This Sandymount extension transformed the space, but didn’t even need planning permission
This Sandymount extension transformed the space, but didn’t even need planning permission

Megan Burns

Looking for a treat to cosy up with? Try this ultimate millionaire’s shortbread recipe
Looking for a treat to cosy up with? Try this ultimate millionaire’s shortbread recipe

Meg Walker

Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off
Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off

Jennifer McShane

‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Amanda Cassidy

What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce
What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce

Meg Walker

How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial
How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial

Niamh Ennis

The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting
The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting

Sophie White

Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs
Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs

Megan Burns

Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge
Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge

Holly O'Neill

Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween
Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween

Lauren Heskin

Image / Editorial

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help


by Amanda Kavanagh
11th Apr 2020
Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help

Growing your own food is a beautiful thing – and as Amanda Kavanagh’s experience shows – not always easy. Thankfully, the GIY community is a generous bunch, and there’s lots of well-explained help available, if you know the best places to look. 


Suppliers

Right now, most suppliers are overwhelmed and are operating a stop-start policy on taking new orders, but their websites are always a mine of information, whether it’s product listings, categorisations or blogs. It’s worth checking in every couple of days to Brown Envelope Seeds, who sell certified organic vegetable seeds produced in West Cork, and Irish Seed Savers, a registered charity who focus on preserving varieties that are suitable for Ireland’s unique growing conditions.

Madeline McKeever and Holly Cairns Brown Envelope Seeds GIY

Madeline McKeever and Holly Cairns of Brown Envelope Seeds

Both handily list on their websites what to plant in each month, making it virtually idiot-proof to order. Depending on the size of your growing patch and the number of seeds in the pack, you might want to share envelopes with a socially distant pal – or Spuddy Buddy – for more variety.

Similarly Sligo’s QuickCrop.ie and TheGardenShop.ie in Laois are alternating between offline and on, but both sites are well tagged, making it very easy to find what you need.

Andrew from QuickCrop.ie writes witty, weekly ezines that are both a pleasure to read and really useful. He’s always a step or two ahead, so reading them is a form of passive research. It’s one of the few ezines I’m glad I signed up for.

Books

While I have pilfered a number of Dr. D.G. Hessayon’s informative Expert series books from my mother’s house – including The Fruit Expert and The Vegetable & Herb Expert – and have been gifted some beautifully bound tomes, there are two specific books that I return to again and again.

The first is The Great Vegetable Plot by Sarah Raven, which I managed to get secondhand and (gasp!) signed, after it was recommended to me by Lesley Tumulty, Image Interiors & Living‘s brilliant allotment columnist.

the great vegetable plot sarah raven GIY

Sarah’s approach is common sense; make a list of what you love to eat and “let taste decide”, grow the “unbuyables” and also look to grow productive and versatile mainstays. She stresses that some fruit and veg store better than others, so while onions, leeks and cabbage from the shop might not pass a blindfold test, others like tomatoes and peas will, so try to prioritise these. Sarah goes into real depth on growing an A-Z of vegetables and provides a calendar of jobs to do, with detailed photography by Jonathan Buckley.

The Irish Gardener's Handbook by Michael Brenock GIY

Secondly, The Irish Gardener’s Handbook by Michael Brenock is a great pocket book that encourages organic methods with simple instructions. The boon of this book is that it is uniquely Irish, and notes the huge variations of climate and soil in Ireland, and how this affects particular plants. Each plant profile comes with fact file details on best time to sow, latest time to plant, soil prep, spacing, depth, plus pests and diseases.

Lastly, don’t forget the people in your life who love to garden. A phone call to a loved one for a chat and to pick their brain on a gardening conundrum can save you hours of research or months and years of trial and error. There can be years of well-worn wisdom behind a pithy “don’t bother with a lean-to greenhouse” comment, but remember generosity goes both ways, and make sure you think of them at harvest time especially.

Ultimately, the goal of GIY is not to become a productivity-based mini-farm, instead focus more on connecting with the landscape, connecting with people and sharing whatever spoils that may occur.

Featured image: Markus Spiske via Unsplash


Read more: Set the right garden mood with these 5 outdoor fire pits (suitable for Irish weather)

Read more: Want to grow your own food at home over the next few weeks? Here’s how to get started

Read more: GIY: A beginner’s guide to planting a vegetable garden

Also Read

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
‘Romy & Michele’ actress Cortney Wolfston on being fired while pregnant

“I was confused. Hadn’t I just been told this was a perfect time to be pregnant?” she questioned. Actress Cortney...

By Sarah Finnan

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
8 easy ways to keep your brain healthy that you can do right now

Your brain health is just as important as that of the rest of your body, says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr...

By IMAGE

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Not everyone was happy about the Duchess of Sussex getting involved in US politics. But her letter on behalf of...

By Amanda Cassidy

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
Trinity Tales: ‘Front Square was her garden, and the city was her playground’

Annie Gatling, now Colleran, knew Trinity College was for her when she saw Front Gate from the top storey of...

By Amanda Cassidy

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
Sarah Harding’s heartbroken mum announces the singer’s death aged just 39

Sarah Harding has died at the age of just 39, her heartbroken mother revealed today. The Girls Aloud star had...

By Amanda Cassidy

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

Starting to GIY? These online resources and books can help
premium EDITORIAL
Business Club members get your complimentary tickets to The IMAGE Business Summit 2021

Don’t miss this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, with an expert line-up, skills masterclasses, keynote addresses and more.Back by popular demand,...

By Shayna Sappington