“ Brand: Verve „
Something that might not be well known to my fellow dooyoo members is that I love nothing better than growing my own fruit and veggies in our garden at home. I am quite an earth mother type really. I like the way I can grow things for my children with no chemicals. I love the way the children can help to grow plants from seeds and see the fruit of their labour, and I love eating the fresh produce that we get.
Some years we are much more organised than other years and I manage to start off my own produce from seeds on the windowsill in my living room. I wasn't sure how into gardening I would be when we first started a few years back, so I decided to just use yoghurt pots to start some seeds off. While this worked well enough, I had to be very careful as the plants grew big quickly and the pots were a bit too small. I also found I got some pots that got a bit water logged and had mould growing on them.
I spotted this propogator in B and Q while shopping one day, and decided that it might be just my solution. It is not heated, so it is not going to work well for starting things off when it is really cold still in January/February time. However, I think from March onwards, on my south facing living room window sill, this works very well indeed.
It consists of two parts - a black plastic tray with a few small holes drilled through it. The tray is approximately 26cm wide by 42cm longand around 6cm deep at its deepest point. This is a good size for young seedlings and cuttings to establish a root system. This tray is made from a sturdy plastic, so it does not distort shape when filled with compost and seedlings.
The holes provide good drainage of water from any compost in the tray, although I make sure to stand it on a tray on my window sill, otherwise the water comes out the holes and then blisters my gloss paint when it is sat in it. (Spot the woman who learns from her mistakes. )On a tray, this water just sits on the tray instead, and it also provides me a means to carrying my propogator around so I don't leave a trail of compost wherever I go. If I were using this outside in my greenhouse, I would just stand this on one of the metal shelves and allow the water to drip down onto any plants on the shelf below.
I have used this by filling the tray with compost and growing a few plants in there - this is better if the plants are well spaced - no use sewing a handful of lettuce seeds then being unable to seperate their roots in order to plant on in the garden.
I have also used this a mini greenhouse, by putting my seeds in smaller individual pots and then standing them in the black tray with the lid over. This works extremely well.
The lid is made from a see through plastic which is similar in hardness to the base. This is quite deep, giving a total depth of 15cm from the ground to the top of the lid when growing seedlings or cuttings. I find the vent feature quite useful as when you water the plants, the sun then shines onto the tray and condensation can collect inside the lid if you don't open the vent. Moisture like this is not brilliant for young plants as it can lead to mould. The vent on my propogator is a little different to the one in the picture. Mine has a rectangular shaped one, which slides across revealing three vent holes. The one pictured is a circular vent which twists.
I would say on a very hot day, I would remove the lid completely to avoid condensation occuring, then just put the lid on overnight when there is no direct sunshine and the temperature is going to drop overnight.
One thing that has annoyed me with this propogator is that it is just slightly too wide for my window sill. This means that a small part overhangs, and on occasion, the propogator has got knocked off resulting in mess all over, and loss of my seedlings. I have also managed to break the lid when it dropped. It does also get in the way of shutting the curtains. If I use this one now, I will take it off the windowsill overnight.
One good thing about the propogator is that its fairly cheap to buy in the first place at about £4. It is also possible to just purchase a lid if you do manage to break it, though at £4 for the lid too, I think I would just buy a whole new propogator.
Because this is plastic, I have had no problem washing this out with soapy water when I have finished using it, and then putting it away to re-use the following year.
Because of the difficulties of roots of seedlings growing intertwined with neighbouring seedlings, and the fact it is too wide for my windowsill, I have bought a narrower propogator with slots for individual plants. I will keep this one for using outdoors in my greenhouse, but it is not going to be the first one I pick.
It is good quality, and if it were a little narrower in width then I would use it a lot more. It has produced strong seedlings which have gone on to become healthy plants when transplanted into my raised beds in the garden. I just stick to bigger plants like courgettes or cucumber which have huge seeds. That way, I can plant them far enough apart to not have any problems.
Verve are a good make, and I would say for the price it has been a useful addition to my tools for growing our own in the garden.