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.