I'm always on the lookout for products that can help me to keep my plants in good condition without having loads of artificial and potentially harmful chemicals in them. I am as keen as the next gardener to stop the "beasties" destroying my precious plants, but I know that what kills the bugs can often do us humans some harm as well. For this reason I was very pleased to be contacted by Herbwise Organic Solutions, suggesting that I might like to try some free samples of their products, which are all made from natural beneficial ingredients.
When they first approached me it was Autumn, at a time when I was not much in need of these things, but in early February this year I started using the product called "Cultivate", which is a plant food. I'm assured it is very suitable for chillis, and that is where I am using it. Lorna from H.O.S. says this: "In regards to chillies, from testing 'Cultivate' gives an increase in flavonoid content, the fruits seem more 'real' for want of a better phrase. Some species of plants react by an increase in yield while something like a typical Birds Eye chilli plant just has better developed seeds inside at harvest and a slightly more rounded taste. The size will remain in the normal range though you will tend to find there are more stems and therefore in the end more chillies."
In the past I have tried various other products on my chillis, like Chilli Focus, and even Tomorite, so it will be interesting to see how Cultivate compares. It's early days yet, but my over-Wintered chilli plants are looking nice and strong already, so maybe some of this is due to the Cultivate.
The main products supplied by H.O.S. are "Cultivate", a plant food; "Eradicate", an insecticide; and "Detonate" which allegedly promotes an "explosion" of flowers! I have been supplied with one of each. Each product comes in a plastic 500ml bottle with a screw top. At £12, Cultivate sounds expensive, but you have to consider that before use it is diluted at the rate of 25ml (one capful) per 500ml of water, so one bottle will go a long way. Furthermore, the price includes delivery, so I think that makes it very reasonable.
My only complaint - and it's hardly a complaint, more of an observation - is that the labels are not very clear, nor particularly attractive. The product names are quite hard to discern. I think a distinctive logo would be more appropriate, instead of the rather un-enterprising "H.O.S.". I also think a back-label with a description of the product and instructions for use would be a good addition.
It is too early for me to judge the effectiveness of these products, but I will certainly be making use of them throughout the season and will report my findings later. In the meantime, my thanks go to Lorna and Daniel at H.O.S. for providing such a generous sample.