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Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 9 March 2021

From the Garden: Midwinter is the time to grow veg in containers and to make root veg pie

This is a delicious, warming and healthy pie that utilises those vegetables that are still available in early January, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

APART FROM OCCASIONAL trips to grab some food for the table, I am not spending much time in the veg patch at the moment – the garden is generally speaking a cold and uninviting place at this time of the year and this January is no exception.

Luckily my absence won’t do much harm. The work I did getting beds cleared and covered down with compost or seaweed in November and December means that the veg patch is pretty much in lockdown, enjoying its winter slumber.

Later in the month, I will sow some seeds for early polytunnel crops – carrots direct in the soil, and beetroot in the potting shed for later planting out.  I have some fruit tree and bush pruning to do, and a bit of repair work on the veg patch gates. There are also still some crops to be cleared from the veg patch that I really should have done by now.  

But there’s nothing madly urgent or pressing – so I am relaxing (sort of), ignoring the monkey mind that tells me to get up and do some work.

Thankfully there’s still an abundance of food to be had from the garden and in stores. We’ve plenty of squashes, pumpkins and chutneys in the kitchen; carrots, leeks, sprouts and parsnips in the ground outside; kale, spinach, chard and oriental leaves in the polytunnel; and some swedes and beetroot in a box of sand in the garage.  

Really it is only spuds and onions that let me down badly this year – I am out of stock of both and having to buy them. Booo! Apart from that little hiccup, life is good.

The Basics: Container Growing

Using containers, GIYers can grow great vegetables on decks, patios, terraces, flat roofs, balconies, conservatories, or even on a kitchen shelf or windowsill.  Pretty much any container can be used to grow vegetables in – pots, trays, troughs, window boxes, grow bags, wheelbarrows, old watering cans, tyres etc. 

They should be a minimum of 6-10 inches deep and there must be drainage holes in the base. Put in a 1cm layer of small stones to aid drainage.

Most vegetables will grow well in containers – try lettuce, carrots, radishes, spring onions, cucumbers, swiss chard, courgettes, beetroot, chillies, aubergines, strawberries and tomatoes.

Recipe of the Week: Root Vegetable Pie

This is a delicious, warming and healthy pie that will utilise vegetables that are still available in the early January vegetable patch like carrots, celeriac and squash.  You don’t need to stick too slavishly to the recipe – use whatever root crops you have and experiment.


  • 1 quantity shortcrust pastry – 350g

  • 300g potatoes

  • 300g celeriac

  • 300g squash or pumpkin

  • 4 medium mushrooms

  • 1 red pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

  • 300g fresh ricotta (I’ve used feta too and it’s lovely)

  • ¾ cup grated cheddar or goats cheese

  • ½ cup grated parmesan


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  To the make the filling place the potato, celeriac, pumpkin, mushrooms and pepper in a baking dish and toss with the oil and rosemary – season well.  

Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Leave to cool. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a pie dish, trimming away the excess. Mix the vegetables with the ricotta and cheddar, and then fill the pie dish. Sprinkle the parmesan over it.  

Bake for 35 minutes until the pie is golden. Serves 4.

Michael Kelly is an author, broadcaster and founder of GIY.

About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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