Now there is a company in the UK doing wonderful things for gardeners across our land, and chilli growers are well catered for as a lot of the items they sell work very well for optimising crop yield. I am of course talking about Greenhouse Sensation who started making their own products some time ago. One of the things the company is most proud of, is the fact the designing and manufacturing is done in the UK. During the 2013 growing season I have been using one of the companies more popular products, the Quadgrow for review. Now the season is over, here it is.
The product is bigger than I expected, at 130cm long its quite a beast in the box, and there are two boxes in total.
The contents are:
Main Reservoir with moulded lid, A & B Nutrients, Pack of 4 capillary matting ‘wicks’, 4 x 11 litre pots, Plastic Screws to hold the lid to the base
The main unit is a 30 litre tough plastic reservoir with a rectangular lid which is moulded, and has drainage holes and a hole for each wick. The moulding enables the 4 square pots to fit neatly on top. There is a piece cut off one end of the lid which simply sits there and is removable to enable watering.
Quadgrow with Nutrients & one wick installed
I am particularly impressed with the thickness of the black plastic and it appears very durable having been moulded from one piece there are no seams which can fail, a common problem with cheap water butts.
Assembly is a piece of cake too, with minimal parts, the lid sits of top and plastic screws join the lid to the base as a safety precaution. The only slightly fiddly part is the installation of the pots, wicks and compost but it just takes patience. To save me explaining this in detail, here is a video of my friend Jim from The Clifton Chilli Club setting one up. Please note that the Quadgrow in the video is a slightly earlier design so has the old style watering hole in the lid.
So that’s it set up and ready for use. The instructions say that you may have to water the top of each pot from time to time if the compost starts to dry out a little but I had no problems in this area, the wick worked very well at drawing up the water/nutrient mix into the compost so it always stayed just moist enough. Those who already grow chillies will know that the plants hate over watering, if compost is left too wet then the roots start to rot very quickly.
The science with the wick is that it only draws up nutrient water as needed, the roots therefor are able to get maximum oxygen in the compost and grow quickly which gives the plant the energy to grow big and strong and make producing chillies a doddle. The roots manage to fill the pot quickly and find their way through the wick hole and create a thick mat down into the reservoir by the end of the season. This all combines to give you up to double the yield of standard growbags or pots.
I was initially concerned with the amount of nutrients supplied once mixed with water, it just didn’t seem like enough to last the season but they did. Even with one of the sunniest summers in quite a while and the temperature in my polytunnel reaching 40+ degrees on quite a few occasions, the topping up the reservoir was never a problem, especially with the redesigned watering hole.
During the hottest period of the summer I was only topping up every few days and this was stretched to over a week or more in cooler weather. This is one of the products many key selling points, there is no need to water daily and you can go away on holiday leaving them to do their thing, so if you forget to check them after work you will have some grace!
I planted my Quadgrow with a Jay’s Ghost Scorpion Red and Peach and 2 Carolina Reapers. These were new varieties to the UK this season so a good test. All 3 varieties set chilli pods readily and it was interesting to compare the Jay’s to the other plants I had in normal pots. I found the Peach variety a very late producing plant and a very difficult plant to grow, always looking pale green but the one in the Quad Grow was always a deep lush green and produced some very gnarly large pods a lot earlier than the others.
All the plants grew very strong branches and side shoots, soon reaching at least 6 foot. The ‘trunks’ on the plants above the soil level grew very big, showing they were loving the conditions.I underestimated how big the plants would get as it became a struggle to get past them! The plants set lots of pods and these were all large and good quality.
Now my only negative with the product (and it can be seen as a positive too!) Because the plants grow so well in both height and width, they end up as one big mass of lush green foliage so it can be difficult to determine where one plant starts and another ends! not a problem if you are growing all the same variety but if you have 4 similar varieties it can be difficult working out which plant it came from. I’m sure a lot of research has gone into the spacing of the pots. I suppose it just demonstrates how well the unit works.
Now at the end of the growing season the pots can be emptied, the root ‘beards’ cut off and all the bits washed and stored ready for next year, just remembering to place your order for replacement wicks and nutrients.
As a Christmas gift, you will need a very large stocking but if you know a chilli/tomato grower, I’m sure they would love one of these, they are available direct from Greenhouse Sensation for £42.90 each or you can get two for £64.90, a saving of £20
The Quadgrow comes recommended by many people and has been reviewed in high profile magazines. It is used at River Cottage and at the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company where Alex Duck has had a whole Polytunnel devoted to them this year. I myself have recently taken on a new bigger growing space and am very tempted to put 2 or 3 rows of these in having seen the yield from Upton Cheyney.
The Quadgrow tunnel freshly planted at Upton Cheyney – Photo Alex Duck
Chilli variety Fatalii in the same tunnel just before harvest last week showing the yield – Photo Alex Duck
Amazingly I managed to repot one of the Carolina Reapers straight into a bigger pot and bring it inside, here it is under an LED grow light and shows no sign of slowing down, setting pods all over! The Quadgrow certainly creates a healthy plant.