A flood of products having suddenly come my way, I haven't been able to fully review all of them, but they are all fully researched and recommended.
I'll start with a review for the Scheppach Lonus 3 garden shredder. I only have a small garden but it manages to produce substantial quantities of prunings and clippings every year, most of which I have to transport to the dump.
I've tried garden shredders before but I have never kept one for long. They tend to jam easily and then require disassembling to clear them, which is very irritating but the worst aspect is the noise they produce. I may be wearing ear defenders but what about my neighbours? Well I'm happy to say the Lonus 3 solves both problems. It works like a professional chipper, crushing and chopping everything you put into it between a toothed cog and a roller. I failed to to jam it despite feeding it a wide variety of material, but if you do there is a reverse switch. It self-fed long lengths of material, which is useful as you can be fetching more as it chips it. Best of all it's really quiet - only 82dB so no ear defenders and hopefully happy neighbours. The Lonus 3 certainly isn't the cheapest shredder on the market but what you get for your money is a well built machine which produces high quality chippings for composting, and does it quickly and quietly.
Next up, Eco-balls. We have given these a bit of a hard time in the past but now they come in a new improved version, I thought we should give them another look. If you have never heard of them before, Eco-balls replace the detergent in your washing machine. They are safe non-polluting and hypo-allergenic, this means they are kind to your clothes, sensitive skins and the environment. Permaculture editor Maddy Harland says:
"I have used them for years on lightly soiled clothes. Providing you only fill the washing machine three quarters full, they work well and are a boon for my daughter, who has eczema and is sensitive to most laundry products."
They now come with a tube of stain remover and refills for the balls. They should be good for about 1,000 washes at a cost of about 3p per wash.
Now for some products into which I have had a direct input: an Oak Nesting Box and an Oak Boot Puller. These are made by Out of the Woods, who are based at The Sustainability Centre. They are a small group of woodland workers who manage local coppices in Hampshire and build traditional timber framed buildings. All their oak is locally sourced, extracted by heavy horses, and from sustainably managed woodlands. They asked me for my comments on their original designs, so I am happy to recommend the finished products. The nesting box is suitable for most small birds such as Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Treecreepers etc., it has a removable bottom for easy cleaning and with solid oak construction it should easily outlast lesser nest boxes by many years. The boot puller will get you out of your Wellingtons cleanly, even if, like me, you have size 12 feet!