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This week, two things reminded me of how totally and completely I adore beetroot.  First up, I finally harvested my winter ‘storage’ crop of beets and was delighted to discover that I still have about 60 of them left which should last us another two months or so.  It’s a testament to the durability of this wonderful vegetable that it can keep for so long and a reminder of just how much of it can be grown in a relatively small space.  I always aim to grow enough beetroot to supply us for the full year – it doesn’t always work, but with three well-timed sowings (I sow in January, April and July) you won’t be too far off.  This crop was sown in module trays last July, planted out in a raised bed in the garden in August and have been standing quite happily in the soil ever since. 
Winter…rapidly losing its charm
There comes a point  every year, usually around the second week of January, when we are just kind of done with winter. Wrapping up warm for walks, snuggling by the fire, eating root veg five times a day, sipping from flasks…it’s all well and good, but right now winter has become dull, tiring and frankly a pain in the bum. Freezing cold bathroom floors, sleety showers that sting the cheeks, chapped lips and grey skies have lost whatever charm they once had. In short…spring cannot come soon enough. 
Us, gardening in winter…
Spring Planting
Time to prepare
With spring (hopefully) just around the corner now is the time to plan out your growing. Whether you have a 5 acre small holding or you grow your entire crop on a windowsill a little prep work will go a long way. To begin either spread manure on your beds or buy a high quality, organic compost for your pots. Think about what you want  to grow his year and order your seeds now. Will you be planting tomatoes and tomatoes and salads in pots, herbs on the window sill, potatoes in bags, a bed full of broad beans? Order your module trays for potting, your grow-bags for the patio and your seaweed plant feed for everything. 
Luckily we have a complete beginners section on our website to help you out with all this. And for ordering compost, raised beds or bare root plants we recommend 

  • Start small and pick something you like and will eat, like herbs, potatoes or strawberries.
  • Spend more on compost and less on pots and beds. What goes in your soil goes in your food.
  • Keep it simple, plants need soil, water, sunlight. Don’t over complicate it.
  • Accept that some plants will die. Don’t let that deter you. We’ve killed hundreds but we’re still going strong.
  • Set yourself up for success. Pick an easy fruit or veg to start with.
  • Enjoy it!
Grow, Cook, Eat by Michael Kelly
Grow, Cook, Eat by Michael Kelly is split into a chapter for every month describing what to grow, when to grow it, how to take care of it and featuring gorgeous recipes for how to eat it! Its available from our shop for just €20.
“Every year I worry a little about whether I will find enthusiasm for growing my own food again  – what if the year turns and I am not motivated anymore? I always take a decent break from the veg patch in December. It’s the one month when there’s very little work to do and the garden will forgive you if you don’t show up. You’re in down mode, the run in to Christmas and end of year “to-do” list is always full of things that no sensible person really bothers with like cleaning your spade and mending fences. But then BOOM, the clock moves over New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day and you wake up bleary eyed into a new year and a new growing season beckons. How did that happen?
Of course, though it’s the start of the new year, it’s still winter, the days are short, and cold, and the garden is generally uninviting. Little wonder that my enthusiasm for GIYing generally doesn’t show up until either February (when I can start sewing some seeds) or March (when you can practically smell growth in the air). If you’re of a mind for it, there are things you could be doing outside but at the very least get your seeds ordered and get yourself ready.”
Energia Get Ireland Growing Fund
Deadline for applications extended!

If you haven’t already you now have until the 26th of January to apply for funding!  Applications for a share of this €70,000 fund is open to any group that grows their own food, or wants to grow food and wants to promote growing. The Energia Get Ireland Growing Fund will be split across three categories, ‘Sow’, ‘Grow’ and ‘Harvest’ with awards ranging from €500 to €2,000. Together GIY and Energia will support at least 85 community food growing groups from all across the country.
We have had hundreds of applications in from an amazing variety of groups. we know some people needed extra help putting in their applications so to be fair to them we have extended the deadline for everybody.
Applications can be made online here. As part of the application process you will need to register your group with

January Classes at GROW HQ
Gut health is a growing topic in food and health and it isn’t going anywhere this year. The importance of a healthy, balanced gut for physical and mental health, is becoming more and more obvious. On the 24th Jan at 6.30pm we will host a Monthly Discussion here in GROW HQ on Gut Health. Joining us will be Dr. Mark Rowe, local GP and author of ‘Prescription for Happiness’; Michael Kelly, GIY founder; Lyda Borgsteijn, Nutritional Consultant at ‘The Primal Rabbit’ and Stefan Buzoianu, who has a PhD in health and nutrition and has worked as a researcher investigating the links between intestinal microbiata and health.