Cereal and grain shortages became so acute in the spring of 1916, that the Government realised they only had 6-weeks of adequate food stocks remaining. Grain needs good quality soil and a large space to grow in enough quantity, prefers the warmer months of the year and takes 6 months to be ready for harvest.
Potatoes, on the other hand, can be grown throughout the year (provided you pick the right variety), and will grow in poor soils, and small plots – even in a large bucket or flower-bed, and can be harvested within 3 months.
Consequently, everyone in the country was encouraged to grow potatoes, In 1916, members of Pershore WI were instructed to hand out seed potatoes to local residents to encourage them to grow their own. School children planted them in the playground. Event the famous garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, dug up her glorious South Border at Munstead Wood to fill it with potatoes.
Nothing was wasted. Small portions of meat were bolstered by large servings of boiled potato. Mashed or pureed potatoes were usually used as a substitute for flour and eggs in cake and savoury breads and pies – even potato peelings were boiled up as part of soups and stocks.