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Jamie Oliver at Homebase - Which? Preview

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has launched a grow-your-own range at Homebase. So what can we expect from this latest extension of the Jamie brand?

According to the DIY retailer: 'The new and exclusive range of grow-your-own fruit, vegetables, herbs, compost and a range of outdoor cooking equipment allows everyone to see their food go from seed to plate.'

Veg, herbs and fruit
The veg range includes 37 varieties of seeds, all chosen with taste in mind. The range includes root veg such as beetroot and carrots and salad such as basil, parsley and rocket – all chosen for Jamie by his Head of Food Development. There are also some more unusual varieties, such as purple sprouting broccoli and a dwarf bean, as well as eight types of potato, including two organic varieties.

The range also includes 32 plants ranging from chillies to herb collections and blueberries. To help customers understand what to grow when, the plant selection will change throughout the year, making it easy to know what to plant.

Steve Mercer, Which? Gardening's vegetable expert says: 'The Jamie seed range includes some good modern varieties, including Which? Gardening Best Buys butternut ‘Hunter’, tomato ‘Sungold’ and sweetcorn ‘Lark’, some unusual ones such as purple carrot and yellow beans and some odd choices – considering these are aimed at celebrity-influenced beginners – Romanesco cauliflowers and Florence fennel, for example, are tricky to grow.'

Steve adds: 'I'm pleased to see that the plants will be on sale when they can actually be planted. This is sometimes not the case in garden centres and can be really misleading for first-time gardeners.'

Composts
The range also includes a range of composts. These contain some peat – which the government wants to phase out by 2030 for environmental reasons. Homebase told us that it had chosen peat-based composts because they're more reliable – and first-time growers are easily put off growing their own if they fail even once.

Which? Gardening trials have shown that some peat-based composts perform poorly, especially for seed sowing, but some good peat-free container composts are available – look out for our trial results in March.

Barbecues
Of course, once you've grown your own food, you'll want to eat it, which is where the range of seven barbecues comes in. It includes gas and charcoal models and a three-in-one firepit, barbecue and pizza oven. We'll be testing some of these for our barbecue trial in June 2011.

Source : Which Magazine

12 February 2011
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