Alan Titchmarsh shares strange soil temperature testing technique involving ‘naked bottom’

Alan Titchmarsh reveals ‘secret to success’ of planting

Alan Titchmarsh is renowned for sharing his gardening tips with fellow enthusiasts. The gardening expert and writer shares his advice on everything from getting rid of weeds to caring for orchids. In a YouTube video for Waitrose & Partners in 2014, Alan shared his beginner tips on how to get the most out of a vegetable patch.

Some of his tips included how to get the best soil quality and how to test its temperate.

Alan began: “Nobody can dispute the value of organic matter when it comes to growing veg.

“This stuff is the fount of all goodness.”

Alan held up some compost from a wheelbarrow and massaged it between his fingers.

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He described the compost as “wonderfully succulent almost like fruitcake”.

The gardening expert said the compost can hold onto moisture “like a sponge” when it’s in the soil.

Alan continued: “But the time to get it in [the soil] is in autumn so they can break down slightly during the winter and when it comes to sowing time, all that goodness and that moisture-attentive capacity will be there to enable your vegetables to grow better.

“If rich soil is the first secret to success then the second secret has to be timing.”

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Next, Alan explained how to ensure the temperature is correct when planting your vegetable seeds.

“It’s not worth putting little delicate seeds into the ground when it’s wet when it’s inhospitable,” he explained.

For gardening enthusiasts who aren’t sure whether the soil is the right temperature, Alan recommended a couple of old techniques.

He said: “The old gardeners used to do several tricks.

“First of all when weed seeds were beginning to germinate in spring and then they would regard the soil as being warm enough.

“If they weren’t sure, they do the tests that you used to do with a baby and bath water.

“Just see if it feels warm to your elbow.

“In extreme cases, and quite a few years ago – and I never used it – is to drop your trousers and sit with your naked bottom on the soil and if you go ‘oh that’s cold’, it’s too cold for seeds.

“I think perhaps the elbow is preferable.”

Alan said when it comes to sowing your crops, which means scattering plant seed on or in the earth, there are some things gardeners should avoid doing.

He explained: “When it comes to sowing your crops only sow it in quantities that you can use it.

“Lettuce for instance, is a great temptation to sow an entire 20 foot row.

“Unless you’re a family of rabbits, you don’t need that many.”

Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs on Sundays on ITV at 10am.

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