This is a new venture for me: growing potatoes in tires. I read about this initially on this Ed Hume website and became intrigued. Looking back, I must have meant to just research growing potatoes in general and somehow discovered the concept of using old tires to do it.

It intrigues me for a couple reasons. First, it is one step better than recycling. The best step is to reduce consumption all together, then reusing materials, then recycling the materials. Many tire centers, maybe all, have a system of recycling already in place. But it seems like a good opportunity to reuse before getting to that stage. I went to my local tire store and they gave me five for free – for starters. They said they have about 300 more should I need them…

Second, I like this idea because it maximizes production while limiting space. The whole idea is that you plant potatoes in one tire, then cover them with dirt. Once their greens reach about four inches, you add another tire and cover them with more dirt. The theory is that the greens are forced to turn into tubers (more potatoes) and regrow their greens. Doing this about 3-4 tires high results in forced production of more potatoes.

I am referring to this as a theory because I can’t say I have done this before. But apparently it’s worked for the person who has the site referenced above. They also talk about planting potatoes in straw, instead of dirt. I combined the tire/straw methods into one method. I don’t have enough soil lying around to fill all these tires, but I certainly have plenty of straw.

I didn’t realize you only need 2-3 seed potatoes per tire. After cruising the selection at Portland Nursery, I came home with five different potato varieties and enough of each to plant two base tires – that’s ten tire towers for potatoes. This weekend I am heading back to the tire store to get five more old tires to plant. I am growing Fingerling Russian Banana, Yukon Gold, Russet Norkotah, All Blue, and Red La Soda. Nice rounded out combo, eh?

At one time I considered growing my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in tires since they would enjoy the heat drawn in from the black tire rubber, but I simply don’t have the room in the yard. I’m afraid my backyard would look like an obstacle course… So for this year, the experiment with tires is solely focused on potatoes. Think it will work?

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Written by Renee Wilkinson