Vintage Gardening Products

I visited a place called Oakham Treasures a few days ago. It’s an immense and impressive collection of tractors and vintage paraphernalia, collected by one man over the course of his life. They say it’s a museum but it felt more like rummaging in your grandfather’s shed. It smelt of oil and dirt and more oil and it was absolutely fascinating – to someone obsessed with vintage, like me.

There was a cabinet showcasing vintage gardening products which immediately caught my eye. The product above, I thought, was particularly amusing, ‘Slug Death – One taste and they are DEAD. It’s just a miracle!’ How brilliant is that? It does exactly what it says on the tin. Why aren’t product names more blunt like that these days? Garden centre shelves would be a lot funnier.

One of the only products that I actually recognised was this tin of Tomorite Tomato food. Back then they did it in these funky-looking tin cans, now we just get squeezy plastic bottles. Hmmm..

Next up, that gardener’s best friend, Dithane. I’d noticed Percy Thrower talk about it in his book but I’d never seen a real vintage can. Quite pretty really. Next to it is something called Cheshunt Compound, a fungicide that apparently helps eliminate damping off in seedlings.

And this is my personal favourite. A card featuring a beautiful bouquet of flowers is made by SureKill and is to instruct you in the ways of using everyone’s favourite synthetic pesticide, DDT. You might have also spotted some lovely Nutscene twine in there too. Notice that the design hasn’t changed, not even one bit. I like that. And I’ve no idea what Orthocide is – sounds toxic though doesn’t it?

I was nicely surprised to see a copy of ‘Adam The Gardener’ at the museum. I had found out about this book only last week when my friend showed me a copy that her dad had dug out of his loft. If I’d known it was a collector’s item I would have swiped it while she was making the coffee (no, not really Amanda).

Last but not least is ‘the wheel’ – every gardener has ‘the wheel’ and it seems like it’s no modern invention either. The Daily Mail were on to its usefulness early on and were using it to sell newspapers. The functionality is the same, the look is a little more on the vintage side.

16 Comments on “Vintage Gardening Products

  1. That is very cool! I love vintage, but hadn’t realised how appealing vintage DDT packaging could be- you just don’t expect it! I might have to visit there.

  2. Slug Death. What a hoot! That’s brilliant. What a great place.

  3. Slug death straight to the point, maybe caterpillar cull would be a good one, agree modern names should be more direct!

  4. NAH has been on at me for ages to go to Oakham. Looks like we’ll both have fun there :)

  5. here’s a link to the history of Corry’s Slug Death.

    I remember using Dithane to spray commercial potatoes.
    It came in large hundredweight (50 kg) bags, we had to weigh it out into acre packs, not the most pleasant of jobs..
    It’s a “protectant” fungicide, applied every 10 days to protect new growth against blight.

    Chesunt compound is still available. Orthocide, Captan, one of the first fungicides.. Sounds pretty toxic..

  6. Slug Death is the best thing I’ve seen in ages. Love it! And that ‘Tomorite’ can is beautiful. I wish Oakham Treasures was in Oakham – that’s just down the road for me. I might have to wait a while till I get over to Bristol :-)

  7. Love this post :) Found a fantastic little nursery at the weekend which had a 150 year old wheelbarrow that looked gorgeous… for a mere £250! The man from the nursery gave the 2 year old I was with a wheelbarrow ride in it. Sometimes, older is better quality :) x

  8. That pic of Adam the Gardener made me smile – reminded me of my Grandad so much. Could have been a photograph of him. My interest in growing stuff is entirely down to him so thanks for posting that.

  9. I’ve just been flicking through a gardening catalogue that fell through the letterbox this morning and guess what I found . . . Slug Death! Not the same lovely tins that you photographed, but certainly something called Slug Death. This one isn’t quite as direct. Apparently after eating these the “slugs move away to die, leaving no unsightly traces” – how thoughtful of them!

  10. Love the ‘Slug Death’! Could really do with some of that now as have spotted some whoppers heading towards some of my seedlings. Oakham Treasures looks like a great place to visit and will do so when next journeying westwards (from London).

  11. Wow… those pictures are so great. On top of those things, I love old vintage tools… I actually own a scythe that is fifty years old, and still works well on grass… they were really made to last.

  12. Gosh .. . this reminded me of how I first became inspired by gardening. I was given a copy of Adam the Gardener by a neighbor .. I seem to remember it was sponsored by The Daily Express although I can’t be sure.

    Great memories!

    Best wishes,


  13. doh! … just had a closer look at the cover and seen it was published by The Sunday Express.