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Adam Pasco shares some of the latest gardening innovations

Anything that helps make gardening easier is a good thing in my book. It’s usually the simplest ideas that are most successful, and we’ve had several in recent years.

Of course new flower, veg and fruit varieties are being introduced all the time that have all sorts of benefits, from disease resistance to bigger yields, but I’m thinking more of gardening innovations and gadgets.

Most of the plants we buy come in pots, but one major retailer has decided that their bedding plants don’t need pots – cutting waste, saving resources, and possibly money too!

B&Q recently introduced what they called Teabag Technology – growing all their bedding plants in large blocks of natural coir fibre in a biodegradable outer bag. Gone are the tiny seedlings and plug plants that need potting and nurturing, replaced by easyGrow plants that are larger and easier to handle. Planting up pots and baskets really is child’s play. In fact they used a young boy in their promotional video to drive this point home.

Well, their customers certainly responded, seeing a significant sales increase in their first year to something like 3 million or more packs, so it looks like the idea is a winner. There was an important environmental message as part of the sales story too, as most of the compost comes from a renewable resource, and all packaging is fully recyclable. So have consumers got a ‘green conscience’ after all, or was the idea and competitive price just too tempting?

Autumn bulb planting has become easier too as a bulb retailer / Suttons Seeds offers a clever biodegradable planting tray complete with bulbs. Rather than buying lots of separate bags of bulbs and trying to work out how far apart and deep they all need planting, all the guesswork has been removed. Trays are made of a material similar to egg boxes, and they come in a range of shapes and sizes that neatly fit patio pots, window boxes or spaces in flowerbeds with your chosen mix of spring flowering bulbs. Just dig a hole, pop in the card tray holding the bulbs, cover with the correct depth of soil and water. Simple!

A similar idea has been developed with seeds embedded in a biodegradable paper mats or tapes. Seeds are already spaced out so all you have to do is lay the tape or mat on level prepared soil, cover with a thin layer of compost or soil, and keep watered until seedlings emerge.

Of course the range of bulbs or seeds available in these systems is limited, but for many they’ll provide an easy first step into gardening. And that’s a wonderful thing. If they appeal to new or young gardeners and deliver success then these people will be hooked for life!

The cordless technology used in power tools has improved tremendously now that nickel-cadmium or NiCad batteries have been developed. Gone are the days when you’d have to trail an electric cable outside to power your hedge trimmer, and take great care not to cut it! Cordless technology is safer and very convenient too.

Yes, lots has changed in the garden over the years, from unbreakable plastics and polycarbonate replacing glass, to using mini computers to accurately turn our irrigation systems on and off.

We have a better understanding of the natural world, and can now harness useful mycorrhizal fungi to help feed plants and reduce the affect of drought, or introduce predators to fight pests.

Yes, innovation has a place in gardening, so its wonderful seeing manufacturers and retailers investing in the future of gardening.

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Let us know which innovations have most impressed you, and how they’ve helped improve your garden.

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