So recently I decided to join in with the 'grown-your-own' craze that seems to have swept the nation (and my workplace in particular), in these times of recession.
The decision to purchase this product was somewhat on a whim; I had left buying birthday presents for a friend til the VERY last minute, and would not be able to get to any shops in the days leading up to his cakey day. Eek!
My friend is a veggie and big on his food, loving anything spicy. This leads to me trawling the internet for anything 'Chili' related... and up pops The Pocket Garden's 'Hot Stuff Chili'. Spot on; might as well get one for myself too...
My first impressions of the product where somewhat underwhelming; a metallic pouch that appeared to have been vacuum sealed (reminding me a little of novelty astronaut food that most of the men in my family tend to receive every Christmas...).
On the front is a rather disappointing paper label (looks a little like the sort of thing you could print yourself in 2 minutes), with "HOT STUFF", a picture of a chili pepper, and the brand name "The Pocket Garden" at the bottom. Clearly minimal effort went into packaging design here!
*At this point I'm thinking how glad I am to not be a complete Miser of a friend, and that I have ordered him other presents besides this one!*
The instructional label on the back wasn't a great deal better, but did at least provide me with some information on what little delights would await me once I had opened the pack.
I find that the chillies that I will be growing are the 'Numex Twilight Chili', which "produces a beautiful compact crop of edible chili peppers". It then goes on with slightly more info on how long the seeds should take to germinate (within 21 days), and how long it will take to produce any fruit (16 weeks).
I should also mention that the product states that "all the compost used is permitted by the soil association & is peat free".
So I read further to the instructions; successfully manage to cut off the top of the pouch (phew), and find the little packet of seeds within - (it is worth mentioning to do all this over a bin or sink to avoid getting soil everywhere as the pack is filled quite generously).
As instructed, I pop the seven seeds in just under the soil, water, and then kept checking every 30 minutes expecting insta-chillies to have magicked themselves into the pot [in all fairness to the makers, this was not claimed on the pack, I am just incredibly inpatient]!
DID IT WORK?
My all my seeds bar one, began to germinate within 7 days. My friends seeds actually germinated quicker than this (around 3-4 days).
Around 10 weeks on, and my plants are doing nicely (just about to start flowering). My friends plants are even better than mine (but I am SHOCKING at growing anything, so can't be too disappointed). I suppose in this respect it will be a sort of on-going review as to whether I actually manage to get any chillies from the plants!
The whole point of these 'Pocket Garden' packs is that they're supposed to be small and thus suitable for smaller spaces such as a desk at work or (in my case), a windowsill. However, we both found that we needed to replant the plants into larger pots, as they seemed to struggle in the bag.
Yes, yes, I know it isn't the end of the world, but I liked the novelty space-saving idea of the gift, rather than ending up with 6-7 plants that seem to be getting quite large!
I also decided to look into the particular chili I was growing, and found that it is not considered the easiest species of chili plant to grow. Although the plant itself does look visually attractive (so is great whether you plan to eat the fruit or not), I did find it a somewhat odd choice from the product makers. Perhaps something like a Jalapeno plant (which I have recently invested in) would've been a safer and more reliable choice?
I am certainly no gardener - or any good with plants at all. In fact the only time that I could be described as 'green-fingered', would be if I was mining for nose-nuggets!
Bearing that in mind, although the plants did get off to a slow start, they do seem to be doing OK now. Therefore this might be a nice way to introduce a child to the idea of gardening and 'growing your own', without too much effort.
All in all, now the plants are established I'm very happy with them. However, I feel the extra price that I paid for the novelty of having the grow-bag for them was a waste, seeing as the plants couldn't be left in it.
These are a nice little idea as an unusual gift, but I think the packaging does leaf [ho ho] a little to be desired, as does the price.
You can currently buy the Chili version of The Pocket Garden from gettingpersonal.co.uk for £4.84
There are also other plants in the range (including flowering plants, herbs, strawberries etc), but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy them anytime soon.
This Chilli will germinate within 21 days and will produce fruit 16 weeks later.