'I GIY everywhere I can'
Fiann O Nuallain is an author, horticultural therapist and award-winning garden designer. He contributes articles to various health and gardening magazines and co-presents RTE's 'Dermot's Secret Garden'.
His latest book 'A Gardener's First Aid' for Mercier Press is due for release in spring 2014.
Where do you GIY?
I sneak it in everywhere I can – the back garden is in constant flux between plants I am growing on for next year's Bloom, other closer-term projects and my adventures with veg and medicinal plants for the rest of the year. The front garden is full of tree crops (linden tea, birch syrup, hawthorn berries, etc) and I utilise windowsills and vertical pallets for herbs and edible flowers.
Why do you GIY?
Partly it's an ecological thing and partially a freedom of choice thing, with new varieties and tastes to explore each year. But above all I love to eat within the rhythms of the seasons. It's not just healthier, it's grounding.
What do you grow?
Being vegetarian I grow for my supper, literally – so lots of fruits and root and leafy veg. Also being into ethnobotany and functional foods, I grow plants outside veg classification for their nutraceuticals and health benefits.
Your favourite veg to eat/grow?
Praties all the way, as much for their impact on brain chemistry and well-being as for nutrition and flavour.
Your least favourite veg to eat/grow?
Chard. If plants have personalities then this one has the sort that just winds me up. Can't fully explain why.
Your favourite GIYing moment each year?
There is that moment when seed catalogues arrive and then there is the first strawberry, which to me is the first kiss of summer.
Your most useful gardening tool?
My fingers. Best dibber, soil mixer, fruit picker, veg thinner, weeder and pest squisher ever. Handy to show contempt to Brassica-raiding pigeons, too.
What do you know now about GIYing that you didn't know last year?
That you can pick up GIY skills at Bloom and many events across Ireland.
Our finest hour in the veg patch was when . . .
I left a nettle patch to grow in the corner; ladybird pest control and home-fertiliser for life, plus delicious soup every spring. Win win.
Which 'Good Life' cast member are you? Tom, Barbara, Jerry or Margot?
I'd have to say Lenin (the rooster), but that's as much to do with a fondness for Frida Kahlo as any temperament issue.