Wednesday 26 July 2017

This is my Grow It Yourself life

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly is founder of Grow It Yourself (GIY) and has written an account of his journey into growing his own fruit and vegetables for this column for the past two years.

Where do you GIY?

In my little patch of GIY heaven in our garden in Dunmore East, with a fenced veg patch, polytunnel and lean-to potting shed.

Why do you GIY?

Well, there's a garlic story I could tell here, but most people have heard that by now. Suffice to say, I grow my own because it keeps me sane, healthy and connected to the Earth. It's part of me now, and I can't seem to stop – help!

What do you grow?

I am pretty unadventurous, sticking to what I can grow well, and like to eat: potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, beetroot, kohlrabi, cabbage, calabrese, sprouting broccoli, artichoke, carrots, parsnips, fennel, salad leaves, herbs and more.

Your favourite veg to eat/grow?

Beetroot – brilliant for you, easy to grow, tasty, stores well, and you can grow a lot in a small space. What's not to love?

Your least favourite?

I don't dislike growing any veg. I hate to eat cauliflower, however, so I guess that's my bête noire.

I've also been spectacularly unsuccessful at growing aubergines, which is an endless disappointment. This year...

Your favourite GIYing moment each year?

I love getting back to seed sowing in February, after the winter break. Or the first rummage for spuds, or out in the potting shed, pottering, when the hour goes forward and the evenings get long.

Also, the first fresh, ripe tomato in July, eaten there and then, warm, in the polytunnel; a little sweet, taste-bomb in the mouth. Watering just after dawn before work. There are so many, I can't pick one.

Your most useful gardening tool?

Oscillating hoe – makes light work of weeding. The ridging hoe is good for earthing up spuds. Hoes are a revelation in general.

What do you know now about GIYing that you didn't know last year?

Puddling in leeks is a waste of time. Just plant them out as normal.

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

Those first two weeks after constructing a rabbit-proof barrier around the veg patch – a picket fence and chicken wire underground. The place was free of rabbits, then they found a weakness and normal service resumed.

Which 'Good Life' cast member are you? Tom, Barbara, Jerry or Margot?

Definitely Tom. Corporate dropout. Ridiculous plans, ridiculous clothes while GIYing, endlessly optimistic that all will work out well. Oh, and married to a gorgeous, sexy woman, of course.

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