Glee Review: Glee New Products Awards winners reflect unabating popularity of grow-your-own

The Glee New Product Awards 2009 in the garden care and landscape divisions were dominated by grow-your-own products that have been designed to further the trend that has swept the horticulture sector this year.

Speaking at the Garden Retail Secrets of Success of the Top 100 Garden Centres seminar, expert panellists said they thought the innovations would help ensure that the trend could maintain momentum for years to come.

Scotsdales Garden Centre managing director and HTA Retail Committee chairman Caroline Owen said: "I think the manufacturers are making life a lot easier — they are making products more attractive."

Garden & Leisure operations director Carol Paris added: "There have been some good inventions.

"There are many more solutions available for people who want to grow their own, which will help new gardeners move beyond growing salad crops and get into things like chilli and tomato."

Latest developments among the award winners available to encourage the grow-your-own markets included the Grow Tent from GrowCamp, a raised and netted bed that won both the Glee Landscape Innovation Award and the Glee Special Award.

The product is, effectively, a raised bed with net to help organic growers — and the option of plastic coverings can turn it into a greenhouse.

One of the judges, Castle Gardens managing director Mike Burks, said: "The remarkable price point and easy design means that this product has impressed us all and will encourage grow-your-own enthusiasts to take their growing to the next level."

Glee's Green Innovation Award winner, the Seedbed Roll from the Master Herbalist, offers an all-in-one grow-mat, seed and roll. It can be used on the ground outside or in a tray and includes a plastic compostable film with perforations to protect seedlings.

Highgrow Yorkshire's Growing Station was shortlisted for the Garden Care Innovation award at Glee for its innovative design. The station comes in two sizes and is designed for children, wheelchair users or elderly gardeners with limited mobility. It is effectively a raised bed on legs with a removable propagator cover for growing seedlings, which should help open the market for grow-your-own to more people.

Also shortlisted for the Garden Care Innovation Award was the Crop Cage from Solus' Botanico range. The company has a huge collection of new products to aid grow-your-own fans but the judges were particularly interested in the cage. It is a simple structure made from plastic push-together joints and steel tubes. It is designed to protect crops from birds and would work for fruit and vegetable growers.

Another product shortlisted for the garden innovation prize was Gardman's Grow It Polytunnel, a 3m x 2m PVC tunnel with steel frame priced to offer a cheaper, simpler alternative to the greenhouse and aimed at the "intermediate" home gardener.

The final product shortlisted for the Garden Care Innovation Award was Westland's Eraza Slug Killer. Marketing manager Keith Nicholson said it has half the strength of other metaldehyde products but has five times the efficacy. This is gained through new a new milling process that makes the pellet more accessible to the slug.

Organic compost and fertiliser supplier Vital Earth launched its Chicken Poo fertiliser. Managing director Steve Harper said: "It is UK-sourced and comes from happy hens — and they are all the messages that people want to hear. Because of that point of difference, price isn't the first thing people want to hear about." The product is supplied in tub form and comes in a 10-litre size with an RRP of £7.99.

Scotts Miracle-Gro general manager Martin Breddy expects the lawn seed market to grow by 15-20 per cent after the introduction of the product. Scotts will run a £1m TV advertising campaign before Easter. Breddy said: "Our lawn patcher includes coir, which is the key."

See the top 100 garden centres at www.HorticultureWeek.com/Top100


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