Greenhouse Sensation What Happened & Replacements

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.

Vitopod Propagators from Greenhouse Sensation

My Vitopod Propagators with lights in the potting shed

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:

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

Quadruple Propagator

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.

Earlygrow Propagator

Earlygrow Propagator with LED lights

Another option is to buy an EarlyGrow extendable propagator from TwoWests. Very similar in concept to Vitopod although smaller and quite pricy.

Stewart Propagator

I’ve found the Stewart Propagator to be good quality and value.

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

Root!t Thermostatic Controller

Root!t Thermostatic 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.

Greenhouse Sensation Quadgrow

Quadgrow in the Eden greenhouse, 3 sweet peppers and a cucumber (Carmen) at the far end.

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.

Nutrigrow Feed

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.

Administrators’ Report

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

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
41 comments on “Greenhouse Sensation What Happened & Replacements
  1. Pauline Taylor says:

    Hi John
    Thanks for the update on Greenhouse Sensations.
    I too was disappointed about their ‘dissapearance’.
    I found that Quickcrop Uk ( think they’re based in Ireland) had a few Vitopods and Herbgrow self watering planters which are genuine Greenhouse Sensation stock. Not many if either but better than nothing I suppose.
    Delivery was quite quick as well.

  2. Clare Milne says:

    Thanks John for following this up. I am the happy owner of 2 large 3 tier vitopods and it is helpful to know I will have to source parts elsewhere. I wonder if they have also suffered from ramshackle deliveries – when I increased the height of mine from 2 to 3 panels, 4 of the panels arrived badly damaged and were swiftly replaced. I doubt I would be the only one. This could have been another dig into profit margins? I also have a wicking rock wool based growing planter of theirs so am keen to hear your recommendations for feed. Thanks again.

  3. Bill Cupit says:

    What those of us who have used the Quadgrow and Chilligrow system before are going to miss most is the plant food that was developed for use in the reservoirs, any ideas for an alternative John?

  4. Geoff says:

    I am really sorry that Vitapod products are defunct. The best product I have found for sowing seeds early, mine is full right now. There was nothing else on the market when I purchased mine, that was so practical.

    50 years ago I made a little frame in the corner of my garage used a 40watt bulb to get things started, did an amazing job just to get the seeds growing early in the season.

    Why does the good stuff disappear and the rubbish still made?

  5. Tim Appleton says:

    I will need Quadgrow plant food within the next four to six weeks, when will you alternatives be ready for disclosure?

  6. George Burgher says:

    Alternative plant food for this system will be the biggest problem.

  7. Drew Scott says:

    Last year I used Envii SeaFeed Xtra in my Quadgrow. My tomatoes did great but my chilli and peppers not so good, but this was my first time growing chilli and peppers so that might be down to me and the aphids

  8. Chris Robinson says:

    Thanks for the info on Greenhouse Sensations John. I have 3 quadgrow’s and have had excellent results for several years and I am another who will miss the Nutrigrow feed. Last year I used ordinary tomato feed instead and the results were very poor. I intended to go back to Nutrigrow this year. I see on the Solar Grow site you mention they are selling “Soil Nutrition A&B Plant Feed is a great alternative to Greenhouse Sensation Nutrigrow” which appears to be ready mixed solutions. I’m tempted to buy but will wait for your alternatives suggestions.

  9. Pete says:

    I intended to buy the Quadgrow to start growing for next year when I get the greenhouse. Then I discovered that Greenhouse Sensations had gone bust.
    I will now DIY some reservoirs etc.
    I have been searching all over the internet to try and find an alternative two-part feed. Surprisingly there are quite a few out there. Many are used with the AutoPot system (which I also considered), some of which seem a little complicated regarding testing for PH and EC etc. I would like an easy two-part nutrient that doesn’t have salt issues etc.
    Glad I finally found this page; cheers, John!

  10. Giles says:

    Hello John,
    Thank you very much for investigating John. I jumped into greenhouse sensation products after much research. I have the large heated vitogrow and two small unheated versions with several height layers. I agree with Clare’s comments about things arriving bashed about . They replaced things really quickly and customer service was always very good . So I agree it’s disappointing they have gone. I have just bought some stoppers for my quadgrow kits as John mentioned they are a bit cumbersome linked together. So this year I’d like to potentially move them . Impossible when they’re a quad unit . I’m also interested in your suggestions on self watering feed .
    Thanks and best wishes
    Giles

  11. Brian says:

    Please keep me posted on alternative A&B feed need some soon
    Thanks Brian Smith

  12. Duncan Stewart says:

    Fed up Greenhouse Sensation has gone bust, I have two quadgrows which produced the best cucumbersand peppers I have ever grown, I also have a Vitopod propogatoe which I find very good, but was about to contact them as the base has become distorted and wondered what would be best to put in to level it up, I thought sharp sand. My other purchase last year was their hydroponic system which again produced amazing results but I don’t think spares will be a problem only the feed.
    I look forward to hearing other peoples opinion,

  13. Stephen says:

    Shame another good company gone bust, be interested in a replacement a and b fertilizer see what happens

  14. Norman Robinson says:

    Looking forward to replacement for Nutrigrow.

  15. Duncan says:

    Hello John. I am also interested to hear your suggestions for alternatives to Nutrigrow for the Quadgrow and Chilligrow systems. Thank you.

  16. Peter says:

    Still not receiving notifications, John, even on the BT email, which is strange.

  17. Tim Appleton says:

    Just received this reply from Adam at Solar Grow.

    Hi Tim

    The Soil Nutrition A&B is ideal if you are using a Quadgrow, Duogrow or anything with pots and compost basically.
    While the Hydro Nutrition A&B is aimed at those growers using the Hydrogrow NFT systems.

    Kind Regards

    Adam

  18. Peter says:

    Ben White (AKA B.WhitesVeg) recommended the same to me when I asked him about an alternative to Nutrigrow.

    https://www.agrigem.co.uk/blog/ben-white-800lb-pumpkin-nutrigrow

    Atami B’cuzz Soil A&B.

    https://www.npktechnology.co.uk/products/atami-soil-a-b-1l

  19. Murray says:

    Sad to see GS go as their products are great and the nutrigrow feed will be hugely missed as well as the vitopod. I guess this will probably set me on a DIY path to create my own heated propagation area. Struggling to find another A+B solution that is as cost effective as the nutrigrow though:(

  20. Slim says:

    All greenhouse sensation customers seem to have been dropped in it. In their apology on their website for not being able to fulfill new orders they express the hope that they’ll be back on line “as soon as possible”. This gives me hope for the future – or am I being over-optimistic?

  21. Slim says:

    P.S. Their warehouse must contain a lot of stock, so worst comes to worst someone sometime will be selling it off. I’d much rather have greenhouse sensation back, though.

  22. CJP says:

    Hope to hear more news on A & Bs !

  23. Sidney Reynolds says:

    Like all quadgrow customers could you keep me informed on the alternative to the nutrigrow a&ab feed

    • Richard Thompson says:

      Last year we used Chilli Focus by Growth Technology, probably not the cheapest but we could get the 5 Litres wholesale so don’t know about retail.
      Used in 4 Quadgrows quite successfully

  24. Tim Appleton says:

    I’ve had another update from Adam at Solar Grow
    >>>>>>>>
    Hi Tim

    The Soil Nutrition is highly concentrated, you need to dilute it at a ratio of between 1-3ml of A and 1-3ml of B per 1 litre of water. So the 1 litre bottles will make up to 1000 litres of nutrient solution.

    Regards

    Adam
    >>>>>>
    Hope this helps.

    Tim

  25. P Stewart says:

    I’ve used Quadgrow system for years now & always had great results. I’ll also be looking for feeder wicks and Nutrigrow feed. Please keep me updated on suppliers for replacements, Thanks

  26. Ben says:

    A real pity to learn they’ve gone bust. Like others here I have a couple of quadgrows, two hydro grow tanks and a vitopod.

    I’ve grown chillies previously in pure hydroponic setups and the nutes were always pretty costly. I fear any replacement for the nutrigrow granules will prove similar but will look into the solar grow stuff linked above.

  27. Nicky Hellard says:

    Hi. I have some nutrigrow mixed up separately in the A & B containers that didn’t get used last year. Is it still OK to mix and where could I use it now – would like to empty the containers, clean and have them ready in case a suitable alternative is found.

    • John Harrison says:

      My guess, as a non-chemist, is that it will probably be OK to mix. You could use it outside on soil around established plants or at half strength on grass.

  28. Denise Corfield says:

    I was so looking forward to buying the quad & chilli grows! I am grateful to have found you & hope for positive news in the future. Thanks so much.

  29. Denise Corfield says:

    Sorry, didn’t see the tick box below & would like to be updated if possible, thanks.

  30. Tony Mewse says:

    please let me know any updates on quad grow, chilli self watering planters and feed.

  31. Chris Jelly says:

    Please let me know any updates on Quadgrows and especially the Nutrigrow feed substitute. Thanks.

  32. Alex says:

    A company called Global Air Supplies (GAS) seem to have picked up Nutriculture‘s IP, from their website they mention about keeping certain brands going but haven’t seen any mention of quadgrow or Vitopod.

  33. janet flamini says:

    Where to find nutrigrow replacement packs or a good substitute please.
    Janrt

  34. Fiona says:

    Have used quadgrow on allotment very successfu!ly. Really disappointed that I cannot buy more yet

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