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The Prolific Gardener

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Alessandro Vitale, 29, from Walthamstow, has grown thirty different vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, garlic, fennel, leeks, cauliflower, and broccoli.

He has been so successful in growing his greens that he has not bought a single fruit or vegetable from the supermarket since lockdown began in March 2020. In addition, he’s grown 35kg of tomatoes from just six plants and 10kg of seventeen different types of chilli; a true gardener in every sense.

Alessandro said, "I really did have a good season. I actually managed to harvest celery for the first time ever. When I was a kid I used to help my grandpa out in the garden. I remember he would import chilli seeds from all over the world and he would have tonnes of plants. I couldn’t even go near when they were being harvested as I would have tears coming down my face”.

After moving to the UK from Italy six years ago, Alessandro spent the past few years growing chillies and herbs on bedroom and kitchen side windows. He was finally blessed with a garden (although shared) when he moved into his flat in Walthamstow last year.

With permission from his neighbours, he set up a wall trellis for herbs to be grown out of the recycled water bottles and installed planters and a greenhouse. Among many delicious greens, Alessandro has also grown spring onions, peppers, and broad beans in his greenhouse.

He also grows twelve different kinds of mint, and pineapple, banana, and strawberry to make Kombutcha - a fermented type of tea.

Keen to be frugal and environmental, Alessandro's crops are 100% organic, and he uses foraged wild nettle from a park for pest control, and home-grown Aloe Vera to make fertiliser.

He said:

"When I moved into this property with my girlfriend, I was so excited to have outdoor space and made the most of it straight away. I use any vertical space available indoors or outdoors and use old water bottles for growing plants.

I work 45 hours a week but as soon as I'm home I spend a couple of hours tending to the garden. My favourite thing to make is jam and sauces from the chillies.

I put a sign outside my house saying they were free to take. It seemed like a nice surprise for them as I get different types of seeds from the internet. It's the kind of produce they have probably never used before.

For me, it's really important to be organic. I made my own organic pest control. My main goal is to help people create as many green spaces as possible because soil can absorb carbon from the air and reduce carbon emissions.

Urban backyards and green areas help reduce carbon emission levels in cities which makes the air cleaner and healthier for its residents. It's also a great boost for mental health and happiness."

Alessandro now runs his own YouTube channel ‘Spicy Moustache’ sharing urban gardening tips and encouraging others to create urban green spaces in the UK.

An article from the East London & West Essex Guardian