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

Tip of the Month - Pumpkin Care

Mildew is the main disease issue with pumpkins, manifesting as a white powdery mould on the leaves. Remove badly infected leaves and spray remaining leaves with a milk spray (9 parts water to one part milk in a spray bottle).

Raise the pumpkins up off the

ground on to a piece of slate or a brick so that they are not touching wet soil. When ripe, remove with about 3 inches of stem left on. They will continue to develop colour after being removed from the plant if left somewhere warm and sunny. Stored fruit will last many months, once properly “cured” (i.e. skin has firmed up).

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about GIYing is not to grow things that you don’t like to eat. This year I ignored that advice and grew lots and lots of cauliflower. I hate cauliflower to a disturbing degree – it’s almost like a phobia. It amazes me therefore that somehow I expected to like the home-grown version. didn’t.


So why did I grow something I hate so much, you might ask? Well, I was at a local village fair and there was a woman I know selling veg seedlings, and just because I didn’t want to offend her (and there was almost nothing else left), I bought a nice tray of cauliflower seedlings.

I’ve never had

much luck growing them before and since I hate them so much anyway, I didn’t really pay much attention to them.

Just shoved

them in the ground and gave them a spurt of water from time to time.

They were getting eaten alive by slugs so I didn’t expect to get a crop at all. And then one day I had a good look in at the plants, and staring out at me was the most enormous head of cauliflower I’ve ever seen. A prize-winning specimen if ever there was one in the hands of a determined cauliflower hater. And another 11 of them further down the row, all ready at the same time and demanding to be eaten. I gave it another chance dear reader, I promise. I tried cheesy cauliflower and cauliflower soup, and even Aloo Gobi, but sad to report - I still hate cauliflower!!

Recipe of

the Month - Rose Hip Syrup

Rose hip syrup is a wonderful elixir to have in the winter store cupboard. Full of vitamin C, it’s great as a daily tonic to keep off colds and flus. Rose hips are in season around now - they are small red globes that grow on hedges.

by Michael Kelly GIY (Grow it Yourself) Things to Do this Month

To Do Pot up herbs to grow inside over the winter. Continue to lift crops that have finished harvesting and clean up the beds. Sow over-wintering green manures. If you are going to cover empty beds down with manure for the winter, the earlier you do it the better. Try and find a good source of farmyard manure if you don’t have your own – cow, horse, pig, sheep and chicken manure are all great sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for your soil. Cut autumn fruiting raspberry canes down to the ground.

Sow You can sow hardy varieties of peas and broad beans later this month for an early spring crop but only do so in well- drained soil. In the polytunnel get a crop of cauliflower and carrots going over the winter. Plant selected varieties of garlic and winter onion sets.

Harvest Depending on the weather, the harvest may well continue in to October – pumpkins, squashes, courgette, apples, pears etc.


the last hurrah however for peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers and chilli-peppers. Continue to harvest wild mushrooms, elderberry, blackberries, sloes, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, turnip, beetroot, celery, marrows, leeks and cabbage.

Ingredients: • 2l water • 1kg rosehips • 450g sugar

Directions: Bring the water to the boil. Chop or mince the rosehips and add to the water. Bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Strain through muslin. Put the pulp back in the saucepan and add another 1l of water. Repeat the process. Pour all the juice in to a clean pan. Reduce uncovered until half of the liquid remains. Add 450g sugar, stir to dissolve and boil for 5 minutes. Pour in to sterilised bottles. This can be diluted to taste (5 parts water to one part syrup).

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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