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Which? Gardening turns 30, what would you like us to trial?

We’re celebrating Which? Gardening’s 30th birthday by looking through the archives. We’ve trialled everything from organic pest controls to petunias, from roses to rotavators. And we want your ideas for more trials!

Which? Gardening’s archives make fascinating reading – and not just for the interesting haircuts of colleagues past and present.

In 1982, gardening was less about lifestyle and more about hard work. Veg was grown to save money, power tools were expensive and clunky, and chemicals were used liberally. Peat was used like it was going out of fashion (it later did) and no one had heard of food miles. TV makeover shows such as Ground Force had yet to hit our screens and allotments were a strictly male domain.

The first issues of Which? Gardening featured trials of secateurs, hedge trimmers, tulip bulb suppliers, composts and moss killers – all good, practical stuff that we still cover today.

But in many ways the magazine was ahead of its time. It covered organic growing long before it became fashionable, looked at ‘exotic’ veg way before most people had heard of pak choi, and campaigned to get more kids in schools gardening. It even extolled the virtues of loofahs (they didn’t catch on).

What should we put to the test?

Trials are what make Which? Gardening unique, of course, and it’s been fascinating to discover the lengths that the magazine has gone to when trying out a new product or plant.

Some trials are the stuff of legend: in 1993, a large bed of roses was cut to the ground with a hedge trimmer. It was found that rough pruning them in this way worked just as well as traditional techniques. In 2003, 500 readers experimented with growing crops according to the lunar calendar. They concluded that where the moon was didn’t matter – but that weather conditions did.

The magazine still strives to find the tastiest fruit and veg, the most beautiful and robust plants and the best possible products. It trims acres of turf every year to find the best mowers, sprays tools with salt water to see if they rust, spools and unspools hoses 300 times to see if they kink and deliberately infects roses with black spot. As I write, millions of whitefly are poised to meet their maker in a trial of aphid controls.

So, is there anything you’d like to see Which? Gardening cover? A technique you’d like us to put the test? A product you’d like to see put through its paces? Or a type of fruit or veg you’d like us to grow and taste? We’re currently putting our 2014 schedule together and would love to hear from you.


I was looking at polytunnels and noted that you could buy a cheap one for less than £100 but that many were in the £500 range. A review of polytunnels might be interesting.

Also worth testing with the phasing out of dangerous weedkillers would be the flameguns and also electric guns for killing weeds. They are re under £100 but the costs of the two systems and the efficacy of the electric”gun” are of great interest.

Paraffin is quite expensive, but not as bad as the little ones that use gas cartridges. I expect that an electric gun would be painfully slow, based not he performance of electric paint strippers. I’m fully in support of avoiding weedkillers.

I have recently become aware of roottrainer pots and wonder if they are worth buying. A first look or study comparing them with standard methods would be interesting.

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abe says:
16 June 2017

I would like garden plants prices quality tested with well known garden centres and supermakets and diy store plants. Aldi lidl pound shop plants bulbs.

Some of the gardening magazines and the weekend newspapers undertake this sort of comparison from time to time, Abe.

Rosaleen Davison says:
7 May 2018

I can’t find an up to date trial of garden shears? Who makes the best and most reliable pair..?

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I’ve found useful information here Rosaleen:

Here is one from June 19 if you are still looking Roasaleen https://www.wonderfulwellies.co.uk/best-garden-shears-review-uk/ I got a pair of Spear & Jacksons for around £20 that have served me well 🙂

Eduardo says:
12 February 2020

I am learning a lot here, thanks to this post and comments. I will surely have a try and look at these trials.

How about cordless garden tools. Seem to be plenty of new brands coming out for example https://www.cordlessgardenequipment.co.uk/ amongst others. Seems no one has done recent reviews about the new brands that seem to be arriving on the market.