Pig for Victory No.6: Potatoes for Every Space & Child

We have decided this year to grow more potatoes but the problem with spuds is that they take up a lot of room when they are in the ground. You also have to accept once you have potatoes, you have potatoes for many years to come no matter how much you think you've got them all. For a few years we have been drawn to the idea of growing in containers, and when our car mechanic snapped our hand off when we asked could we have some tyres, we decided to give it a go with the thirty tyres that he brought up to Pig Row.

Potato planters can be cheaper than you think.

We lined the bottom of the washed tyres with newspaper to stop the compost falling out. We are using three types, compost from our own heaps (Free bar the labour), an organic compost by Moorland Gold (£4.25 from a garden centre and recommended by the Soil Association for organic growers) and a cheap three for two compost from a garden centre (£10). However, it's how we will treat them as they grow, some will literally be earthed up and the rest will be covered with straw as we stack the tyres on top. We want to compare yields with those in the ground with those in tyres. We are using tyres after to learning the technique from Bob Flowerdew. 

Planting potatoes in old tyres.

After placing newspaper at the bottom of the tyre we it filled with the compost (each tyre got a different compost as outlined above) making sure that it filled the entire void. 

How many spuds to put in a 15 inche tyre.

We then planted three chitted potatoes to each tyre. A chitted spud is a forced spud, allowed to grow short stubby shoots in a light, dry place. We put our in crates and allow them to sprout these short stubby shoots.

Getting kids involved in gardening.

The great thing about spuds is that kids can get involved as they are easy to handle. Little D, plastered in sun cream, with his new shades that he selected (he thinks they're cool) took an active hand in planting the spuds.

You have to remember that kids who garden will get it wrong.

This is a general warning for anyone with pre-schoolers who get them to help them plant potatoes, if they make a whooshing, falling bomb noise and they're holding the spud, they will chuck it in the hole and laugh. The explosion will normally be a wet raspberry. The downside of this is that the chitted spuds will be stripped of their shoots and the child will fall over laughing mid-raspberry. It took four attempts to get Little D to understand that potatoes are not for dive bombing and his response to this was not a happy one, there was protestation (see the photo above).

Potatoes in tyres can mean greater yields.

Once the spuds are planted, label them and water them. Again, if you have a pre-schooler you have to accept that they love to water, they love to water the ground around the spuds, the plant that is dead in pot, the black plastic keeping down the weeds, the metal obelisk, themselves, they like to water anything but the thing you showed them to water. When they do come to water the thing you want them to water, they somehow believe tipping the watering can like a bucket is the best option. Normally accompanied by the raspberry noise and chortling. Thankfully, spuds don't wash away like seeds and are therefore kid friendly. Over the next few weeks we'll add the other tyres and start to earth up with compost or straw to see which ways work the best. Little D will also continue to water and generally abuse the spuds to make them grow.

Some of the Wartime Garden links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog