After working on organic farms all over the world, Kitty Scully returned to Ireland to complete a Diploma in Organic Horticulture and Sustainable Living. Best known for her RTE 1 series How to Create a Garden, she also writes a feature on seasonal food for Organic Matters and contributes a weekly organic gardening and foraging column to the Irish Examiner.

Kitty has been working in practical environmental education for the last 5 years. She teaches courses in organic gardening, herb production, school gardening and preserving throughout the country.

In 2009, gaelic speaking Kitty contributed to TG4’s gardening programme, An Garraí Glas and in 2010 she visited community gardens around Ireland, co presenting RTÉ’s Corrigan Cooks Naturally.

Where do you GIY? 

Currently GIYing in my back garden, containers and have a 100 square foot allotment.

Why do you GIY?

I certainly inherited the love of all that is homegrown and seasonal from my parents as growing up on an organic farm in Laois, the only vegetables we ate were those that were dug out of the ground. I am passionate about GIYing for a multitude of reasons but needless to say, the number one bonus for me is eating them!.When it comes to flavour, what can compare to the delicate, delectable and innocently sweet taste of a freshly picked garden delight? Nurturing a seed from ‘garden to plate’ gleans for me a great sense of pride and achievement, with the added asset of supplementing my food stores. With a little plotting and planning, I enjoy a supply of fresh, nutrient-rich seasonal food at an affordable price all year round. I love growing unusual varieties that shops will not stock, such as purple carrots or yellow courgettes.

Freshness is the key to tasty, healthy, food and when it comes to flavour, nutrition and all-round wholesome goodness, my own homegrown fare far outshines its shop bought, over-packaged, fossil-fuel guzzling, jet-lagged equivalent! In this age of allergies and health consciousness, growing my own gives me  the security of knowing exactly where and how my food was produced and the assurance that no nasty chemicals have been employed. In addition, the digging, bending, barrowing, weeding, harvesting and hauling in the great outdoors keeps me physically and mentally in shape.
Furthermore, I enjoy the convenience of having a fresh food supply at my doorstep.  Besides the time and cost involved with driving, parking and queuing, I believe food tastes better when it is harvested fresh from the field and I cut down on food waste, as I can pick as much as you need for each meal. I am slow to waste food as I understand the effort involved in producing.

Your favourite veg to eat / grow

I love eating and growing peas. They are easy to grow and certainly easy to eat. Shop bought peas never taste quite so sweet as those popped straight from the pod. Pea shoots and tendrils are also fabulous in salads and you have the added bonus that peas are members of the legume family, making them nitrogen fixers so thus their roots when left in the ground, nourish the soil.

Your least favourite veg to eat /grow

This is a difficult question. I actually love to eat all vegetables in season but for some reason when it comes to growing cauliflower, the growing gods are not favourable.

Your favourite GIYing moment each year (and why)

Mine has got to be my first pinch of home-grown fresh basil. The smell and the flavour bring a tear of joy to my eyes, especially after the long wait from last Autumn. I try my best to eat with the seasons and basil for me heralds summer. Blended into pesto or just torn fresh over salads, I can’t get enough of it. Yummy.

Your most useful gardening tool (and why)

My oscillating hoe. I find this the perfect tool for keeping on top of the weeds. It’s so easy to use, fast and effective and I adjust my drill width to suit it. A war on weeds becomes a pleasure for me with this tool

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

Black and purple spuds are impossible to pick when one has to dig them out of wet sticky soil. The incessant rain this summer shed light on this situation.

Our finest hour in the veg patch was when…

I found a hedgehog asleep under a pile of sticks in the corner. I love the fact that my veg patch not only feeds me but provides food and shelter for native wildlife.