There is a new wrinkle on the old “Victory Garden” that was so popular in the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Germany during the world wars. Private homes, public parks, and even the occasional balcony served to boost morale and to make a small contribution to the overall food effort during war times. New times bring new solutions to the same problem.
Today, it is not merely contributing to the shrinking food supply, but to be mindful of the ecological consequences of wasted space and energy. Have you ever been close to a burning land-fill full of tires? Instead of dumping your otherwise useless old tires, consider creating a “tire garden” in your back yard, or wherever you have some extra outdoor space.
Whether you’re a “survivalist,” a member of the Peace Corps’ food security program or an urban resident, a “tire garden” can accomplish both functions of the victory garden of yesteryear and more.
Best of all, tire gardens are free and easy to build. I bet you can even involve your kids and give them a few, fun-filled hours. Kid love to play with dirt! You can also bring education into play as they eagerly await sprouting seeds later on.
First, of course, you need to find one or more old tires. Make sure that it is soft and truly unfit for its normal use of transporting your old pickup! Also, check to make sure that none of the tire’s wire or metal is sticking through the rubber so you (or the kids) don’t get cut.
Reserve this part for yourself, preferably when the kids are not present. Cut the tire’s rim and leave two handles on opposite sides. This helps in lifting the tire, especially if you cut some loops through the handles.
To create more room for planting, you will need to flip the entire tire inside out. This creates a bigger wall for holding your garden dirt. This will be the most difficult part of the endeavor, and you might need someone to pull or push on the opposite side of the tire. If you simply can’t get it done, stop by a mechanic’s shop and they can flip them inside out for you.
Now it’s time for the kids! Get them to find a dozen healthy sticks to make a bottom or floor over the tire’s center hole. If you’ll cover that with fabric (it can be nylon or polyester), it will help to let water escape but keep your dirt in place.
Come on kids, get that dirt!
If available, use a mixture of dirt and compost. Keep it moist but not wet, and fill the tire nearly to the top.
It’s time to plant!
Start with an easy herb garden. You always need herbs, and it will help you estimate the types of other vegetables you can grow. Cucumbers and tomatoes are always in demand. Try for cauliflower, broccoli and spinach. Invest in a little book for growing seasons. Annual plants are, of course, a natural to boost spirits and add a few accents of beauty anywhere.
Keep your garden soil moist and don’t let it dry out. If you live in a regular, rainy area, let nature take its course.
If you live in the country and have little critters like rabbits or deer nibbling on your new sprouts, build a little stick-fence around your tire garden. Tire gardening proves you don’t have to have expensive or fancy trappings to start a garden…anywhere!