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'I love the peace and fresh air'


Sure it's all great fun!

Sure it's all great fun!

Sure it's all great fun!

At almost 83 years young, Billy Carson is the most experienced GIYer on the Skerries Allotments. Billy left home at 16 to go to sea, became a ship's carpenter and plied his trade in Belfast, Malahide and Cork. He has been settled in Skerries for many years and obtained a 5x10m allotment plot a year and a half ago. Before that he hadn't done any gardening for over 30 years.

Where do you GIY?

On a 5x10m plot in the Skerries Allotments, Golf Links Road, Hacketstown, Co Dublin.

Why do you GIY?

I took it on a year and a half ago to prove people wrong when they said I'd never do it! I wanted to have fresh organic vegetables, free from pesticides, for the good of my health.

What do you grow?

A mixture of everything: potatoes, both early and main crop, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, melon-flavoured turnips, brassicas, leeks, peas, beans, lettuce, radish . . . also various fruit trees and strawberries.

Your favourite veg to eat/grow?

Everything! I really love salads – cos, iceberg lettuce, etc. I grow lots of salad, for family, friends and neighbours, and to give around to the other people on the allotments.

Your least favourite veg to eat/grow?

I love to eat and grow everything and am only constrained by the small size of my plot. However, I am not allowed to eat garlic for dietary reasons.

Your most useful gardening tool?

That has to be my little electric rotavator, which I run off my petrol generator. It cost me €105 but was well worth it. It is great for soil preparation.

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

An awful lot! This is my second year. I didn't know it would be so time-consuming! But for bad weather, I'd be out there 16-18 hours a day. I love the peace, being out in the fresh air and the satisfaction of seeing the produce coming along.

Your finest hour in the veg patch was . . .

Has to be at the end of the first year when my partner and I looked back and realised how much food we had saved ourselves from having to buy in the shops. We couldn't believe how much we had got out of such a small plot. We still buy some things but there is no comparison between the taste of the shop-bought stuff, even organic, and the home-grown stuff. I would like to grow 100pc of what we eat.

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

I might have said Margot, as she's inclined to be opinionated and criticise people, which I do a lot.

But I'll say Tom!

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Irish Independent