One of the side effects of having a blog is the emails I sometimes receive. There are ones I don’t even bother opening, generally with words such as Viagra in them. There was a request to use a photo from my post on Derek Jarman’s garden for a Hungarian art magazine which was featuring an article on artists and their gardens. And then, occasionally, I’m asked to review products. Generally I turn down these offers. I’ve no desire for the blog to become an advertising ground for other companies. There’s also the problem with the ethics of a company. My blog is a very personal thing and I don’t like the idea of being linked to products that may damage the environment or with companies I know little about. I don’t like to stray too far from the themes of gardening, the environment and the countryside but you’d be surprised at the companies that contact me. There was talk on twitter a few weeks ago amongst garden bloggers about who had received emails from a PR company asking them to blog about the wonders of Velcro. Is Velcro that useful to gardeners? I recently was sent an offer of writing about AGA cleaning products. Firstly, I’m not sure of the relevance of AGA cleaning products to the people who read my blog and secondly, I’m not sure how I can review AGA cleaning products without an AGA.
This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that occasionally I will get asked to review something that intrigues me, is actually relevant and I really like the sound of the company behind the product. And this is how I happen to have come across the Dribber. Designed by the team at Hen and Hammock the idea was to combine several tasks in one tool. Measuring 20cm long the dribber is designed to fit standard and half-sized seed trays and allows you to drill lines for seed sowing, dib holes for individual seeds and then tamp down the surface of the compost.
I have to admit I’m not much of a gadget girl as my kitchen cupboards will attest. I’m not an asparagus steamer or pasta maker type of person and this follows into the garden. Generally, this is because of a lack of space to store all these tools and once you’ve managed to function without them for so long why bother accumulating more stuff but I do like the idea of a product that multi-tasks.
The dribber is beautifully made in Shropshire. The wood is oak, grown sustainably but, unfortunately, imported from America. But as Andrew, from Hen and Hammock, points out there is very little sustainable oak grown here in the UK. Perhaps if we managed our woodland more effectively we would be able to exploit them more successfully as a sustainable resource.
Wooden tools always feel so nice to handle. There’s a warmth to the wood that you don’t get with metal or plastic and there’s a feeling that this is a product that will last. Like the old tools you can see in the potting shed at Heligan, quality tools like this feel like they’ll be around for a long time.
When it comes to seed sowing I tend to be a bit haphazard. My RHS tutor would shudder at that sentence. Trying to grow all of my plants for the allotment using one windowsill means that I have to maximise the space I have and this includes in the trays and pots when I sow. I tend to split seed trays up into 3 or 4 sections and start off 3 or 4 different varieties rather than devoting one tray to one type of plant. I also sow quite closely together and then prick out and plant on quickly. The spacing of the dribber is quite generous compared to what I would normally do, but there is also the ability to use it as a drill. There aren’t any seeds that I need to sow at the moment but I did do a dummy run in the shed a few days ago and it does what it says and is nice to use. With my new greenhouse and the ability to have a potting bench now, rather than using the floor outside my shed, I plan to be much more organised and methodical about my seed sowing and this tool will certainly be well used come the spring.
It’s the quality of the dribber, its sustainable credentials and it’s mulit-tasking that really are its selling points, in my opinion, and it is something that would make a great stocking filler for a gardening friend or family member. The price of £8.50, I think, is reasonable for such a well made piece and shows that British-made, sustainable products don’t have to be expensive.
I also like the ethos behind Hen and Hammock. A small independent company, their belief is that it is possible to have nice products for our homes and gardens that are long-lasting, made sustainably and in a way that doesn’t damage the planet. They also donate 10% of profits to non-profit organisations every year. They have a great range of products not just for the garden. Perhaps one of my favourite features about their website is the ‘meet the producers’ page. So many of the goods we buy nowadays are mass-produced by anonymous people somewhere. OK, most of us don’t have time to research where everything we buy comes from and their environmental credentials, but a company like Hen and hammock does that for you. For instance, there is Ken, a carpenter, who collects waste wood from local builders and makes traditional wooden seed trays or Damien, the last garden riddle maker in the UK who crafts beautiful garden tools from beech wood.
For more information and to see a great range of products which might inspire you, with Christmas coming, take a look at Hen and Hammock’s website.