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By Michael Kelly, Grow it Yourself


BLOOM IS OVER for another year and I’ve had a while to reflect and recover.

For exhibitors and stallholders, Bloom is a marathon of a show – five full days open to the public and typically a day or two pre and post show for prep and take-down. For many of the GIY crew that can mean decamping to the Phoenix Park for a week or more away from family.

We call it the Bloom ‘bubble’ – when our universe seems to contract and concentrate in to Bloom for a week. Every day is about the show – getting there, preparing, working hard, having a million conversations with visitors about all things GIY, getting home, resting and then doing it all over again.

Bigger and better

Over the ten years since we started to do the show, we’ve had our share of days where we’ve been either frozen with the cold or miserable in the rain. Happily, this was not one of those years – we had five days of pretty much unbroken sunshine and the place was awash with happy people enjoying a day out in the Park.

Bloom gets bigger and better every year, and I reckon Bord Bia outdid themselves this year – apart from the show-gardens which were uniformly excellent, there was so much more for people to see and do, and the food offerings were excellent.

For us in GIY, it’s a chance to showcase our big three food growing campaigns – our primary schools campaign with innocent, called the Big Grow, which over 400,000 people took part in this year in Ireland and the UK; our secondary schools campaign GROW2CEO with Cully & Sully (which over half of secondary schools in Ireland took part in) and our community food growing campaign with Energia, the Get Ireland Growing Fund (which supported 75 community food growing project with grants and other supports).

On the GIY Food Matters stage we also had discussions on food issues of the moment – everything from school food, hospital food, food in direct provision centres, horticulture therapy, the death of family dinners and why we don’t eat more fish. Speakers included Rory O’Connell, JP McMahon, Dr Donal O’Shea, Paula Mee and Cara Augustenborg.

Kids GIYing

This was the first Bloom post broadcast of our TV series GROW COOK EAT, which meant being stopped a LOT to chat about the show which was just brilliant.

We noticed a very specific and very welcome trend, which is the number of kids coming up to Karen and I with their parents to say they watched the show together as a family and the kids proudly updating us on their GIYing. At such moments, I have to remind myself how lucky I am to do this for a living.

Coming home from Bloom is always an interesting experience – it’s brilliant to be home to family of course, and to have a chance to rest and recover. On the other hand, being at a festival is exhilarating too, so you have to manage the re-entry in to normal society carefully.

There’s typically a noticeable leap forward in the veg patch too after a week-long absence – though this year, the weed growth seems slower thanks to the warm weather and dry conditions. With the lack of rain, Mrs Kelly has been busy on watering duties (along with everything else), and no doubt cursing me slightly for jumping ship for a week during one of the busiest growing times of the year.

The Basics – Which Plants Need Watering in Dry Weather 

Which veg plants need a lot of watering in dry weather and which can ones can withstand a bit of a drought? It’s difficult to come up with a definitive list, but here are some guidelines. Leafy vegetables like brassicas, lettuce, spinach and celery needs lots of water – 10-15 litres per square meter a week.

Fruiting veg like toms, peas, beans, cucumbers need heavy watering when they are flowering and fruits are starting to swell.

Too much watering of root crops will only encourage lush foliage rather than good roots – in early stages water only if soil is drying out but more is required when roots are swelling. The exception is when waiting on parsnips and carrots to germinate – keep the soil moist all the time.

With prolonged dry weather, it’s important to get the most out of the water you use.  Water early in the morning when it’s cool and let the plants have a good drink before the water starts to evaporate in the heat.

Recipe of the Week – Carrot and Beetroot Salad 

This is a delicious, healthy, seasonal salad, perfect for those first new season baby carrots and beetroot.  Dry-frying the cumin seeds adds an extra layer of flavour to proceedings.


  • 350g carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 350 g beetroot, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 organic shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry or organic red wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch flat parsley, roughly chopped 


Coarsely grate both the carrot and beetroot, then place it all in a large salad bowl. Add the shallots. Heat the cumin seeds in small pan until they are hot and smell pungent. Remove from the heat and scatter over the vegetables.

Add the olive oil, vinegar and parsley and then toss well. Leave to marinate for at least 15 mins before serving.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ.