This past winter I decided to try growing potatoes in tires. I have never grown potatoes before, mainly because it seems they take up a lot of space. Living in a small urban lot, space is a premium. The method is basically planting 2-3 seed potatoes per tire. Once the leaves get high, you add another tire and fill with dirt, leaving about 4″ of leaves exposed still. You continue stacking tires as they grow. The stems are suppose to be forced to make new tubers, or potatoes.

Although this may not be the most attractive feature of my garden, I honestly don’t care too much. There is a lot of funky stuff going on in our backyard. This just kind of adds to that atmosphere. It also acts as a good separator for the future patio from the rest of the garden. This project actually served a dual purpose of growing potatoes and also having a place to dump the soil from the patio we are digging.

Last weekend I spent an hour or so adding a new tire to the stack. The slight complication is that not all the potatoes in one tire are the same height. So I didn’t evenly fill the second tire layer, but filled it partially, then mounded around the taller plants. A few days of sun really sends them shooting up.

It’s been raining in Portland all week, being Rose Festival time and all. But in another week or two, I expect they will be ready for a new tire layer. The question then becomes how many of these tires do I exactly want back there? I think I will go for one more layer, but call it good after that. Can’t wait until this fall when I get to see exactly how productive this method of growing potatoes will prove itself.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson