The Ken Doll of Gardening

For many, the pub is a home away from home, a building that is also kind of a friend: someone warm and sociable, someone to confide in, someone to hold your hair back, someone with a charming but dodgy sense of style. With an assemblage of mismatched art hangings, antlers and in my case; coy photos of the ‘Ken doll of gardening’ himself: Alan Titchmarsh. It’s difficult not to be enticed by Alan’s enveloping charm as you see him posing in a tree.


Alan Titchmarsh started his gardening career at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, before transitioning into journalism and since, has made domestic gardening accessible and approachable for all.

Gardening is not a preserve of anyone. Lords, dukes and duchesses can talk about it on a level playing field with ordinary folk.” 

– Alan Titchmarsh

Estimated by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and research compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, conclude that a staggering one-third of all food produced in the world is wasted, with 4.1 million tonnes of food waste sent to landfill. While local authorities do collect household food and garden waste for large-scale composting operations, home composting is a hotter commodity, reducing civic costs for waste collection, decreasing transportation impacts and saving tasty amounts of money for those green fingered, guardians of the grub.

Despite the great “green” push that’s swept through gardening, mountains of garden rubbish are still ending up in landfill sites.

The silly thing is, the same people who take car-loads of garden waste to the tip or pay the council to collect them from their garden gate, are then buying bags of compost for the garden.

– Alan Titchmarsh

Composting is a natural process that decomposes food and garden waste into a rich fertiliser and soil conditioner, improving the structure of the soil and enriching the earth with diverse nutrients and microorganisms that will improve plant growth. Chemical fertilisers on the other hand can be pricey, they are non-renewable and long-term use acidifies the pH of the soil, causing detriment to the ecosystem.

Scoring the perfect carbon : nitrogen ratio is the secret to a thriving, hygienic compost – or so the experts at the local gardening society say. A healthy compost should have a higher amount of carbon to nitrogen, using one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. Carbon-rich matter (the brown stuff) like: branches, dried leaves, peels, wood, sawdust, vacuum dust, corks, shredded brown paper bags, coffee filters and grounds, egg shells and straw gives the compost its light and fluffy body. To balance the ratio out, Nitrogen or protein-rich matter (the green stuff) like: manure, food scraps, pet hair, lawn clippings and green leaves, provides the raw materials used to make enzymes. protein-rich matter (manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings, kitchen waste, and green leaves) provides raw materials for producing enzymes. By investing in a robust bin and getting to grips with what you can and can’t compost, you will be well on your way to recycling your own organic waste.

In the age of uneconomical food production, consumption and waste management, composting offers an accessible solution for recouping benefit from this wasteful culture. Anyone can compost and it requires minimal effort once you’re in the know.

Next time I visit the ladies room in my local pub, I will look deeply into Alan’s eyes as I wash my hands, knowing that instead of throwing away my food waste, I composted it.

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