The latest gardener to join our network of PlantGrow Champions is Alessandro from @_spicymoustache_!
Alessandro moved to the UK from North Italy around 7 years ago and manages a large tattoo studio in London. He’s been gardening since he was a child – but people find that hard to believe when they look at him!
“I got inspired to start gardening thanks to my Grandpa who thought me everything he knew about our living soil and the different ways of gardening without using 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.”
Alessandro started growing his own food as he’s always felt passion for nature. He doesn’t want to support mass food production processes, like using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which damage natural biodiversity and damage the environment. Amazingly, he grows enough fruit and vegetables for he and his fiancée for a whole season in a space of just 8×5 metres!
Alessandro’s success is down to using the practice of vertical gardening. He grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables in raised beds and pots, like strawberries, raspberries, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and much more. He also grows edible flowers and many varieties of herbs.
Alessandro’s natural gardening processes
Alessandro uses many different practices to allow him to maintain a healthy soil and build a good web of microorganisms and bacteria for his plants. He practices no dig gardening in order to not disturb the activities in the soil and promote the decomposition of roots from previous crops; these will then turn into food for the next plants.
“I also collect my own microbes in a few different green areas around London to improve the amount of bacteria in my soil by using JADAM natural farming. It’s a Korean way of gardening that encourages the use of natural inputs with what you have available in your area. Nothing goes to waste in my garden as if it’s not going to compost it will turn into FPJ (fermented plant juice) or in another input to use for my garden.”
Alessandro gets most of his seeds by seed swapping, or buys from reputable organic seed companies online. He loves chilli varieties, hence his Instagram handle @_spicymoustache_, and has a collection of around 600 varieties of chilli seeds! You can see his seeds on Instagram or in Facebook groups.
Gardening in London certainly has its ups and downs. Alessandro has moved house 5 times in 7 years, and every time has planned his garden from scratch, dismantling and rebuilding his greenhouse and lifting tonnes of soil. In his latest home, he had a whole year without running water connected to the garden, so had to carry 2 10 litre watering cans up and down the stairs about 10 times a day! But Alessandro was adamant that he 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 because soil can absorb carbon from the air, reducing carbon emissions.
I also created a front yard community garden where all my neighbours can access and collect free organic vegetable and herbs for their daily use.”
Why we’re championing Alessandro
Urban gardens and green areas help reduce carbon emission levels in cities, which in turn makes the air cleaner and healthier for its residents. Alessandro is a big believer in gardening boosting your mental health and happiness, and we agree! Alessandro’s goal is to have his own urban gardening classes, teaching people how to grow their own food and demonstrating the importance of preserving and helping the environment for future generations. We wholeheartedly support Alessandro’s mission to show people why organic gardening must be the future.
If you’d like to see more of how Alessandro runs his urban garden and learn more on how to start organic gardening, you can check out his Instagram by clicking HERE