Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wartime Garden: Harvesting Potatoes in Tyres

Back in May we started our potato trial using Isle of Jura and Harlequin and three types of compost, 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). We want to compare yields and growth of foliage by growing them in containers. We decided in the make do and mend spirit to use tyres. We've discussed the pros and cons of using tyres on our Facebook Page, and we selected only those tyres that we're still complete and showing no signs of wire rusting through. We selected tyres because, as in the war, they are a contemporary object that are easy to find and often free. We planted Isle of Jura and Harlequin into three tyres each, using each of the three composts per tyre, this meant that we had six tyres in total and these tyres were stacked up by one tyre only as the potato foliage grew. A few days ago we found two willing helpers, one came with an ice cream scoop.

Harvesting potatoes in tyres, pros and cons

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wartime Garden: The Battle With Yields

1943 was a boon year for domestic growing; gardeners and allotmenteers produced one million tons of produce for the national larder. It was the glory year for Dig For Victory but there was a problem with the nation's soil, it was growing weary and diseases were starting to build as early as 1942. The battle against pests and bugs came to the fore in 1944 with the Blitz on Bugs but it hid a growing concern in Whitehall, no matter what was done to the soil at home, yields could decline and if the war continued beyond 1945, Britain would lose the war. We would have been starved off our island. It is in 1944 we start to see the real promotion of chemicals to eradicate pests, boost yields and solve problems. The soil was forgotten. It was the start of our decline into monoculture through a chemical kosh. We are organic at Pig Row and have noticed our soil is tired, it has been reflected in growth rates and this has been exacerbated by a cool spring, blazing summer and then a cold August. August is our harvest month and rather than a flood we are seeing a trickle. We won't even go into our tomato yields this year, we had over 100lbs last year, we're still eating the sauces we made in 2013, this year we barely have enough to fill a cup. We can see this in our wartime beds photographed in 2014:

Gardening problems.
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