Alessandro from London, United Kingdom

“I come from North Italy and I moved to London, Uk roughly 6 years ago. I have loved tattoos since I was 12 years old and I work full time managing a big Tattoo studio in Central London. I’ve been gardening since I was a kid and I love the faces that people make when they hear that I’m a gardener.
I got inspired to start gardening thanks to my Grandpa who taught me everything he knew about our living soil and the different ways of gardening without using harmful chemicals but instead cooperating with nature. Moving to London with my girlfriend gave me an extra push to create an area where soil and living creatures could coexist giving you a real sense of nature to disconnect from our daily routine.
I started growing my own food as I always felt love and passion for nature which feels a little lacking in this modern society and I don’t want to support mass production of food by big companies using chemical fertilizers and pesticides altering the natural biodiversity and damaging the environment.
I grow in a space of just 8×5 meters. However, I managed to maximize the production of food by using vertical gardening and any space available in my Urban Garden supplying myself and my fiancé’ enough food to avoid buying any fruit or vegetables from the shop for a whole season.
I grow many kind of vegetables and fruit all in raised beds or pots like strawberry raspberry , gooseberry, carrot, potato, tomato, aubergine, courgette, tomatillo, different kind of chilli, beetroot, parsnip, celery, beans, edible flowers, many varieties of herbs, leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkin, sweet pepper, etc.
I use many different practices in order to maintain a healthy soil and build a good web of Microorganisms and Bacteria for my plants. I do “no till gardening” in order to not disturb the micro activities in my soil and promote the decomposition of roots from previous crops that will turn into food for the next plants. I top up my raised beds and soil with organic compost that I produce in my Urban Garden and Mulch the top layer to protect the soil. I also collect my own microbes in a few different parks around London to improve the amount of Bacteria in my soil by using JADAM natural farming. It’s a Korean way of gardening that suggests the use of natural inputs with what you have available in your area. Nothing goes to waste in my garden.
I also collect nettles from the local park and ferment them with Garlic for a minimum of 3 weeks. I dilute this solution with water and spray my young seedling as a preventive measure for pests. I also plant different flowers that attract natural predators for pests like ladybirds or lacewings and I use plants to repel pests like nasturtiums.
I get most of my seeds from seed swapping or online shopping by reputable companies producing Organic seeds and every year I save most of my seeds. I love chilli varieties and I have a personal collection of roughly 600 varieties of chilli seeds. I share all my seeds on Facebook groups or Instagram creating engaging competition for people following me.
Gardening in London has a few ups and downs as it’s really easy that you move from one house to another in a single year and I had to move to 6 houses over the past 6 years which means planning a new garden from scratches, dismantling and building my glass greenhouse, lifting tons of soil. In my actual garden I had a whole year without having running water connected to the garden so I had to carry up and down the stairs 2 water cans of 10 L each at least 8-10 times a day. Yes, I still really wanted a garden no matter what.
I keep recommending to everyone about getting a garden as growing your own stuff is incredibly satisfying. I created a YouTube channel as My main goal is to help people create as many green spaces as possible. I also created a front Yard community Garden where all my neighbours can just access and collect free Organic vegetables and herbs for their daily use.
Urban backyards and green areas help reduce carbon emission levels in cities which in turn makes the air cleaner and healthier for its residents and also spending time in your own green area boosts your mental health and happiness! I wish one day to have my own classes of Urban Gardening, teaching people how to supply themselves with food and the importance of preserving and helping the environment for our future generations.”
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