I telephoned a local garage in search of used tyres (for free, naturally). 'How many thousand would you like?', asks he. 'Sixty will do,' says I. 'What are they for?', asks he. 'Vegetable towers,' says I. 'I'll deliver,' says he. 'I want to see what you're up to!'
The tyres have proved a fantastic resource. They don't rot like wood, they are low-maintenance - our favourite word - and they have lots of uses:
* Vegetable towers: planting, tending and harvesting vegetables improves children's social skills and offers learning opportunities across the curriculum. There are just as real benefits for children who live in flats with no access to gardens, as there are for children with gardens but no gardeners in the family! Growing vegetables shows that not everything comes from shops.
Last year we planted one tyre with spring onions, had a two-tyre stack with leeks, a three-tyre stack with carrots and a four-tyre stack with potatoes.
* Flower 'boxes': last year we planted shrubs and bedding plants in truck tyres. Some we painted, others we left plain as the black is a good contrast with tumbling plants such as geraniums.
* Outdoor play equipment: our children stack and jump inside them, make dens and barricades with them - and use lots of energy and imagination.
Vegetable towers Next month we will clean out the tyres in preparation for this year's planting. If you want to plant some:
* A good tip is to line the insides with newspaper, so reducing the amount of compost needed.
* Stack the tyres as high as you like. Most vegetables can grow in single stacks, but towers of different sizes provide aesthetic value. The exception is potatoes, which need plenty of depth to produce a good crop.
* When planting the potatoes, let the children stuff a tyre with newspaper, fill it with compost and potatoes, and water it well (messy, but good fun).
* When the shoots are about 2cm long, put another tyre on top and fill with compost. Repeat until you have a stack of four tyres.
* The really fun part comes in the harvesting. Help the children remove the tyres one by one and watch the potatoes cascade about them.
* Use them with the other vegetables to make soup or display for the parents to take home.
* For more information on Clutha Street Day Nursery's award-winning garden, see Nursery World, 30 August 2001