Alan Titchmarsh: TV gardener’s brilliant hack to save unwanted outdoor waste

The 71-year-old is renowned for his championing of the garden industry, and in recent times was a vocal critic of the Government’s decision to close garden centres and nurseries during the coronavirus lockdown. He argued that closing them at the peak of their productivity would destroy the industry, and eventually the move was overruled and shops in this field were among the first to open. But back in 2017, when fly-tipping in the UK had hit devastating proportions, Alan argued that gardeners should do more “even though when making home improvements you can’t help generating rubbish”.

Writing for the Daily Express at the time, the BBC star commented on exactly how renovators could get rid of their unwanted debris.

He said: “Any outdoor DIY leaves you with plenty of broken paving slabs, old timber or piles of rubble or topsoil and it all has to go somewhere.

“If you take down an old pergola, outbuilding or greenhouse you end up with all sorts of stuff you don’t want left lying about.

“In the old days you (or the workman who did the job for you) would most likely hire a skip or take the rubbish to a tip but nowadays it’s not so simple. Landfill sites are filling up fast and if you use contractors they have to pay to dispose of rubbish correctly, which bumps up your bill.

“Frankly a lot of garden ‘rubbish’ that is thrown away could be useful to someone else.”

He explained that some builders’ yards could be approached and given second hand materials, such as old skirting boards, surplus timbers or old slabs.

Antique shops, Alan admitted, also did a “roaring trade in ‘garden memorabilia”, with items such as old clay pots, wooden seed trays and old tools normally snapped up.

He added: “Surplus fencing posts can be used for supporting rows of runner beans, blackberries or raspberries.

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“Piles of topsoil generated by building jobs are ideal for filling raised beds, top-dressing borders and repairing hollows in lawns.

“Chunks of cement or broken slabs come in handy as footings for paths or paving. You can bury quite a bit in the basement of a scree bed or alpine feature – it makes great drainage material.”

His call to arms mirrors a similar plea he made to the public about eating seasonal fruit and vegetables at the right time of year to support British farmers.

He said in 2019 – while writing for ‘Gardeners’ World’ – that, for example, we shouldn’t be eating fruits such as tomatoes in the winter months.

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Alan raged: “We shouldn’t be eating tomatoes and strawberries in the middle of winter.

“I fume when, in the middle of summer, my local supermarket is selling tomatoes from Spain when we are producing plenty of tasty fruits on the Isle of Wight.

“We really should support our local growers and do our bit to make this country more efficient at producing food.”

As well as his rallying cry, Alan also wanted people to change their diets and the way they eat in order to ensure the land in the UK is used to be more efficient in terms of food production.

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