The Idiot Gardener

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building shit and hunting, all done in a piss-poor manner. It is not suitable for the

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Hairy Beasts: the Jiffy 7

I finally dragged my carcus home last night just before midnight, having spent 13 hours in various airports and on a selection of planes. I had one beer and went to bed, but my sleep was troubled, as it has been since I left England earlier this week. This morning I awoke and settled down to write a serious and important letter. This is something I needed to do before I went away, but I didn’t have time.

On Valentine’s Day I sowed my first ever seeds. A few days later, when I headed off to Turkey, I noticed that in under 48 hours, my Jiffy 7s had gone mouldy! So that was it; today I have contaced the manufacturer, and I await a response, which I will post if it ever comes. I have written to Jeremy Howarth and Richard Stephenson, the two UK Sales Managers, and to Rolf Kjellmo, the European Jiffy 7 product manger.

For those interested, my email follows!


Dear Rolf, Jeremy and Richard,

Forgive the sending of this message to three people, but I am not sure who is best to approach.

I am writing to you regarding one of your company’s products; the Jiffy 7. Now, I will start off by explaining that I am a first time user of this product. Indeed, I am also a first time gardener. I won’t bore you with the story, but I do reserve the right to bore you with it at some point in the future if this goes nowhere. Aha, I’ve given the game away really, haven’t I? That comment will have indicated that I’m not exactly marching around the streets wearing a great big happy hat right now.

Let me start, somewhat appropriately, at the beginning. I am in my first season of growing (that’s gardener talk, apparently, for my first year), and I happened upon your product. Well, that’s not true. I was dragged to your product, lured by the recommendations of sundry celebrities. Yes, I was blinded by their fame and notoriety. What is that they say about a fool, his money, and a swift parting of the ways?

Now, Alan Titchmarsh (I call him Al; I don’t know him, nor have I ever met him, but I’m not standing on ceremony here) might forgo your product for a pot and some soil, but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Sarah Raven both seemed quite positive about it. Call me blind, but where The Hughster and The Raven go, many will follow. Okay, I follow blindly, so you can call me blind if you want to. Of course, that’s only if you want to; I’m not insisting on it.

So, despite your product having a name more akin to a johnny bag than a gardening product (I drink with my mates, and have a ribbed jumper, so I was unperturbed by the Jiffy 7 moniker), I purchased some Jiffy 7s. I could have put a toe in the water with 10, maybe 20. That’s not my way. When I jump in, I fill my pockets with stones first! So, I threw caution to the wind and bought 200. I figured I had 200 little pieces of heaven. Little did I know the Faustian episode that I had embarked upon.

Now, I do accept that when you (that’s you specifically, the manufacturer, not a generic ‘you’ to indicate persons unknown) consider product performance, you work in batches of millions of products with samples of thousands. I don’t. I am a consumer, and whilst I am a passionate one, it only takes one failure to make my brow furrow and my money climb back into my wallet.

Being in my first season, I was understandably excited when it came to sowing my first crop (more gardening talk, but I’m sure you’ll understand the gist; I’m nearly up to speed with it, although I still say mud instead of soil). Yes, the schoolboy humour of sticking my seed into a Jiffy 7 wasn’t lost on me. Then I sat down to wait. I only sowed a few seeds; I’d read about successional sowing.

I planted the seeds on 14 February, Valentine’s Day. My wife was impressed that I watched football, then did some gardening stuff. I am nothing if not romantic! Of course, the romance isn’t important. When I say that, it obviously is important between the wife and I, but not between thee and I! No, what is important between us is the date.

On the 16 February, less than 48 hours after sowing, I noted that my Jiffy 7s had turned hairy. That’s hairy in less than two days. I’m talking properly hairy, like Tracy Cahill. Now, that’ll mean nothing to you unless you married a hairy lass I went to school with, but if you didn’t, she had a moustache to put Fu Manchu to shame.

Now, the white hair of mould on the Jiffy 7s reminds me of my Mother’s fancy-man’s beard. He’s an old sea dog, and nice as he may be, I’m not eating broad beans out of his facial hair. I like him, but I don’t even know you lot. Ergo, I’m not eating broad beans out of a hairy Jiffy 7. I am also concerned that the hairiness might be passed on to other plants in normal pots. After all, 40 years ago I kissed Tracy Cahill, and today I have a beard! I am living proof that hairiness can be contagious.

Now, here’s the thing. I am sitting on around 190 pellets of potential hirsutism, and that isn’t where I wanted to be. I am also in fear of using more Jiffy 7s in case I end up with lettuce wearing dreadlocks. I am, sadly, bereft of hope and faith. So, here’s the question: what the hell is going on?

I look forward to your reply with some desperation; I need to sow more stuff pretty soon.

Many thanks, etc..


I shall update you all with any reply I receive.


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15 thoughts on “Hairy Beasts: the Jiffy 7

  1. Edith Hope

    Dear IG, I feel that it is a little foolish to be advertising the problem here. Is this not the kind of ‘story’ which sells newspapers in their thousands? I should suggest, if it is not too late, that you go straight to the ‘News of the World’ who may well pay you such sums as to allow you to invest straight away in a market garden complete with polytunnels, AND a world cruise for you and Mrs. IG. I very much hope so.

  2. kilbournegrove

    Im with Edith, this could be the beginnign of a very lucrative career for you. We would see your face (must be hairy) everywherem and buy everything that your promote. After all, I am easily swayed into parting with my money as well!

  3. Kyna

    First I have to comment with a very girly ‘Ew’ O_O

    I can understand your very well expressed ire. Bleah, that thing looks like it came out of the lint trap of my dryer. Shows how how clean I keep my lint trap 😛

    And 150 of them? If Jiffy 7 doesn’t give you a refund, I would just sell them as a new sort of low maintenance pet…

  4. Annie's Granny

    Oh, my. I’ve had a bit of hairy mildew on my seedlings at times (too much heat and humidity) but nothing a spritz of chamomile tea and a bit of an airing out wouldn’t cure. But THAT THING, I’ve never seen anything like it! Well, maybe once, when my daughter forgot and left a lasagna casserole in her oven for two weeks, but that’s another story.

  5. Anna

    Now that amorphous blob seems to bear little resemblance to a Jiffy 7 –
    is it an alien invader ? I think that your email is certainly going to brighten up somebody’s Monday morning. On a serious note have you opened the ventilation on your propagator since sowing the seeds ? If not it’s probably the case that all that heat and moisture in a an enclosed space, has just been too overwhelming for the aforesaid Jiffies and they have made their feelings patently clear.

  6. debsgarden

    I can’t wait to hear their response! i hope you get your money back. What a disappointment! Those things are a bit scary; probably dangerous to breathe around them!

  7. Damo

    Brilliant I hope they have the balls to reply. Reminds me of that chap who wrote to Richard Branson about the poor food on a Virgin flight -“Imagine being a 12-year-old boy Richard,” he wrote. “Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat there with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans’ stereo you picked out of the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster, Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil.” Priceless.

  8. jodi (bloomingwriter)

    I opened this window last night, was distracted by a phone call, and didn’t come back to it until this morning. Brilliant. Let’s just say that I am glad I had finished my coffee before embarking on this read, or else my monitor would probably resemble your Jiffy. I can’t wait to hear how they respond. It should be fascinating.

  9. The Idiot Gardener

    Gippslandgardener, a good idea, but would you want hair like that?

    Edith, sadly my mouldy Jiffy 7 has not slept with a surgically enhanced model or football player, so the News of the World turned me down flat!

    Kilbournegrove, self-promotion is not my thing, but I can recommend the Idiot Butcher’s Extra Porky Sausages. Yes, that’s right, the Idiot Butcher’s Extra Porky Sausages. They’re Extra Porky, and only £45 a pound!

    Kyna, I wanted to keep it for a bit longer but it started to stink, but I’m sure it would have ended up looking like a Grateful Dead tribute act!

    Granny Strange, the difference is that with a lasagne, you can scrap off the mould in an emergency!

    Jo, nothing as of yet. I might start an anti-Jiffy 7 campaign, with a march through the streets of Oslo to their head office!

    Anna, ventilation is open and temperature lowish. I have some other pellets, and they’re doing well. It’s only the Jiffys that need a trip to the barbers!

    Is, I have chucked them and reverted to more traditional methods. Luckily I didn’t solely use the Jiffys; a need to experiment means I have some germinating seeds.

    Debs, I agree. I got Mrs IG to sniff one (I told her to close her eyes and smell a special perfume I’d bought her), and she said they were ‘rank’.

    Dene Wood, thanks for the comment; I’ll be gelling up any future hairy ones with appropriate hair products. Did I mention the Extra Porky sausages?

    Damo, I remember that letter; it was years ago. I’ll have to look the whole thing up.

    Chicken Freak, alarming isn’t the word. Mind you, it could have been worse; I might have used them for all my seeds.

    Kim, vermiculite, got it! That’ll be my mantra. I’ll be trying it next.

    Jodi, I hate that coffee/monitor interface. It’s worse when it gets into the keyboard. That can be fatal.


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