Meet the man who has grown so much vegetables in his modest urban garden during lockdown — he hasn’t been to the supermarket in eight months.
Alessandro Vitale, 29, has grown chilli peppers and mint on his windowsill for years so was delighted when he moved into a flat with a shared garden last year.
He set to work transforming half the 8x5m garden into a growing haven, creating a wall trellis for herbs out of water recycled bottle, and installing planters and a greenhouse.
And in his first harvest this year he’s managed to produce an impressive haul of 30 different veg, including cabbage, carrots, garlic, fennel, leeks, cauliflower and broccoli.
Green-fingered Alessandro dined out on an impressive 35kg of tomatoes from just SIX plants and has picked 10kg of 17 different types of chilli pepper.
Keen to be frugal and environmental, his crops are 100% organic, and he uses foraged wild nettle from a park for pest control, and homegrown Aloe Vera to make fertiliser.
He said he’s produced enough veg from the patch outside his flat he hasn’t bought a single fruit or veg from the supermarket since lockdown began in March.
And thanks to his Italian grandmother’s secret recipes, he’s turned lots of it into delicious pasta sauces to see him through winter – alongside veg he’s sorting too.
Tattoo artist Alessandro, from Walthamstow, north London, 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.
“But since then this love of nature and gardening grew and it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed as a hobby.
“When I moved into this property with my girlfriend I was so excited to have actual outdoor space and made the most of it straight away.
“I use any vertical space available indoors or outdoors to use old water bottles to grow plants.
“I work full-time 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 with is jam and sauces from the chillis.
“I managed to harvest 35kg of tomatoes from just six plants over the summer.
“I used my Grandma’s recipes to create sauces.
“Since moving into this property I haven’t had to buy any tomatoes or chillis from the local market.
“It was a bit of a trial and error with the others but by the end I had so much I was actually giving stuff away for free to my friends and neighbours.
“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 so it’s probably produce they have 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.”
After moving to the UK from Italy six years ago, Allessandro has spent the past few years growing chillis and herbs on bedroom and kitchen side windows.
But when he moved into his flat in Walthamstow, north London, last year, he was finally blessed with an outdoor garden and was determined to make the best of the space.
With the permission from the neighbours who share the space, the used recycled water bottles on wall trellis for his herbs.
He set up his own greenhouse to grow vegetables such as spring onions, peppers and broad beans.
He grows twelve different kinds of mint including pineapple, banana and strawberry to make Kombutcha — a fermented type of tea.
He now runs his own YouTube channel SpicyMoustache sharing urban gardening tips and encouraging others to create urban green spaces in the UK.