This is a new occasional series at Carrots and Kids, one that's been in the pipeline for a year and is now seeing the light of day thanks to Garden Monkey. It's where I ask gardeners a few simple questions. Imagine we're at the allotment, leaning on our spades, having a bit of a chinwag.
First up is Mark Diacono who, for River Cottage fans, probably needs no introduction. Mark runs Otter Farm, the UK's first climate change farm as well leading the gardening team at River Cottage. He also finds the time to blog, write books, pen articles for magazines and newspapers as well as taking wonderful photographs. In short he's inspirational. Thanks for answering my questions Mark.
do is the best way to get children interested in gardening? Sowing seeds is fine but planting seedlings means they are playing
with a plant straight away. Once the seeds start growing, that’s where
the magic starts, so doing both gets away from the old thing of work now/fun
later. Microleaves too – sowing some now and eating
them as tiny seedlings in a week really works a treat. And tasting some
of the seeds/seedlings yr planting gets anticipation going.
you have a childhood interest in gardening? No Who, or what, sparked it? My wife’s
interest, about 9 years ago.
What always defies your best efforts at growing? Cauliflowers – usually fail to form a lovely classic head. Having said that, it’s fairly pointless growing them – all that work, all that time in the ground and you get one lunch!
is your front garden like and what, if anything, do you plan to change? No front garden, but some fields out the back. It has a lot of
orchards and a vineyard with a small bit of forest garden and veg patch – I’d like the ‘rooms’ as they are at the mo to turn into one
big integrated whole.
How do you think is the best way to learn - just doing it and making mistakes or are courses useful? Or finding a gardener to take you under their wing? Both, but I think coming into contact with inspirational people makes the most significant leaps happen – people whose ideas spark some off in your own mind.
asks you, "Is the Chelsea Flower Show worth going to?", what do you
say? Yes. It shouldn’t be my cup off tea –
hardly any edibles, big budgets, reasonably unsustainable etc, it’s the
gardening equivalent of Christmas, but it’s the one time when the world
looks at gardening and it genuinely gets people inspired to grow or to at least
take an interest in the growing spaces around them. And it’s a lot of
there a new vegetable or ornamental plant are you growing this year? A pluot – cross between a plum and
us your favourite joke. Bloke goes into a butchers and says ‘I’ll have a pound of
steak and kiddley please’ And the butcher says ‘You
mean steak and kidney dont you…’ And the
bloke says ‘That’s what I said diddle I?’ I know, it’s
There are many suggestions for dealing with slugs. What works for you? Slug pubs. Bottom few inches sliced off a plastic drink bottle and sunk into the ground, filled with cheap beer, with a roof ridge tile placed over the top to shade and keep it cool. Slugs love it, drink and fall in and die. Tip the lot onto the compost heap.