Grow your own
You can't beet it!
Michael Kelly has no shortage of ideas when it comes to the GIY-friendly beetroot
This month we will be harvesting the first of our new season beetroot – okay, so they will be no bigger than golf balls and will have been grown in the polytunnel, but they will be all the tastier and more tender as a result. I was turned off beetroot as a kid because the only way I ever saw it presented was pickled and floating in vinegar – fresh beetroot plucked straight from the soil and baked to retain all the goodness is a different matter entirely: earthy, tender, wonderful and incredibly good for you.
Interesting to note that we also still have about half a dozen beetroot from last year in a box of sand in the shed – they were sown in July, lifted for storage in October and we’ve been eating a couple a week since. They have held up well. They are an altogether hardier affair than the new season ones – about the size of large oranges and not quite as tender, but they taste pretty good still and make a useful addition to salads (raw, grated). To my mind this brings home why beetroot is the perfect GIY crop – it can be difficult to source fresh in the supermarket; it’s easy to grow; doesn’t demand much space and with a little planning it can be enjoyed fresh all year round.
Check list for May
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 protective barriers 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.
Indoors for planting on later: basil, dill, coriander, courgette, cucumber, sweetcorn, 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 – eg. tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, cabbages, sweetcorn, leeks.
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.
320g peeled and sliced potatoes
1 sliced onion
3 sliced tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of paprika
Place a large frying pan on high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil.
Add potato slices when olive oil is hot. Move them around the pan for 5-6 minutes.
Lower the heat and add the onion. Place a lid on the pan and allow potatoes and onion to simmer slightly.
Whisk eggs in a bowl, add salt, pepper and paprika to the eggs.
Add the cooked onion and potatoes to the whisked egg mixture and stir.
Add the rest of the vegetables to the mix and stir.
- Allow the pan to cool and add the remainder of the olive oil. Pour the whole mixture into the pan and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
- Flip the omlette and cook for 5 mins longer, ensuring the egg is fully cooked.
- Serve with a fresh garden salad.
Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY Ireland. GIY is a registered charity that inspires people to grow their own food 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 www.giyireland.com.