Review: Gardeners’ Barrier Bar


I don’t generally do product reviews as I really believe that you need to try something thoroughly before you endorse it.  However, when I was contacted by Janiro enquiring if I was interested in trying their Barrier Bar  aimed at those of us whose hands suffer from too much work I jumped at the chance.

I get terribly dry hands when I am gardening, especially if I am potting plants up.  I think it has something to do with the compost.  I have tried all sorts of soaps aimed at gardeners but they never quite deliver.  It’s not only the dryness its the ingrained dirt that I struggle with which is a nightmare when you spend your evenings embroidering – not an ideal combination!  I have tried gardening in gloves but it just doesn’t work for me as I enjoy the feel of working with the soil just not the state of my hands afterwards.  I often wonder how the professional gardeners/horticulturists cope.

Anyway back to the product – the Barrier Bar is part of the Sheila’s Natural Products range.  You apply it to your hands, without water, before you go gardening creating a barrier – clue is in the name! The barrier dries in seconds with no stickiness and you are completely unaware of it.  After you have finished gardening you simply wash your hands and hey presto no dryness and no ingrained dirt; well apart from under the nails.

In addition the Barrier Bar is made completely from natural ingredients and handmade. The literature that came with my sample bar says that you can use the barrier on your feet, elbows and knees if you suffer with rough skin and that it can help protect age affected wafer thin skin.  The Barrier Bar is available via Janiro and does seem pricey for the size you get – £21.00 for 30g – which I expect reflects that the product is hand-made. It also comes in a tin as opposed to my sample above.   I have used my sample several times now and the bar seems to be almost the same size so I am guessing that a bar would last for some time.

Mine is now by the back door ready for my next foray into the garden.


Product Review – Garden Trough

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Mia Fleur have invited me to review a couple of the planters in their product range.  Mia Fleur are an online boutique which specialises in interior design products either designed by themselves or other UK designer makers.  I am all for supporting home grown talent and so I agreed to have a look.  They sent me two metal troughs; the small one measuring 17 x 28 x 17cm and the medium one measuring 18 x 33 x 21cm.  The troughs are made out of lightweight steel and have an attractive classical design embossed on the exterior.

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They are indeed lightweight but this does not make the planters flimsy or undermine the integrity of their strength at all.  The finish is rough such as if you run your hand over a terracotta pot rather than smooth and shiny which I think works well with plants.  I thought at first the troughs were intended for use in the garden and wondered why there were no drainage holes but reading the website I see that this is intentional so that the troughs can be used for indoor or outside planting.  However, my son assures me that it would be very easy to drill some drainage holes in the base should you wish to.

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The troughs are excellent for displaying the small pots of treasures that gardeners have a habit of acquiring and which can be difficult to display well.  I have used mine to display a couple of tender ferns and some succulents.  They would work very well with seasonal displays so maybe Spring would see a couple of small pots of snowdrops or iris reticulata or narcissus, in summer you could go for succulents or maybe herbs, the blues and greys of rosemary and sage would look very elegant, and in autumn/winter you could add some violas or pansies.

I am impressed with the quality of the troughs although I haven’t had time to see how they weather outside but given the reasonable price I don’t think that is a real issue.  With us beginning to think about winter and Christmas, they would certainly be a present I would be pleased to receive.


Product Review: Dalefoot Seed Compost


I don’t tend to review products as I feel that in order to provide a good review I need to test them properly and I am just too disorganised for that.  I can read a book, consider a plant but testing a product is more challenging.  However, I was rather tempted by the email asking me (some time ago – I told you I was disorganised) if I would consider review a new peat-free seed compost from Dalefoot Composts

Peat-free is one of those subjects that can really divide gardeners.  The alpine plant growers I know through the Alpine Garden Society tend to still rely on John Innes which is peat based.  However, there is a growing movement in horticulture that gardeners should stop their reliance on peat in composts.  I think the attraction of peat based composts is that they are good at retaining moisture whereas the majority of alternatives dry out very quickly and are hard to re-wet.  Personally I don’t have any strong views.  I do use John Innes for my bulbs and alpines and without guilt as I figure the amount I use is so small that it hardly makes an impact and really I would like to see the plant producers change their practice  across the board first.  When it comes to seeds and general potting up I sometimes go for peat free but it generally depends on what is available since there are a number of peat free brands that having used once I have no desire to use again.

Dalefoot Compost was particularly interesting to me since it is made of a combination of bracken and sheeps wool.  The bracken provides a high level of potash which is good for fruiting and flowering and the sheep wool provides nitrogen but also helps with water retention!  Interestingly, according to their website, rhubarb in Yorkshire is grown in wool!

Larkspur seedlings
Larkspur seedlings

I have to admit that I was anticipating a small bag of seed compost probably enough for a seed tray not a full size bag.  Unfortunately life got very busy at this point and it is only recently that I have got around to sowing some perennial seeds and so an opportunity to try out the compost became available.  I was surprised by the very open quality of the compost, I really dislike claggy compost as I feel the germinating seedlings have little chance of pushing through it. I sowed a range of perennials and annuals and  watered them well.  They went in the greenhouse and over the last three weeks, since sowing, I have only had to water them once a week and even then the seed trays haven’t completely dried out – this was very pleasing as I have struggled with before with peat-free compost and with germinating seeds you really don’t want to have the moisture of the compost changing radically.

Today, I was delighted to see that the Larkspur and Cerinthe had started to germinate and look good and strong.

Admittedly the compost is quite  expensive compared to the standard and well-known makes you can get in your local garden centre.  This is a bit of a stumbling block for me but it depends on how much compost you use and what your budget is like.  I suppose it comes down to that old adage ‘You pays your money, you take your choice’. However,  I will definitely consider using this compost again as I really like the texture of it and if peat based compost is going to be withdrawn from the market over the coming years then this would be an excellent alternative.


Product Review: PureRain Watering System


I was asked a while ago to review a new innovation for plant watering, needless to say since I received the purerain handheld gun it has rained.  However the other week the temperatures briefly warmed up and I gave it a whirl.

The concept behind the innovation is to aerate tap water.  Why? I hear you ask do I want to do this.  Rain water contains oxygen, apparently gathered as th raindrops fall through the air and this helps the plants to extract nutrients more effectively.  Plants are dependant on air and water in their cells to help them work.  In fact only this week I was reading a magazine article where the author, Bob Flowerdew, commented that watering pots with tap water wasn’t as good as rain water as it contained less air.  However, whilst many of us have water butts during a dry spell these often don’t have sufficient capacity to fulfil all our needs and if you are like me you tend to connect the hose to the outside tap through habit.

The way that the purerain system aerates the water is by colliding the fast moving water against a curved surface. This works in the same way as a weir or waterfall aerates a river. After the water has been aerated it then moves forward and out of the holes at the front of the Gun. Due to all the mains pressure being lost on impact the water doesn’t leave the gun with as much power as it would with a normal gun so you need to be close to the plants you are watering. There is an option with a long handle which I would recommend if you, like me, tend to use the hose to water plants that are difficult to reach such as hanging baskets and the back of the border. I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical about how much air you can generate in this way.  However, when we tried it out the other weekend it was quite amazing how frothy the water was and clear that it was very oxygenated.

I haven’t done any trials to see if the oxygenated water promotes better growth or not but the manufacturers claim that leafy plants will grow up to 30% larger plus because they are taking up nutrients better there is less need for fertilisers and pesticides.

I think that if you are someone who likes a gizmo and do a lot of watering using tap water then this would be worth looking at.  The prices are reasonable and you can locate a stockist through the purerain website