Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Recycling tractor tyres

We recycle as much as we can and reuse or repurpose household and garden objects whenever it is practical to do so. Over the last five months we have walked around the smallholding several times looking at everything that is lying around to decide how we can reuse it. Behind the piggeries (where there is a mess of 'that could be useful one day' things) we found two old tractor front tyres. We instantly knew how these could be used in the kitchen garden.

Late this afternoon, Mr J rolled the big, old tractor tyres into the paddock and placed them in the kitchen garden. I lined the base area with thick cardboard to kill off the grass beneath their middles and packed out the hollow of the tyres with hay. It was old hay that had been left at the back of the stables by the previous owners, so to protect myself from the risk of breathing in unpleasant dust and dangerous spores (after all I really don't want to risk aspergillosis issues) I made sure that my nose and mouth were well covered while I did this and I wore an old top and gloves that will be thoroughly washed before I wear them again.
Meanwhile Mr J emptied the contents of the green compost cone into a wheel barrow. He put a full barrow of composted grass clippings, animal bedding and manure into the centre of each tyre. We are both really pleased with how well this compost has rotted down in the four or five weeks since I first made the compost heap. It should complete the rotting down process while it's in these tyres.

Tomorrow we will part-fill the centre of the tyre with soil mixed with bought-in peat free compost. These big old tyres will make ideal planters for some potatoes to grow in. As the plants grow we can top up soil level in each tyre to earth up the potato plants. The hay around the soil and the compost below the soil should help keep it warm and encourage strong growth.

Later in the year when it's time to harvest the tubers we should be able to lift the tyre up, leaving a pile of soil filled with potatoes. Then we can move the tyres to another spot in the garden ready for another crop next year.

I've also spotted a couple of very old car tyres behind the piggeries so tomorrow we plan to move those to the same area, perhaps between the two tractor tyres. If we stack the car tyres one on top of the other, they should come to a similar height. We can line them with old paper (as we've now used all the hay) and cover the base in compost topped with the soil mix. then we'll have a third potato growing container.

The grassy area around the tyres will be covered with thick cardboard, then a soil-and-compost mix and I'll plant it up with young plants (if I can find someone with strawberry runners that they'd like to donate or swap for other plants, that would be perfect) and then I will mulch it with straw to keep in the moisture. I hope to find some bricks or wood to edge this small area to keep the soil separate from whatever we decide to put on the pathways to cover the weed suppressing membrane. And that will be another area sorted out for this year!

This evening, as we put the ducks to bed and locked in the chickens for the night, Mr J took this rather lovely photo of the sun low in the sky behind our smallholding. It's an angle of the garden that I don't often look at and I like way our neighbour's trees (in the distance on the left) echo our own fruit trees.

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