For those of you that grow chillies, especially the superhot varieties, you will know one thing. That being the seeds can be notoriously difficult to germinate, with some varieties taking 6-8 weeks or more. Unlike tomato seeds which can only take a couple of days to ‘pop’, chilli seeds will often test the most patient grower waiting for the little green hoop to emerge from the compost. Chilli seeds need between 28-30 degrees for optimum germination so a good propagator should be part of any chilli growers equipment list, and the Vitopod Heated propagator from Greenhouse Sensation is one of many on the market.
So is it any good? Well I have the large single height Vitopod to trial, the Vitopods come in small (56cm x 55cm x 24cm) or large (111cm x 58cm x 23cm) with the option of buying both versions in a double height version. In fact you can buy the height extensions separately too.
The unit comes with a very solid feeling base which houses the heating elements and the plastic sides and lids come in pieces and require a small amount of assembly. The end panels and lids have green twist open vents to help regulate the temperature and humidity levels. All the materials used ooze quality, something we have come to expect with Greenhouse Sensation products, designed in Britain and made in Britain.
There are many heated propagators on the market but a lot do suffer with hot spots and irregular heating but it is good to know that the Vitopod can maintain a set temperature.
The Vitopod comes with an electronic thermostat to enable even heating, which plugs into the wall socket and then the propagator plug gets plugged into that so it becomes a switch, turning the heating element off when the desired temperature is achieved.
This thermostat has had a revamp at the end of 2013, it now looks very futuristic and unlike it’s predecessor now has a backlight so the display is much easier to read. There is also a handy slot on the back enabling the unit to be hung away from the floor.
The Vitopod can be programmed to heat to and maintain any temperature between 5 and 30 degrees, accurate to 1 degree. There is a sensor on a wire which you feed through one of the side vents. Obviously the units ability to heat to a specified level is subject to the ambient temperature around it.
I have been using it under growlights which add radiated heat through the plastic so I have to make sure that all the vents are open when the lights are on otherwise the air inside will continue to heat up past 30 degrees.
The thermostat is very easy to use, a quick press of the green circle button enables you to set the desired temperature using the + & – buttons, the bottom figure is the set temperature, the top figure is the current temperature and while it is heating up, the blue circle is displayed.
I started sowing superhot chilli seeds so set the Vitopod to 30 degrees which takes about 15 minutes to achieve. I have so far achieved great results with it with seeds germinating far quicker than in previous years using cheaper propagators. I have only had one variety fail to appear but I am putting that down to bad seed.
Now on to the price, I have to admit they are far from cheap but as with a lot of things in life, you really do get what you pay for, great build quality, great functionality and great customer service and the product is British made too.
Plus £4.95 delivery
They may be out of some peoples budgets but if you need reliable germination then frankly there is nothing better out there.