Back in 2008 I was treated to a Vitopod electric propagator. My conclusion after 8 years is that it is one of the best investments a serious gardener can make. It’s not just useful for propagating, it’s great for over-wintering tender plants as well.
The Vitopod is available in two base sizes, the large (double) one being roughly 2 x 4 feet and the single half that size. I strongly suggest you go for the double if you can. Like a greenhouse, whatever size you have you could always do with a little more room.
The Vitopod base is a solid, heavy plastic tray about 2″ deep which contains the heating elements. The base draws 100 watts so it’s powerful as these things go, useful if the weather springs a surprise and temperatures plummet.
The temperature is controlled by a separate thermostat with one degree accuracy. It’s actually designed for aquariums and terrariums where people keep reptiles which require close temperature control.
This means your plants are exactly at the right temperature and it reduces energy usage.
It comes as standard with clear UV stabilised Perspex sides about 6″ high and the lid is slightly domed. This gives just over 8″ growing height which is about the same as most other propagators.
The problem with that height is that when tomatoes move into pots or over-wintering a tender fuschia, their isn’t enough head-room. Leaving the top off means heat is wasted, increasing your electricity bill and the danger of plants being damaged in a real cold snap in an unheated greenhouse.
The thing I love about the Vitopod is that you can buy it with double height sides and even buy an extra layer on top of that, giving enough head room to create a mini-greenhouse within your greenhouse and take really early plants like chilli peppers through to the warmer weather.
As every grower knows, the big problem with propagators is that they get humid with condensation dripping down the sides. This is a recipe for damping off and fungal disease. The sides and lids of the Vitopod come with large controllable vents so you can keep your plants warm but avoid the dangerous humidity.
My only criticism is the assembly instructions. I expect they’re good enough for most people but I’m useless with this sort of thing. I managed to put the sides together inside out, but it only took a few minutes to realise and fix my mistake.
For more information on the Vitopod, usage instructions etc. and to purchase go to Harrod Horticulture
Vitopod in My Greenhouse
Unfortunately it was difficult to get a decent photo of my Vitopod in our home lean-to greenhouse. The thermostatic controller is the blue and back box above on the side of the house. The thermostatic sensor is in the propagator. On the right are Val’s summer hanging baskets and above some strings of chillies drying.