It’s incredible, the amount of information out there for athletes about nutrition and diet. This is all the more so when you’re trying to fuel yourself for sporting activities. Whether it’s the traditional carb-loading diet or the latest High Fat, Low Carbs, it can be confusing to know what works best given your own body’s needs.
I’m never very good at adhering to one diet or the other. My mantra instead is to eat naturally, have plenty of fruit and veg and meat, and where possible, to eat organic. And it was with this edict in mind that I decided to give growing my own vegetables a go. But, given that I had never done it before, I wasn’t even sure where to begin.
Fortunately I happened upon a new movement within Ireland, known as Grow It Yourself. Founded in 2009, it encourages members to grow their own fruit and vegetables instead of buying it off the supermarket shelves. However, despite all the online advice and practical internet tips, I still wasn’t confident to go it alone and grow stuff by myself.
Then I found out about a hobby gardening course at our local technical college. For a bargain 30 GBP, I could attend a two hour course over 10 weeks and pick up the requisite skills. Within a few sessions, I had learnt enough about seed growing and compost to tentatively plant my own food.
First I tried herbs, knowing that I’d use them and that they were pretty hard to kill. So I sowed parsley, basil, mint, and coriander, then got adventurous and transplanted some oregano roots from a bush I found. Then I went on to leafy vegetables. I had grown tired of how expensive these are in the supermarkets and how they quickly they go off. So I planted spinach, land-cress, and rocket, which grew quicker than expected. I then deviated off into flowers, and planted some sweetpeas for a laugh.
Since then, I’ve also thrown some beetroot, peas, broccoli, early potatoes, and radish seeds into the soil to see what comes out. The good news is that nothing has died yet. Everything is sprouting well and looking forward to being planted out. The next plan is build a raised bed outside where I can put out all the seedlings. Then all I have to deal with is the weather and slugs, and hopefully the ordeal of eating a glut of fresh, delicious, home-grown vegetables.