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egs_toppicI realised this weekend that I’ve been going to the Edible Garden Show every year since it started. In that time I’ve watched it grow from a tentative toe-in-the-water one room wonder (I still think they badly underestimated the popularity of their own show that first year) to the three-room-one-tent-and-a-bit-outdoors extravaganza it is today.

It’s still growing, too: they’re planning to move the whole thing south to Alexandra Palace in London next year. I can’t help feeling that’s a loss to the cause of having more shows further north than the Watford Gap; but on the other hand I can see why they’re doing it. At the moment this is a show for kitchen garden aficionados: you have to really want to go to make the trek to the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Plonk it inside the M25, though, and you’ve opened up a whole new potential audience of quite keen but not so much so they’d want to actually leave the city urban food growers too.

One of its great strengths, and one which I hope it won’t lose when it heads south, is that you always, always find something different there. Last year, if I remember rightly, it was a solar-powered automatic irrigation system; the year before, a water butt that looked startlingly like a urinal. Well: some ideas are more successful than others, I suppose.

This year, too, there were some intriguing, ingenious and occasionally incomprehensible new approaches to growing your own. Here are just some of them.

egs_bedcover

Not sure whether to call Veg Trugs a raised bed on legs, or a table: whatever, it’s a veg bed at waist height which is great if you’re growing in small spaces especially if you’re managing without any soil to plant into. And now they’ve brought out these crop covers which just zip into place over rugged frames which slot onto the sides. They’d work just as well partnered up with a conventional raised bed, too.

egs_sieve

Having just about broken my back this spring sieving home-made compost so I didn’t end up spending all summer picking bits of half-rotted cardboard out of my mulch, this one really caught my eye. It’s from West Midlands based Castlefield, and like all the best ideas it’s really very simple. It’s a socking great big rectangular sieve, of the kind of quantity you need for barrowloads of compost, which slots over your wheelbarrow on a no-nonsense frame. Brilliant.

egs_waterbutt

Collapsible water butts. I’m finding it impossible to make up my mind over whether this is bonkers or brilliant. Invented by a company called Colapz (see what they did there?) there is a watering can that folds up into a little disc, too. Fabulous if you’re short of space, though quite why you’d want to put away a water butt I’m not exactly sure.

egs_seedpacket

Ooh I did like these gift cards (and bookmarks, and gift tags) from Big Tree, Little Tree. Each has a little applique flower on it which is ‘seeded’. Bury it in a pot of compost and… it’s a gift that lasts all year. There are strawberries, cabbages, leeks, lettuces and poppies in the range, too. My birthday’s coming up in about a month, by the way…

egs_obelisk

You’ve heard of obelisks – well, this one hangs in the air. It’s rather elegant, too: quite an original take on your run-of-the-mill hanging baskets, I thought. The people at Dr Growgood who sell these things recommend them for clematis and the like, but I’m not so sure: I can’t see your average Bill MacKenzie being happy with its roots trussed up in a sunny hanging basket. But I do think it would be perfect for annual climbers: perhaps some Spanish flag, or a morning glory tumbling up and over in a big blue waterfall. Now that would be a sight worth seeing.

egs_graftedtom

Grafted veg are going from strength to strength. As ever, Suttons is leading the way: their range now includes grafted peppers, cucumbers, aubergines and even melons. And this year they’re offering plants with more than one variety grafted onto the same rootstock. This one is, or rather are, Tomato ‘Florryno’ and ‘Orangino’, both tiny little cherry varieties. While I’m a little sceptical about grafted veg – I’ve tried them, and the difference isn’t that remarkable – this I get. Who wouldn’t want twice the varieties from the same growing space? Inspired.

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