Friday, 6 December 2013

6 in 1 multi opener review

I have been testing this great kitchen gadget, available from Essential aids. It is a brilliant device and I would recommend one to anyone who has trouble opening any kind of jar, can,tin, even packets!

This is my first kitchen gadget review as I usually do gardening bits and bobs but I really enjoyed it and hopefully will get to do more.

please have a read, any comments are always gratefully received :)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Audacity magazine article about me and gardening with a disabilty

I was recently asked to write for Audacity Magazine, a great online magazine all about living with disability. Please follow the link or read below my article. It is a bit of a intro to me and my disability and how I garden and of course how much I love it.

The Two Fingered Gardener Blooms All Year Long

Niki Preston is the Two fingered gardener
Two Fingered Gardener
My name is Niki Preston, also known as The Two Fingered Gardener. I was born with Phocomelia so I have two fingers on my right hand and a tiny little one on my left arm. Both my arms are short and do not bend at all and just for good measure I also have dodgy hip and knee joints. I am married to the lovely James and we have three grown up children and an assistance dog called Bailey.
After moving to a house with a much bigger garden a few years ago, it soon became apparent that one of us would need to learn how to garden and as James really did not have any enthusiasm for the task so it fell to me. Now it has become my greatest passion. I have even won an award and met my gardening hero, Alan Titchmarsh.
Sharing my love of gardening has led me down a completely new path, so to speak and I began writing about how I garden even though my disability makes it quite difficult. I have learned to become very creative and now I feel it is time to share this with others. Hopefully inspire people to give it a go or to start again if they have given up through adversity. Featuring in Amateur Gardening magazine, The Guardian, BBCouch! Garden News and now Audacity magazine I hope I am beginning to spread the word. Product testing accessible garden tools has also begun to take off so I hope you might find some useful handy tips and ideas.
Gardening to me anyway, is very therapeutic; it lifts my spirits whenever I have bad days. I get totally lost in myself and it is probably the only time I can forget about constant pain, where I am free to be just me.  After all a garden is not judgmental, it just rewards all your love and care with beauty, colour and yummy veggies.
If you are new to gardening and just want to give it a go I hope some of my advice will point you in the right direction. Firstly, don’t worry about lack of space. Any space can be made into a garden. You can use pots, window sills anywhere even your dining room table, which I do a lot. Raised bed gardening is by far the best, no back breaking bending and they can be placed at the correct height for you, so wheelchair access is perfect too.
I grow all my flowers, veg and herbs in raised beds, all mixed in together. The effect is quite something and there is always something to look at and tend too. Give a little bit of consideration to your individual capabilities and what you feel you can manage. Things like long term plant care, dead heading, pruning, that kind of thing. Everything is possible with a bit of determination which we all have in spades (excuse the pun) and the right tools for the job.
In my quest to find tools for the disabled gardener I have been sent some amazing products, not all of which were designed with disability in mind but I have found they are all useable in one way or another. One set of tools that I have found really handy are children’s sized trowel and forks. Darlac make a superb set with bamboo handles, making them very lightweight. They are also very good quality being made in exactly the same way as the full sized product, unlike other children’s garden tools which are more like toys than tools. These tools feel smooth and are so easy to carry about because they are so strong they can be used all over the place, my husband keeps running off with them, he thinks they are great, looks like he might need his own pair.
Another great asset that I stumbled across is a super comfy and hard wearing pair of gardening dungarees, Sent to me by a Swedish company called These dungarees are covered in handy pockets, even a great removable one for your mobile that can be put anywhere on the dungarees, making access to it simple and quick if the need arises.  I tend to fall over a fair bit and being able to have my phone with me whilst I garden has made me feel much safer. The other pockets are a good size and can be filled up with all your tools for the task ahead, small pruning scissors, your Darlac hand tools, garden wire, no need to keep going up and down the garden to get what you need, it is all with you already. They are so comfy to wear too, lots of room for moving, bending, twisting etc and wheelchair users could benefit to, with all the pockets and comfort is a real asset as well, a big consideration when using a wheelchair.
My advice to the beginner is doing a little research into the kind of plants that you like and make sure you can manage them. Perennials are perfect to start with; they come back every year and need less constant care and attention, mostly a bit of deadheading every now and then. Self seeding flowers such a Cosmos, Aquilegia and Verbena Bonariensis, all favourites of mine give a great splash of yearly colour and because they self seed the cost of having a colourful garden is kept to a minimum. If they are grown in pots and raised beds they are much easier to keep under control too. Bulbs are a useful garden staple, just push them under the soil and wait for them to do their thing. What could be simpler or more satisfying than time spent lost in your own little world, no worries, some piece and quiet and fresh air to blow those cobwebs away?

If you need any more advice or just want to know more about me and the other products I have tested, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be found on Twitter @nikijrp and Facebook where I have my own page, The Two Fingered Gardener.

Wolf-Garten product review for Disability Now magazine

My latest review was for Wolf-garten and was published by Disability Now magazine. I loved testing these tools. they were excellent quality and so easy to use. Have a read, hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Accessible gardening: tools to keep lawns and hedges trim

Born with two fingers, very short arms and dodgy hips, Niki Preston has been on a long mission to find tools to make her life easier. She has found two battery-powered tools which help her keep her garden tidy.
Both tools are made by Wolf-Garten. The battery-powered lawn and hedge trimmer comes with a telescopic handle and nifty wheels for lawn edging. I cannot bend easily so lawn edging is most definitely not something I would have tackled in the past. The fact that it is battery-powered means that there is no annoying cable to worry about either.
Using this product as a hand-held hedge trimmer has been invaluable to me, especially for mass deadheading, where you remove dead flowers and plants. I have five large Erysimum Bowles Mauve plants and deadheading can take a very long time - especially as I keep having to take a break due to constant pain. But one quick sweep over the whole area and, hey presto! Deadheading done.
The interchangeable blades will be quite easy to change for most people. The operation requires you to use both hands and I was unable to hold the tool and slide on the new blade at the same time so I had to ask my husband James to help me out.
A quick trial as a lawn edger proved tricky because I was unable to change the length of the telescopic handle. A good grip and a relative amount of wrist strength is needed to reposition the handle to a suitable length, but the action of pushing the edger with its wheels attached is smooth and it is lightweight to push.
The secateurs are weighted very nicely and I can even hold them in my very small hand. I have found that these are ideal for thicker stems and branches that I simply would not have the strength to attempt before. I have trimmed several roses, a huge lilac bush and found cutting back our rather large ceonothus was a doddle.
The only problem I have is the complicated way to start the blades. A thumb and finger action is required to release the safety button before you can squeeze the trigger. The only way I could manage this was to hold the secateurs carefully between my knees. Once the blade is working though it will continue until you release the trigger, so only one safety button release is needed.
The red and yellow colours of both tools are great and if, like me, you tend to put things down and forget where you put them, they are easy to spot. They come with a rather smart carry case which is useful because you will always know where your charger is.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Evening telegraph

The link above will take you to a piece written in our local newspaper when i won my award for The Sunday Telegraph Gardening Against The Odds award. It was such a brilliant day, meeting the lovely Lindsay from The Conservation trust who are part of the competition too. I was given my award by David Bellamy and spent ages chatting to Alan Titchmarsh!

Now I am going to be on the judges panel next year!! I am very excited and feel very honoured to have asked :)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Garden Gear Online Review

News & Blog

15 Jul

Darlac Snapper - Tried and Tested by The Two Fingered Gardener

Welcome to the first of our guest blogs that has been written for us by Niki Preston aka The Two Fingered Gardener.  Niki really is a true inspiration to everyone, gardener or not, and she has very kindly agreed to test some of our products and write reviews.  Here is what she had to say about one of our most popular pruning products - The Darlac Snapper ....
My name is Niki Preston, also known as The Two Fingered Gardener. I am a freelance disabled garden writer and garden product tester. I was thrilled to be asked by Emma at Garden Gear to write a blog and carry out some product reviews so here is the first of what I hope will become many reviews.
Having always struggled with deadheading I was really impressed when I tried the Snapper tool. This is a very lightweight pruning tool with varying handle lengths according to the task at hand. I tried out the shortest Snapper as I mostly wanted to use it for deadheading. The amazing thing about this product is the fact that it holds on to the stem once it has been pruned, a total garden boon to me as I am unable to bend, only having two fingers can make picking up thorny rose stems a real prickly painful operation. No more, just snip and pop the waste into a trug. Fantastic! When I first got the tool I did wonder whether I would actually be able to use it as it looked like it needed both hands, one to squeeze the trigger and one to steady the pole. However after a long hard think and a trial run I soon realised that I could hold the handle in both hands and due to the lightweight nature of the pole it didn’t need steadying at all. I can deadhead my verbena hanging baskets now, no more hoping someone else will cut them in the right place. After a bit of deadheading I decided to tackle the lilac which was in need of dire pruning, usually a task left to James, my husband. The Snapper allowed me that extra height and reach to successfully prune several branches and flower heads. James had a go too, he was desperate to give it a try, it has now become his favourite garden tool! This was not meant to happen. I have to keep trying to get it back off him. The gentle squeeze action required to operate the trigger means that this is a perfect tool for weak wrists and is ideal for wheelchair users as it allows a longer reach and the capture system enables more pruning with far less clearing up afterwards. The 360 degree rotating action means that no matter where you nee to prune/deadhead you can always reach no matter where the plant has decided to grow. Truly a useful versatile garden pruning and deadheading tool that any gardener would love to own.

If you would like to know more about Niki and her gardening then please take a look at her Facebook page or her own Blog page

The Darlac Snapper is available in various lengths including two telescopic versions.  For more information please take a look at the Darlac Snapper category on our website.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

My new blog with Amateur Gardening Magazine

I am so excited as I now have a new blog for Amateur gardening magazine!!! here is the first one below. I am really pleased with how it looks, I hope you enjoy reading it and will take a bit of time to read it. Follow the link above to see it on the webpage :):) nx

The weather for the last few days has certainly kept me on my toes! rain, sun, gales, cloudy and chilly. What ever is a gardener to do? Still my tomatoes, tomatillos, chillies and strawberries, all of which are in the greenhouse are all looking healthy and growing fast. Maybe I should live in there for a bit, see if I grow too!

During the good spells I’ve been tending to my new Forest Garden Accessible Gardening raised beds ( You probably read about the installation in AG 4 May) I’m always happy working with these on the patio just pottering about, pulling up a few weeds, (though you don’t get many growing in a new raised bed!), doing a little deadheading – another job that I used to find hard. James disliked it too as he used to have the glamorous job of following me around and picking up all the debris. Not anymore, now I can deadhead away and pick up the dropped bits as they are now all at my level. No bending, no searching about in the borders – excellent! These raised beds really have changed my ability to garden. Whenever I choose to I can go out on my own and not leave a whole host of havoc behind me. The raise coldframe in the range has been a real boon this year. No more do I have to drop precious seedlings into a floor frame from a standing position – though being only 4 foot 9, I could never drop anything from a that great height but I’d still damage a fair few plants and had to sow more than I needed as I knew some would not survive the drop. Now I can be a careful loving gardener and gently place my trays in the coldframe. A bonus now of course is I no longer have to over sow everything, so I am saving seeds and money too.
Giving these raised beds a trial has set me off down another path too. I have been sent some amazing products for disabled, less mobile, older and any gardener really. I am having the time of my life and it is all down to Kris at Amateur Gardening for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to write for the magazine in the first place. Next week I’ll let you know about a motorised wheeled, garden sprayer that allows me to independently water all my new planters. Stay tuned.

Related Articles:

Friday, 10 May 2013

Product testing for The Guardian continued

Recently I had the great pleasure of writing a blogspot for The Guardian about accessible garden tools and the availability of such products.

After alot of searching I was sent quite a few products from Active hands, SeedSava, and PETA-uk which were included in The Guardian blog, please follow this link to find out all about them:

However I was sent so many items, which truly was a great surprise, I did not have enough space to write about them all, so I have decided to write about them here and hopefully lots of you will give some of the great products a go. All the following products were not designed with disability in mind, yet with a little creative thinking and in my case "I will make it work" attitude they have all proved great accessible products for the garden .

Firstly I trialed a great set of cloches from I was sent four cloches in all, two were a great barn shape for those higher veggies like cabbage and caulies and two really useful seedling tent style cloches. The thing I liked most about these cloches was the lightweight quality. They were easy to lift onto my raised beds, and being made from sturdy acrylic they are almost unbreakable. I really loved the way they look and feel, no sharp edges, easy to see through so you can keep an eye on your plants without having to remove them and they are small enough to be lifted without damaging your crops. A great idea too is that you can place as many as you like together so you can cover as much or as little as necessary. Wheelchair users would be able to lift these easily with one hand which is excellent, and children will love to use them thus being encouraged out into the garden and grow there own seeds. An all round winner that I would highly recommend for any gardener, whether you have a disability, arthritis, back trouble or none of these then these cloches will make your veg garden a better place.

I then gave a superb organic plant food maker a go, available from

This is a brilliant way to use up those pesky dandelion leaves, grass clippings and any other green garden waste. You simply fill the basket inside the main body, clip it together, add four litres of rain water and off you go. every now and then, about 2 to 4 times a week pump the handle connected to the basket through the lid, this aerates the green waste and adds oxygen. After three weeks all the goodness has been extracted and you have plenty of organic and free plant food. Again this product was not designed with disability in mind but Lakeland were keen to know if it was and how I used it.

The first thing that struck me was the neat and compact design. It can be placed at the perfect height to suit the users needs, mine is on a low table that is just right for small people such as myself. it can be popped at wheelchair height quite easily too. One thing I found a bit tricky was clipping the basket together as it is quite stiff and I did need a bit of help with this and I am yet to open the basket so at this point am unsure if I can open it to refill it. However I am sure my husband James will be able to modify it for me. only having two fingers has made him quite used to adapting most things for me, he is getting ingenious. This said though I loved this product, it looks smart and the fact that you get plenty of plant food and it can used over and over again in ideal if you have thousands of hungry plants like me. The pump action was simple and very easy to pull up and down, I could even do it just with one hand and two fingers, so if I can do it then anyone can! I would definitely advise all you keen and organic gardeners to give this product a try. I have thoroughly enjoyed using it and will continue to do so for many years.

I hope these extra reviews have been helpful, don't forget the have a look at The Guardian gardening blogspot for the other products that I tested.

I have one more review to write up however I only received the goods a day or so ago so have to yet give them a thorough try out yet, but watch this space for a review of the garden dungarees designed by women for women at

Useful Tips revisited

Over the weekend I thought it would be a good idea to take some photographs of the garden tools that I use and show you all how I use them. Hopefully they might help and inspire you :)

These three tools I most definitely could not live without. I can not in any way use secateurs, for years and years I tried but all I could manage was daft cuts that left stems hanging off the plant! Not a good idea.
The small pink deadheaders are just great for snipping off heads and taking cuttings. They are very light and even I can use them one handed, very very unusual for me. The slightly larger pink by-pass snippers are equally useful for those stems that are a little thicker and need a bit more effort. I have to use two hands here but as the blades are nicely pointed I can get them in between the stems easily as I can not hold whatever it is that needs a snip. Trust me I have tried to do this with the cordless electric secateurs in the picture and only just managed to avoid chopping off my little finger, the secateurs went one way and I went the other. With only three fingers I really don't have any to spare! :)

here you can see me in action, one handed  happily snipping the dead heads from my violas :)

Tulips need a bit more force so here I use the by-pass snippers, brilliant 
These cordless secateurs work a treat on those pesky tough branches and I can now prune much bigger trees and shrubs. Something I have always wanted to be able to do but could never manage it until now. My husband, James's face was quite a picture after I had finished pruning for the first time, the whole garden had become me sized!
My newest invention that came into being over the weekend is my new  mobile watering system.

After spending quite some time wondering how I could water the garden without trying to drag a hospeipe round the garden and getting very wet into the bargain I came up with this handy idea after watching James use his fertiliser/weed killer sprayer.
This sprayer holds 10 litres of water and fits neatly inside the shopping trolley. Once filled with water I can wheel the trolley around the garden, even across the grass and water away to my hearts content. I can even reach my beloved hanging baskets that used to wilt in the summer waiting for a water thanks to the handy wand. No heavy lifting of watering cans, not actually possible for me anyway and it also beats the hosepipe ban so it doesn't matter if you have a disability or not, everyone can water their garden easily.

I hope you have found some of my ideas useful

Bye for now


The Potting Shed :)