Welsh TV presenter Chris Segar grew up in a big family and recalls much of his childhood being spent outdoors. “I am one of 6 children and all jobs were delegated. I shelled peas. I was only allowed to eat the very small ones, there was a very strict code of pea discipline in our family,” he explains.
“ I grew up in North Wales and knew every path and rock on the side of the mountain. We played outdoors all day until dusk, having huge freedom to climb trees and explore. Today it would be considered negligent and we are so much poorer for it. I remember Uncle Arthur used to keep chickens and I’d collect the eggs, I’d love to keep chickens now but my lifestyle doesn’t permit me to stand still long enough these days.”
Chris does manage to find some time for his allotment, claiming, “the good honest toil is good for you and brings many rewards. When I pick the first ripe tomato warm from the vine I know why I spent all the time caring for it.”
He adds that not everyone feels the same about hard work. “I’ve seen people on the allotments last for 3 or 6 months and then give up. They don’t realise its such hard work and think they can just pick fruit and veg straight away. Nature fights back all the time; gardening is fighting a losing battle, we are mere minnows compared to Nature who has couch grass, bindweed, jackdaws and mice in her arsenal. It’s a never ending struggle with the occasional joy,“ he muses.
The canny consumer’s rights Champion who host’s ITV’s The Ferret, has discovered his own way of keeping the hard work to a minimum. “I’m developing my allotment into an orchard to avoid digging. I grow peaches, lots of different apples, apricots, plums, pears, a medlar, lots of currants and quince. I picked so many quince last year I couldn’t carry them all. I found a great Persian recipe for chicken and quince. You cut the quince in quarters like pears, parboil them and then fry slowly in butter; they were delicious and are used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking.”
Such is Chris’s enjoyment of gardening he is actually a 3-garden man and also enjoys ferreting around in the environment for props.
“I’ve got a garden in Cardiff, one in France and even a nice little plot at the caravan on the Gower. I’ve developed a nice garden in Brittany as it’s a little warmer and more pleasant, I can grow lemons there. To me, heaven is citrus fruit grown outdoors,” he confesses. “And I love using the environment when I can, picking hazel sticks for beanpoles for example and did you know that dogwood was used for skewers long before bamboo?