Food blogger, author, mother, beekeeper and Lidl Ambassador are some of the titles that Freddy’s friend Caitriona Redmond holds. Author of Wholesome (Mercier Press, 2014), Caitriona is no stranger to shopping on a budget and we are delighted that she has agreed to share some nuggets of wisdom with us. She also has an allotment in North County Dublin so who better to encourage us to get growing…
What are some of the staples that you grow every year?
Definitely tomatoes. OMG I love growing tomatoes. They are such a joyous fruit to grow. The smell of them as they ripen in the polytunnel is incredible. When you brush against a leaf it’s a smell of warm Summers. Then when you eat a tomato fresh from the vine there is nothing sweeter. You taste the sunshine. So yes tomatoes.
I also grow a lot of soft fruits and berries which I mainly freeze and use all year around. I also use them for jams, cordials, and some alcoholic beverages. Ahem.
How much time do you spend in your allotment once Spring arrives?
The short answer to this is never enough time. In fact I never have enough time there all year around. When the weather begins to get warmer I try to get there for at least an hour every day with a good chunk at the weekends. A good chunk = at least 4 hours. Not all that time is spend tending to my produce I hasten to add. I call the allotment my happy place. I enjoy the warmth in the polytunnel. We love sharing a picnic or a bbq, a cuppa tea made on the gas stove, a natter with fellow plotholders. It’s very social!
Will you share your THREE top tips for growing food with us?
1. If you want to eat it, you’re less likely to (accidentally) kill it. Grow what you want to eat. You’ll be more invested in it and take care of whatever you decide to grow.
2. Start small, try growing your own food on a small scale on your windowsills or in pots before you start digging over your whole garden.
3. There’s never a bad time to grow your own food. Even in winter you can keep some pots of herbs or salad leaves going inside the house or in a sheltered spot in the garden. Don’t wait until the weather improves. It’s a great time to start now.
Name one thing you won’t grow, cook or eat?
Mushrooms. I know Freddy loves Mushrooms but we don’t like them in our house so it’s the one thing we don’t produce. Actually liking mushrooms, brassicas (like cabbage or sprouts), or coriander is genetic!
Do you have many disasters?
All the time. Every year I have a growing disaster but the thing is I learn from it. Usually it’s when I let some plants go to seed or forget to water enough. I am always learning at the allotment and when I grow my own food. There’s never a time when I think I’ve got this growing lark licked. That’s what I love about growing my own food!
You’re well known for budgeting so would you share some tips that will help us add a few euro to our savings?
- Check what you’ve got in the house before you go shopping so you don’t buy stuff you have already.
- Make your shopping list and check it twice, just like Santa.
- Plan your meals in advance based upon what you have in your presses and your fridge, not what you would like to eat.
Lyons or Barry’s
I grew up in a Barry’s household believe it or not! My husband is a firm Lyon’s fan and that’s what we drink but I compromise and drink Barry’s Earl Grey. There’s diplomacy for you!
Huge thanks to Caitriona who was so happy (as always) to chat to us about her love of sowing, growing and cooking. I hope you are as inspired as I am to get out there and sow some seeds, and remember what Caitriona says, start small and build from there.
Happy growing guys!
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