Monday 25 May 2015

'I've been growing it myself ever since I was 10 years old'

Published 30/10/2012 | 06:00

Where do you GIY?

WHEN we moved house a few years ago I fenced off a small space where the kids and I could grow some veggies.

It's a temporary measure till I get round to putting in a proper edible garden beside my small orchard that we planted last year -- 27 trees in 9 varieties.

Why do you GIY?

I didn't know it but I was GIYing at the age of 10 with my grandad in Dublin. He supplied neighbours and local shops with cabbage plants.

After working in Caulfield's gardening shop in the early eighties, I studied horticulture in the Bots so that I could work outside all day. Now I'm stuck indoors most days so growing is therapeutic!

What do you grow?

This year was a disaster due to weather and work but I usually grow salad crops, carrots, parsnips and spuds. I stay away from long term leafy brassicas -- too hard to protect.

Your favourite veg to eat / grow?

Back in the day when I was growing over 30 fruit and vegetable varieties, I grew an F1 Hybrid baby sweetcorn that was mouthwatering (when and if it ripened).

A stand of corn (or maize) is as dramatic as a field of Miscanthus or Sunflowers.

Your most useful gardening tool?

When I was a full-time gardener I learned the importance of good tools.

I have 3 that have huge practical (and sentimental) value: a sturdy short-handled spade that once belonged to my grandad; a leather secateurs holster that I got in Chicago Botanic Gardens as an intern and a very heavy iron crow bar that has created thousands of post holes for me over the years -- I think I picked it up when I worked with Colm Warren Polytunnels -- I hope they don't read this and seek its return!

My finest hour in the veg patch was when ...

We recreated Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden at Bloom and Mary Wilson on RTÉ's 'Drive Time' asked me to explain what the Americans meant by Collards.

I bluffed about Kale-like brassicas. Lesson learned: never try to show off with new terms on live radio unless you know what you're talking about.

• Gary Graham works for Bord Bia and is the creator and manager of Bloom. He is a judge on RTÉ's 'Super Garden' series (hence his nickname, Simon Trowel!). He is also a director of GIY.

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