Pig For Victory No.1: What to grow - fruit and vegetables for everyspace

As we come to the end of our Dig For Victory years and move out of the war into the dazzling world of post ration, 50s consumerism and onwards we want to end with the Pig For Victory leaflets that mean the most to us. So over the coming week we'll give you our seven days of growing, saving and digging. 

A common question from any new grower is what should I grow? Yet, many new gardeners and old gardeners fail to see the spaces around them that can be used. We are not talking beds and straight lines of vegetables here, we are talking spaces that are often wasted. They can be large or small but all spaces can be used, and can help new and old gardeners to produce more food and have a sense of achievement at home or at the allotment. Anyone reading this who has never grown can take a look at the lack of space where they live and despair, they may be worried about having no space to grow but it can literally take the form of a tower of pots outside your front door or on a windowsill. We all have space, we just have to start thinking clever.

Pots anywhere in the garden can create a harvest #thinkspace #growing


A tower of pots can be planted with lettuces or even soft fruits like strawberries. They don't need to be outside and can be grown on a windowsill. 


Think fruit over pathways, think space = think clever #growing #lifeonpigrow

If you have more space consider the fruit tree archway over your front path or even a soft fruit archway, where you can train trees, currants, gooseberries or long cane raspberries. You can go to and from work over summer picking as you go down your path.


Grow vertical = think clever = higher harvests #lifeonpigrow

Then there's walls and fences, they can be anywhere from balconies to doorways, they can be large or small but they can be home to vegetables and fruit. Above we're growing brown turkey fig in a large pot and peas on two wigwams. In between are cut and come lettuces. All this in a 6 foot by 2 foot space.


Large spaces can = waste. Think small = high yields #lifeonpigrow

Onions can often take over a large space but frankly you have to get clever if you have a small space and you can still have a taste of onions by growing chives in a pot, welsh onions or even spring onions. Space doesn't mean you have to give up on taste, you just have to consider crops for the space you want to grow in and remember that soil fertility is everything in a small space. Think clever!

Peas don't have to be in open ground #lifeonpigrow

Above you see peas in a three foot square but they can also be grown in large pots by the front door. Think space!


Herbs in pots on windowsills are a great harvest #lifeonpigrow

Herbs in a pot are also a great way to get a harvest in a small space. Just remember when you harvest them to choose how you preserve them, in ice cube trays, in oil, in vinegar. Think clever = think storage space.

Problem spaces means you have to think clever to get yields #lifeonpigrow

If you have a problem patch in your garden hand it over to a hardy crop, a forgiving crop and up here on the hills our king of problem patches is rhubarb. We chose this crop for a reason, the leaves can be used as a plant feed or pesticide, the roots are great for boggy areas and the stalks can be eaten during the season, preserved in syrup, alcohol or frozen. This is a versatile plant. Think clever!

Pallets have uses in small spaces, think clever, think space #lifeonpigrow

So, you have a backyard and no soil. Consider pallets and tyres. A pallet can be screwed to a walled, propped up and then a grow bag slid into the gaps and then planted into or if you want to get more fancy, as above you can create troughs and plant directly into them. We have a love of tyres at Pig Row as seasonal planters, they can be stacked and stored easily, are great in urban areas and rural areas (as they retain heat and give it back out during the night, like storage heaters) for planting everything from potatoes to rhubarb. Think clever! Think recycling planters! Tyres can be used as small coldframes over winter and the spent compost used as a mulch the next spring.

Tyres can be used as planters and coldframes #lifeonpigrow

Then there are those spaces that a majority of gardeners are guilty of wasting. Top on the list is the compost heap. Never leave a heap to be wasted, during the growing season it should be full with last year's compost rotting down, top it up with manure and fresh compost, plant into it: marrows, courgettes, pumpkins, radishes and lettuces. Think space = think clever!


Compost heap = think clever #lifeonpigrow

Even if you have a larger space to play with consider varieties that grow well close together. You don't need large cabbages where you will ditch a majority of the outer leaves to the compost heap when you can go for varieties that grow closer together, result in higher yields and less wastage. Think space = think clever.


Large cabbages can = more waste. Small cabbages can = less waste, higher yields in a smaller space #lifeonpigrow

Lush growth in open ground does not always equal high harvests. We have discovered during our wartime garden years that yields of spuds in open ground can be outstripped by those grown in containers around the garden. Every space not used can house a container and all those containers can add up to high yields. Think space = think clever.


Open ground vs containers #lifeonpigrow

Even a seed tray can provide a harvest. Grow some lettuces in plugs and keep them well watered and harvest. If the plugs get ahead of you then you can pop them out and into...


Lettuce in a seed tray #lifeonpigrow

...the ground. Think clever = less waste.

Lettuces in open ground #lifeonpigrow

Every space in the garden should be used, from the walls to the paths, to the windowsills, to the shed roofs and compost heaps. You can use your front step, the wall outside your bedroom window, the kitchen windowsill. Just remember that if you THINK SPACE = THINK CLEVER = LESS WASTE. Be brave, small spaces add up to yields of food you can eat, large spaces don't always = food.


In the kitchen:

Pig For Victory Series (Our own Dig For Victory pamphlets and films): 

Links to Andrew writing on the Wartime Garden for other publications:

Dig For Victory and Pre-War Films

You can type wartime garden in our search box to find more results.

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