Ra­dio 2’s al­lot­ment guru loses his spring seedlings in green­house blaze

Daily Mail - - Life - By Izzy Fer­ris

HE is known to Ra­dio 2 lis­ten­ers as the al­lot­ment en­thu­si­ast who really knows his onions.

But Terry Wal­ton, a reg­u­lar on the Jeremy Vine Show, was left look­ing more red-faced than green-fin­gered when he ac­ci­den­tally burned down his green­house, de­stroy­ing his spring crops.

The 73-year-old Welsh­man has spent more than a decade giv­ing gar­den­ing tips to the na­tion from his al­lot­ment on a Welsh hill­side in the Rhondda Val­ley – and has even pub­lished books on the sub­ject.

He was us­ing a paraf­fin heater to pro­tect his plants from cold weather, but it sparked a fire in the green­house in his back gar­den, ru­in­ing his young spring tomatoes, parsnips and onions.

Mr Wal­ton had put the burner in place on the evening of March 25 after hear­ing a BBC frost alert –but hours later, neigh­bours alerted him to the blaze.

He said: ‘ The fore­caster was talk­ing about -1 and -2C tem­per­a­tures. I thought I bet­ter put a dou­ble burner on tonight be­cause this place is ab­so­lutely chock-ablock with ten­der plants.’

Mr Wal­ton was set­tling down at 8pm when he heard some­one bang­ing on his din­ing room win­dow. ‘It was the young lad who lives in the house in front,’ he said. ‘He was up in his back bed­room and saw the green­house all in or­ange glow.’

The neigh­bour grabbed a hose to put out the fire but in less than half an hour the en­tire green­house had burned down.

Mr Wal­ton said his veg­eta­bles had been grow­ing well thanks to the re­cent warm weather. ‘The tomatoes were set­tling in and they were about four inches high – I was look­ing to them ev­ery day with great ad­mi­ra­tion,’ he said. ‘I had 72 onion plants and they are the best ones I have grown for many a year and they were only a fort­night from go­ing out.’ Mr Wal­ton also had 60 parsnips, planted just the week be­fore. His kind-hearted neigh­bours have now ral­lied around to of­fer him their sur­plus veg to plant.

Mr Wal­ton said he was even of­fered plas­tic trays and in­serts by the po­lice of­fi­cer who called round after the blaze.

He is now care­fully re­build­ing his trea­sured green­house ready for a spot of re­plant­ing. Mr Wal­ton, a fa­ther of two who has bat­tled prostate can­cer, has kept a plot in South Wales for more than 60 years and started when he was just four, help­ing his fa­ther. He re­tired in 2001, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked as an en­gi­neer and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. In 2006 his al­lot­ment was adopted by BBC Ra­dio 2 and he became an un­likely me­dia star.

Cult fig­ure: Ra­dio 2 host Jeremy Vine with Terry Wal­ton Af­ter­math: His burnt-out green­house in the Rhondda Val­ley

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