What brilliant ideas! This garden event was assuredly an interesting experience and the pots of wool are the most amazing to me. There are also many varieties of mushrooms to grow. I would like to try.

    1. Yes! It was really interesting, I was worried it would only be lawnmowers and tools but there’s a lot of creativity out there too 😁 The wool pots won the best new product award at the event!

  3. Nice! I love the wool products. I see people using fleece and I cannot bring myself to do so, being more likely to use worn sheets, because I hate the idea of buying fleece and throwing it away after one or two uses. I often start seeds in egg cartons and pull the cartons apart to plant the seedlings, but you don’t get much of a head start that way, as I typically need to plant them out in 10 days. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Am starting to feel the same way about fleece and hadn’t realised until recently that it contains plastic coating. Would be interesting to try the wool as a fleece alternative, I imagine it’s very cosy 😊

  4. An interesting post Sel. I am hoping this year to buy more locally produced product as I’m tired of so many things coming from China and other countries. I have used wool packing for protecting my Chocolate Cosmos, but never realised that slugs might dislike it. I shall now cut some up to fit around my lilies in the hope that they won’s get eaten as the emerge from the ground. I also cut off the tops of bottles to use as mini cloches!

  5. Great post! I love the use of wool products in particular, and think I may have finally found a use for all my knitting leftovers! I’ll be knitting wool pots next winter.

  6. Love these fab garden products! The garden in a roll sounds most interesting and kind of dummy-proof!

  7. I was just thinking today that I hadn’t seen anything from you in a while and then here you are, which is lovely. I enjoyed your review of the green products, as I’m very much a low waste gardener myself.

    1. I confess I haven’t been keeping up with SOS lately, my garden hasn’t been inspiring over winter 🤨 glad you liked this post, it was fun to go and see what the horti movers & shakers are up to.

  8. What brilliant ideas! This garden event was assuredly an interesting experience and the pots of wool are the most amazing to me. There are also many varieties of mushrooms to grow. I would like to try

  9. Thank you for sharing. I like the sheep wool pots but I am pessimistic to how long it will take for them to reach France. Overall it is good to see more green products for the garden. Amelia

    1. Thanks Amelia. I hope the French will make their own wool pots someday soon 🐑 In other ways the French are ahead, I admire that they have banned pesticides for private garden use, wish other countries would follow suit and quickly!

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