Deep heat to keep your tender roots warm

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The Independent Online
Mother Nature has a warped sense of humour. This explains why Toolbox's attempt to test greenhouse equipment has coincided with one of the mildest winters since Adam and Eve worked in the Garden of Eden. But temperatures have, of course, dipped low enough for artificial heat to be essential - and snow is falling on the Welsh Marches as I write this.

My propagation beds are being kept snug by Jemp soil-warming cables, which are easy to install and economical to run. They are priced from £17.95 to £46.95, depending on the specification, plus another £43.95 for the JempStat thermostatic control. These essentials are accompanied by a page of crisp, clear, comprehensive instructions and tips. For instance? A cable becomes more pliable if you run power through it for a few minutes. And be sure to use horticultural sharp sand because builder's soft sand contains impurities that will form a hard lump.

This system costs a lot more than buying a paraffin heater, but is a clear winner when convenience is taken into consideration. A compact Findlay Irvine Autoheat, powered by electricity, has been on standby for really cold nights.

Jemp Engineering Ltd, Canal Estate, Station Road, Langley, Berkshire SL3 6EG (01753 548327).