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Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY Ireland.

Top Tip - Making a home- made cloche to protect seedlings

This month’s tip comes from GIY patron Klaus Laitenberger who writes a weekly tip on our website (The Klaus Korner). “Make a frame using 2”x 2” timber. The width of the frame should match the width of your bed. The length can be three or more metres. Drill holes through the sides at 50cm intervals on each side wide enough to hold a strong flexible plumping pipe. Then cover with bionet and fix it onto the frames.

rather than clear plastic. Most cloches are covered with clear plastic, but you will have to ventilate every day and water regularly and then when you finally remove it your poor plants will get quite a shock. With the bionet you don’t force your plants too much, but they are safe from strong winds. The rain will get through it so there is no need to water your plants.”

Recipe of the Month - PSB with anchovy

and chilli dressing We have been harvesting purple sprouting broccoli (PSB for short) since March and we’re still not bored with it. I always reach for this recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall – it’s a sinch to make and proves that PSB can be a meal in itself (or at the very least an exciting starter).

I recently got together with some friends for a GIY meitheal (pronounced meh- hill). A meitheal is a wonderful Irish term for a working gang – it has its origins in rural Ireland where neighbouring farmers would come together on a farm to help with a time-sensitive task such as harvesting or ploughing. They would work for a day and expect nothing in return except perhaps a bite to eat and copious quantities of tea. Of course, they also knew that when they needed help the meitheal would visit its generosity on them.

We have tried to reinvent the meitheal in our GIY groups – gangs of five to 10 people meet up in someone’s garden to do a job like building raised beds or shoveling manure. Our buddy Dave has been on crutches for a few months and as a result he’s understandably a little behind on this year’s GIYing. So about 10 of us showed up with spades and forks and got the place sorted for him while he sat in a chair and supervised with a twinkle in his eye.

It’s crucial though to use bionet

The work done is fantastic, but it’s the sense of camaraderie and banter that really stands out. There’s a unique joy in a gang of people rolling up their sleeves and digging in to help a neighbour. If there’s one downside to a meitheal it’s this: you may never want to go back to working by yourself in your garden again!

We are trying to get 100,000 people to take a pledge to grow something they can eat – take the GIY pledge at


• 700g PSB or curly kale • 50g anchovy fillets • 150ml olive oil • 2 garlic cloves • fresh thyme • ½ small red chilli (or a pinch dried flakes) • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

• 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Blend all the ingredients bar the PSB in a blender until smooth. Steam the PSB for just 3-4 minutes. Toss in a knob of butter. Warm the dressing over a low heat adding a knob of butter. Arrange the PSB on a plate and drizzle over the dressing. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

by Michael Kelly GIY (Grow it Yourself) Things to do in May

To-Do May is the time to get those outdoor beds ready for early summer transplanting. Fork over and rake. Earth up potatoes as the plants develop. Put a protective barrier around your carrots to thwart the dastardly carrot root fly. Regularly hoe weeds and mulch. Water plants if required. Support tomato, bean and pea plants with twiggy sticks, pea netting, timber supports with chicken wire, or existing fence or hedge. Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans plants to help prevent Blackfly.

Sow Indoors for planting on later: basil, dill, coriander, courgette, cucumber, sweet corn, pumpkins. Outdoors: winter cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, sprouting broccoli, leeks, beans (French, Runner, Climbing French), beetroot, parsnip, turnip, swedes, radish, lettuce, peas, broccoli, rocket, carrots. Harden off and begin to plant out seedlings you have lovingly raised indoors – e.g. tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, cabbages, sweet corn, leeks.

Harvest May is another tricky “gap” month as stores continue to dwindle. Continue picking asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli, radish, rhubarb, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and chard. May is likely to see the first real bumper salad leaves like lettuce and rocket – as well as the first garlic, beetroot and globe artichokes.

GIY is a registered charity that inspires people to grow their own and gives them the skills they need to do so successfully. There are 80 GIY groups around Ireland and 6,000 GIYers involved. For more tips, information and support visit


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