Kitchen Garden · Product Reviews

Windowsill Propagator Heat Mat

Our chilli pepper seeds have germinated much sooner than usual thanks to a windowsill propagator heat mat. We mentioned in a recent post we were using one in a trial and would blog about it if we liked it.

In just 8 days the first seedlings appeared with more popping up over the following days. As expected, a couple of seeds haven’t germinated but we have more than enough seedlings due to sowing more than we need.

The windowsill heat mat we are using looks like this:

It’s simple to use, just plug it in and place on the windowsill of your choice. We covered our seed trays with clear lids to help with humidity and kept the heat mat on for most of the day, switching off at night (purely for our own peace of mind!) allowing a radiator to provide a source of heat. The heat mat fits a standard size windowsill without hanging over the edge and can take up to two full sized trays, much more if the trays are smaller. It heats up quickly and doesn’t get too hot to the touch.

If you’re interested in getting this particular heat mat you’ll find it here. Priced at £16.49 with free UK delivery it’s a cheaper alternative to most heated propagators but still an expense. If this doesn’t suit your budget it’s still possible to germinate some seed by using a radiator or warm airing cupboard. Once germinated, seedlings can grow at lower temperatures in a bright room. It will take longer but you should see some decent results.

If you do decide to get one please do let us know how you’re getting on.

Product Reviews

Hen and Hammock Fertilizer T Bag

hen and hammock

I was kindly sent a fertilizer T bag by Hen and Hammock to try.

The T bag is a natural hessian bag with nettles inside, to use it simply immerse in a water butt and leave it there (using the string and stick to make it easy to retrieve), or tie the string to the handle of a watering can to make a nitrogen-rich nettle feed for the garden or allotment to invigorate your plants or veg. Keep in place for 6 weeks in a water butt and change the T bag after about 4 weeks continuous use in a watering can. It works just like making a cup of tea, all the lovely goodness seeps out of the T bag and stays in the water.

hen and hammock

Another great thing is the T bag is biodegradable (including the packaging, except the staples), so after you’re done just throw it on your compost heap. It seems really simple to use and an alternative to making your own nettle tea, which of course is simple to do too.  I’ll certainly use my T bag on my allotment next year to see how it performs.

Hen and Hammock offer a choice of two fillings; a nitrogen T bag (nettle) great for flowering plants, shrubs and salad crops and a potash T bag (sheep manure) ideal for tomatoes, beans and root crops. They’d make perfect gifts for eco-friendly gardeners!

Product Reviews

Rust Linear Lanterns – Garden Product Review

Rust Linear Lanterns, Jo Alexander
Rust Linear Lanterns, Jo Alexander

Our new garden offers us the opportunity to grow our own fresh produce and to keep chickens, as our previous garden did. However, a large section of garden closest to the house is very much designed for entertaining. Providing summer actually arrives this year we realise this section of our garden will be very popular with family and friends. It’s one of the reasons we chose to live here and we consider ourselves very fortunate to have the facilities and space that we do and to comfortably use the garden in different ways. Everyone’s happy. But I’ll be even happier when I have my new veg garden to potter about in.

I was contacted recently by Jo Alexander and asked to review a pair of rust linear garden lanterns. Not the usual thing I would consider reviewing but seeing as we’re looking forward to using our new garden for entertaining on those warm summer nights (hopefully), dining outside and enjoying a glass of wine by candlelight is very appealing. The lanterns arrived carefully packaged with no self assembly required. For the price of £14.99 for a pair they are well made and pleasing on the eye, finished in a stylish rust-coloured effect with clear glass tea-light holders which slot easily into the ornate wire holder. They’re designed to be pushed into garden borders or pots, perfect for intimate dining by candlelight. Measuring 90cm high they could also be used to light a pathway and would make a lovely inexpensive gift.

I found them to be lightweight yet sturdy, elegantly blending into the garden setting. I’m more than happy to have a pair of these lovely lanterns in my garden. Thank you Patricia for contacting me to review this product.

Jo Alexander is a privately owned garden furniture and accessories company based in nearby Cambridge, you can view more stylish garden products including wildlife boxes ( I particularly love the bee house!) by visiting

Product Reviews

Water-Butt – Garden Product Review

Our local garden centres have sold out of water-butts due to the recent hose pipe ban, there’s now a waiting list on deliveries. Luckily, I was asked to review a water-butt recently. I did wonder what on earth I could write about a water-butt, they’re pretty self-explanatory and not exactly the most attractive of garden items, but, they are probably one of the most useful tools in your garden. Unless you shop around (or make one yourself) they can be rather pricey too, I’ve noticed.

The 200 litre water-butt arrived at my doorstep very quickly, it was well packaged but not over the top, avoiding unnecessary waste. It came supplied with a stand which was a pleasant surprise, I know from experience water-butt stands can be just as expensive as the water-butt itself (of course there are other alternatives to use such as breeze blocks or bricks). All the parts where there, nothing missing.

One niggle though, the tap needed to be fitted and I found this very tricky to do on my own – my arms were just not long enough to reach. I needed the help of Rich, my other half to hold the water-butt still on its side while I crawled inside to screw the tap tight. Rich did try, being 6 ft tall (much taller than me with longer arms) he also found it impossible. So, unless you have extraordinarily long arms, you will need someone to help you fit the tap.

Once the tap was fitted I noticed it displays ‘On’ and ‘Off’, a simple feature I agree but one that the water-butt at my allotment doesn’t have. I’ve accidentally lost water by leaving the tap open (once the water-butt was emptied), simply because I was wasn’t aware if the tap was closed or not. Now I do it by memory but it would be nice to have the status of the tap visible. All I need to do now is connect it up to the greenhouse permanently, at the moment it’s stood there, catching all the April showers.

For the price of £35.99 it’s good value for money, considering the amount of water it will hold, the stand, lockable lid (great safety feature if you have young children) and the easy turning tap. Thank you Idealo UK for contacting me and supplying the water-butt. If you would like to view other products from Idealo UK, visit their website: