In my last newsletter I asked if anyone knew what was going on with Greenhouse Sensation as they’d ceased trading. Thanks to my subscribers, I know what happened and I’ve had some suggestions for replacing the products and spares we can no longer get.
I’ll start with replacements and alternatives before looking at what happened to Greenhouse Sensation.
Replacing Greenhouse Sensation Products
I’ve been a fan of Greenhouse Sensation’s products for many years. Their demise is a great shame for me and many other growers. You can see reviews of their products I produced over the years below:
- Quadgrow Tomato Growing System Reviewed
- Nutrigrow Fertiliser
- Salad & Veg Planter Review
- Geopod Propagators with Grow Lights Reviewed
- Vitopod Electric Propagator Review
Vitopod & Geopod Propagator Replacement Parts
Electric base, sides and lids. I’ve not found products that are exact equivalents for these. If you have suggestions please let me know in the comments below.
Greenhouse Sensation Vitopod Replacement
Replacing the Vitopod or Geopod basically means buying a different propagator.
One replacement that I know works well for seed germination as I have one is this Quadruple Propagator from TwoWests
You can’t increase the depth of the clear trays but you can just buy the heating tray and build a frame to go over it with clear perspex or polythene. If you don’t feel creative then TwoWests sell a cover that will do the job designed to work with an electric blanket system. Barn style cover
The gentle bottom heat will keep plants just placed on a heated tray from frosting in most cold weather. But if the weather turns extremely cold then you will need some sort of cover to keep the temperature something like.
OK, it’s not a Vitopod and certainly building a frame over a heated tray is a lot less convenient, but it’s a pretty good replacement and it will cost you less money.
Another option is to buy an EarlyGrow extendable propagator from TwoWests. Very similar in concept to Vitopod although smaller and quite pricy.
Stewart 52cm Propagator
For starting seeds and bringing on seedlings later in the season when light levels are better, I’ve found the generally available Stewart Essentials Heated Propagator (52cm X 42cm 28cm) excellent.
The clear perspex cover is robust and has built in vents to help control humidity. The base is quite deep and can take grit or a watering mat to help increase humidity.
They’re good value around £30.00 to £35.00 on Ebay.
Combined with a thermostat – see below – to control it you don’t need to worry about overheating so much on a sunny day.
Thermostat Temperature Controller
If you need a new thermostat for a Greenhouse Sensation Vitopod or Geopod, I’d recommend the Root!t Thermostat from TwoWests and other suppliers
If you have two or three propagators, the Root!t Thermostat will control up to 1000 watts. The average propagator is around 20 watts.
Just put the sensor in one propagator and plug all the rest of them into the thermostat. You can use a multi-plug adaptor to connect them all. It’s a fair bet the temperature in one propagator will be the same as the others within a degree or so.
Vitopod / Geopod Propagator Lighting
Both the Vitopod and Geopod used Sunblaster T5 lights which are available from a number of suppliers. If you’re looking to set up a new system then consider using LED lighting. They’re more efficient, should last longer and can be tuned to the best wavelengths for vegetative growth or flowers.
Replacement Vitopod / Geopod Propagator Fluorescent Tubes
Searching Google brings up numerous suppliers but I had this by email:
My Greenhouse Sensations Vitopod came with 2 x 39 Watt fluorescent light tubes – T5 Nano-Tech Sunblasters. They were fitted with Canadian tubes both of which blew after just 3 months of use. The exact replacements from the place I bought them from were very expensive and I sourced a different supplier. I have had T5-HO tubes in now for 3 years and still going strong.
The direct replacements are “Osram HO 39W865” and cost about £2.00 each instead of about£13.00 each and anyone should be able to pick them up at their local supplier of fluorescent lights. Other manufacturers also do equivalent bulbs fora replacement.
Greenhouse Sensation Quadgrow, Chilligrow Planter, Salad & Veg Planter etc.
The only replacement part that the Quadgrow, Chilligrow planters needed regularly were the FeederMats. These are just wicks to draw up the water or nutrient solution into the pot above. Just buy some horticultural capillary matting – loads of suppliers on Ebay – and spend 5 minutes cutting out wicks. Use the old ones as a template.
The pots are just 11 litre square black pots. Use a hole saw to make a larger hole in the base for the wick to go through.
The newer Quadgrow was split into two halves joined by pipes etc. I felt this was a backward step as it complicated things. Thanks to another newsletter subscriber pointing out a company called SolarGrow. They used to manage Greenhouse Sensation’s demonstration greenhouse on the same industrial estate. Looking on their website I found they are stocking some Greenhouse Sensation products and spares.
Wicking Pot Grow System
The Quadgrow and associated planters are basically wicking pot systems. I’ve played about with making a low-cost replacement and think I’ve cracked it! I’ll be putting a post on this, possibly with a video, in the near future.
I’ve used the Nutrigrow feed for many years with great results. I’ve now found a replacement for Nutrigrow that is simple to use and I think more effective. S-Chelate 12 Star It has a slightly different formula, containing sulphur in addition to the same micronutrients as Nutrigrow. I’ve posted a long article going through the technical details and usage details here: Nutrigrow Replacement Fertiliser
What Happened to Greenhouse Sensation
According to documents available from Companies House, Nutriculture UK Ltd was the company behind Greenhouse Sensations. There is a company called Greenhouse Sensations Ltd but it was dormant. I suspect the owners may have set that up to stop anybody else setting up a company with the same name.
Company Enters Administration due to Insolvency
On 17th November 2022 the company behind Greenhouse Sensations entered administration and “A sale of the Company’s intellectual property, goodwill, tangible assets and stock was completed on 24 November 2022 by the Administrators.” This was, I understand from the administrator’s documents, a sale set up prior to the company entering administration.
Nutriculture Ltd – Owners of Greenhouse Sensation Financial Statements
Nutriculture Ltd’s financial statements are interesting. Quite what proportion of the sales was made directly from Greenhouse Sensations I don’t know but it seems a reasonable guess that most of the business came from there.
In the year to November 2019 the turnover was £15,343,000 and the company made £77,000 profit before tax. The following year to November 2020 was after the pandemic started with its lockdowns and surge of interest in gardening as people stayed at home. Turnover rose to £20,891,000 and profit before tax to £422,000.
Things seem to have gone wrong over the next 18 months and whilst the company had sales of £26,724,000 up to May 2022 it lost £965,000 and in the following 4 months to September 2022 they lost a further £710,000 before tax. Yet the balance sheet still showed net assets in September 2022 of £2,205,000.
By the time the dust was settling in November 2022 the estimated total deficiency to creditors was £2,076,401
Quite how a well respected company that had operated from the 1970s with a fantastic reputation and sales of the level enjoyed by Nutriculture Ltd / Greenhouse Sensations managed to get into such a mess is beyond me. I know some trade customers were trying hard to buy stock to resell and couldn’t even get an answer to emails. It’s all very strange.
The administrators state:
Whilst the business performed well during the Covid pandemic, performance had been challenging since, with demand and profitability suffering as a result of the economic climate, with inflationary cost pressures and reduced demand.
On 5 October 20221 FRP were engaged to assist the directors in preparing a 4-week short term cash flow forecast on a business-critical basis, including identifying payments which were business critical and to assist in the sale of the business and/or assets via an insolvency process. Additional work included advising the directors in relation to the appointment of Administrators, supporting the directors in preparing form HRl, dealing with any matters in connection with our statutory obligation, including but not limited to those contained within “SIP 16”, in order to effect a sale of the business/assets of the Company immediately upon the appointment of Administrators and any other work necessary to prepare the Company for entering into Administration.
You can get the full report on Companies House Here