Monday 23 October 2017

'The garden is my therapy'

John and Sally McKenna
John and Sally McKenna

Sally McKenna is the author of the critically acclaimed 'Extreme Greens' -- a book about cooking and gardening with seaweed. She lives and works in West Cork with her husband and business partner John McKenna, and together they publish the McKennas' Guides.

Where do you GIY?

In a west Cork garden, in a spiral-shaped vegetable bed and a small polytunnel.

Why do you GIY?

For the therapy of gardening, and the ability to get fresh food with all its nutrients preserved. There is nothing quite like being in a garden.

The robin watching you from the head of the spade, the soil between your fingers, the smell of flowers and leaves.

It's the best antidote I know to the pressures of modern life.

What do you grow?

We used to grow the obvious: potatoes, onions, carrots, but, after hearing an inspiring talk from Mark Diacono at the GIY Gathering, I've decided to grow things we can't buy locally, starting with Sichuan Peppercorns, Egyptian Walking Onion and Kai Lan. I can taste them already!

Your favourite veg to eat/grow

Probably purple sprouting broccoli. It always seems to work and it fills the hungry gap.

Your least favourite veg to eat/grow

Carrots, simply because we never seem to be able to grow them. If they come up at all, which is unlikely, they form an unpleasant looking stump, though they still taste good.

Your favourite GIYing moment each year

I suppose it has to be digging up the first potatoes, muttering 'Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo aris'. Eating raw peas straight from the pod is pretty special, too.

Your most useful gardening tool (and why)

A copper 'Sirius' Field Hoe, bought from Fruithill Farm. It manages to be both light to handle, and devastatingly effective on weeds.

But I also love the Big Pig composter that honestly makes great compost in just a few weeks.

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

This year I've been learning to use seaweed. I've made a seaweed liquid feed, and used it as both a mulch and a compost activator.

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

Each year it gets ever so slightly better, and we have a few more relative successes. We start each year afresh with hope.

Which 'Good Life' cast member are you?

I think Tom, probably.

Irish Independent

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