Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Must have greenhouse gadgets

Sometimes a few well-chosen accessories and tools can make life not only much easier, but also more satisfying too. You’ve probably got a favourite spatula for scraping the cake basin and a trusty bread knife, but what’s your go to greenhouse gadget? Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

Watering wizards

Bottle top watering seedling

One of the challenges in the greenhouse is keeping things watered, especially in late spring and summer. I use a range of self-watering trays and planters to keep my plants alive. They have a reservoir for water, that feeds to the plants in pots usually via capillary matting. I keep the water topped up and the reservoir will keep my plants alive for a week or so which is especially great if I am away for a few days. There are lots of different types of self-watering devices available. It helps to have a greenhouse tap where you can easily keep things watered and trays topped up. I also have a greenhouse hosepipe with an adjustable hose end that can be changed from a fiery blast to a gentle wash to suit seedlings, plants and established planters.

Another great watering gadget that can be invaluable is a micro-drip watering system. These direct small amounts to water directly into your pots via a fine water pipe and nozzles.

I also use some mini watering roses that screw onto empty drink bottles, transforming your old lemonade bottle into a handy watering device. This is great, because you can fill the bottles, allow the water to reach greenhouse temperature and then water your plants.

Potting tray

I am the first to admit I am a messy gardener. So, potting up and pricking out can create a fair bit of compost falling around my work station. But there’s a really simple solution that keeps all my tools and paraphernalia neat and tidy while I sow seeds and pot things up; a potting tray. It’s a bit like a baby’s bib catching everything that is dropped. Mine has a few little tool holders where I can store my dibber and potting tools. It’s great to have a dedicated area on the potting bench that will keep everything tidy and you work. Potting trays are widely available.

Soil scoop

Burgon & Ball Soil Scoop

Together with my potting tray a good compost scoop ensures that not a scrap of compost goes to waste. That’s more important than ever with the cost of everything on the rise. It’s a more curvaceous version of a trowel, which of course will do the job, just not as well. But a compost scoop envelops a small amount of compost and holds it within its curved sides making it virtually seamless to drop it into a pot with little spillage. It’s perfect for filling small round pots when you are potting up. It’s probably my favourite greenhouse tool. The one I use is a Sophie Conran design for Burgon & Ball.

Tomato yoyo plant spools

Supporting your tomatoes can be a challenge in the greenhouse. They grow fast and tall and need tying in regularly. I’ve used these little devices, tomato yoyo plant spools, for training my tomatoes for years. Each one has a spool or a reel of line which is attached high up in the greenhouse and then attaches to the base of the tomato plant and the string unravels as the tomato grows, supporting it until it reaches the reel at the top.

Spider Vac

You might think this is a bit random, but in my greenhouse, a spider vac is invaluable. And that’s because I often get queen bumblebees and wasps stuck in my greenhouse up in the eaves especially in spring and summer. The spider vac is a really great way to rescue them. It’s a battery powered mini vacuum, with a long tube that will reach up into the greenhouse eaves. If you can get the tube near the bee, it will gently suck it into the tube, so that you can release it safely into the garden. I’ve lost count of the number of bees I have rescued safely using my spider vac. Oh and I don’t move spiders out the greenhouse because they are part of the ecosystem inside my glasshouse and feed on a few of the less desirable greenhouse squatters.

Cut and hold

Gardena GripCut

I grow a lot of microgreens and herbs in my greenhouse, especially in spring and early summer. As the greenhouse starts to fill up with half hardy plants waiting to be planted out after the first frost, the staging and greenhouse shelves are packed full of young plants. Reaching into the forest of leaves to harvest herbs and salads can be a bit precarious. But my nifty pair of Gardena GripCut snips are just perfect because they hold each stem as you cut so that you can drop them into your harvest bowl safely. Ideal for snipping microgreens, stems of herbs and even larger leaves and fruits as your plants mature, these perfect pruners are a must have in my greenhouse kit.

Seed tin

Burgon & Ball Seed Tin

If you are anything like me, you get a bit carried away ordering seeds??? I find a seed tin a really handy way to keep my seeds organised, you can divide them into sowing months or even into sections still to sow, or already sown. BUT, I wouldn’t keep the tin in the greenhouse, because it could get too hot and bake your seeds. Instead keep it indoors somewhere dry and cool. You’ll probably find yourself reordering the packets and drooling over the plants to come. And that’s ok!

What are your favourite greenhouse gadgets? I’d love to know!