Wanted to share some of our trials and experiments with you. You may or may not want to try any of these, just thought I’d share – We grow potatoes in tires! We have had great success with this and it takes very little space and you don’t have to hill dirt in rows (yeah – I always hated hoeing dirt!)
To grow potatoes in tires you will first need to cut the sidewalls. You can cut the sidewalls out using a standard box cutter / utility knife.
If you get a “radial” tire you will still be able to cut the sidewall out however it will just take a little more elbow power.
One thing that we do different is – in the bottom of each tire we drill 6 – 8 drainage holes about the diameter of your thumb. To drill the drainage holes we use a large drill bit on a drill. We also tried using the utility knife to cut the drainage holes, which works but takes longer to do than the drill. However if you don’t have a drill this is a way to cut them out.
Next we put straw in the “outer” part of the tire and fill the “hole” of the tire with dirt several inches deep. Next put in the seed potatoes, usually around 3 – 6 depending on the size of the tire.
Lastly goes straw to cover the entire tire. Be sure to cover it well as any sunlight getting to the taters will turn them green.
Once the potato leaves start emerging we add another tire and more straw (no more dirt – just straw) to where there is only a couple of leaves sticking out of the straw. As the plants continue to grow keep doing this. We usually end up with a stack of tires “5” high.
Once the green leaves of the plants start to die, it is time to harvest your crop. Take each tire off and in the “clean” straw you will find your “clean” potatoes. That is the advantage of using straw over dirt in the tires.
(You of course can use dirt instead of straw if you like)
Also, when we harvest the potatoes the straw can either go into the compost pile or can be used as “mulch” over other plants in your garden.
Over the years we have experimented with just dirt in each layer of the tires.
Another year we experimented with both dirt and straw combined in each layer of the tires.
Last year we experimented with just dirt in the bottom tire and only straw in the remaining tires.
All of these methods work, however using the later you will have clean potatoes and when it comes time to harvest it is much easier to disassemble the tires when they are not full of heavy dirt.
Again, be sure to use enough straw so that the sunlight cannot get to your taters or they will turn green and not be edible.
Last year we had 12 tire potato plants that will each end up being stacked “5” high each. This year I am going to experiment with laying a bag of dirt in the bottom tire, cutting an “ X “ out and laying my seed potatoes in it, then doing the straw method as stated above.
The reason for doing this is our potato crop is around the perimeter of our pool and we are laying down gravel and making a potato “garden” per say. So the tires will be sitting on gravel and not on the ground, so putting the bag of dirt down will be my grow dirt and then I will continue the process with the straw.
We will see how it goes . . . if it does not work then we will go back to putting the tire directly on the ground.
I can tell you we have done several different methods for growing potatoes in tires and all have been successful – but for us we like getting “clean” potatoes and we always have straw laying around so it works for us.