You may have heard about growing potatoes in tires and while it is intriguing, is it safe? In this article, we will examine this unique idea and give you tips to make it as safe and hygienic as possible.
Is it safe to grow potatoes in tires: You can use old tires to grow potatoes but it’s a good idea to wash the tires first. If they are old tires, rinse them off with water and then wash them with soap. Tires are useful as you can add an extra layer as your potato grows and you need to add more soil. You can also place the tires anywhere in your yard, which will free up space for other plants.
Can I grow potatoes in a tire?
Yes, you can grow potatoes in a tire! In fact, using tires is a great way of adapting to the way you need to plant and grow potatoes.
As we’ll explain shortly, there are quite a few steps when growing potatoes. They need a process called hilling, in which you add new layers of soil as the plant grows.
While you can use a simple container for this process, by stacking the tires as your potatoes grow, you not only have easier access to the plants but it is also kind of fun.
Pros of using old tires for growing potatoes
There’s a good chance you have at least one tire in your garage. Ask around the neighborhood and you’re likely to find a few more.
You will need at least three used tires for each set of potatoes you want to grow so if you have enough tires, you can grow a lot of plants. In contrast, if you use new containers for your potatoes, this can add up.
Easy to harvest
Potatoes need to be completely dug up when they are ready. If you accidentally leave some behind, they will continue to grow which can disrupt other root vegetables that you plant after your potato season.
By using old tires, you can be assured that you get all the potatoes at once and there is no extra effort needed. It’s also quite fun taking a tire off at a time and revealing what is inside.
Easier to plant
If you decide to plant your potatoes directly in your garden, this requires more effort. You will need to dig trenches to plant the potatoes, which requires a lot of physical effort.
Apart from having to lift the tires, using tires does not require as much effort as planting in the ground. Therefore, it is a great option if you are looking for an easier way of planting.
Because you are adding soil to the tires, you don’t have to take up precious garden space for your potatoes. You can plant on any solid ground, whether it is fertile or not.
Most people will have a part of their yard that has compacted soil or is unused. You can place your tires here to grow potatoes and leave the most fertile areas in your garden for plants that actually need to grow in the ground.
Cons of using old tires for growing potatoes
As we mentioned, you need three tires for each set of potato plants. Usually, you can plant between two and four plants per set of tires.
If you want more plants, that means finding more tires, which can be a hassle. You may have to settle for fewer potato plants than you would like.
Placing the first tire is easy for your potato garden as you can roll it on the ground. However, for the second and third tires, you will need to lift them up and place them on top.
Then, when it is time to harvest, you will have to take apart the tires. Again, this will require lifting and more effort to move the soil around.
As you can imagine, if you have any mobility issues or back problems, this isn’t feasible. It definitely helps if you have a friend or neighbor who can do the heavy lifting for you.
Potatoes are best planted two weeks before the last frost date in the spring. However, spring can be unpredictable and you may have an unexpected hard frost.
To protect your potatoes, it is best to move their container indoors during this period. As you can imagine, it won’t be possible to move your tires indoors.
How to use old tires for growing potatoes
To get started growing potatoes, follow these steps. While they are easy to grow, potatoes need to be monitored so make a note in your garden planner to regularly inspect your plants to keep them thriving.
Build the foundation
Using old tires is great for potatoes but the ground needs to be completely flat. Otherwise, the dirt can escape under the bottom of a tire, leading to too much soil run-off.
Start by selecting an area that gets full sun. Potatoes need at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Furthermore, the area needs to have good drainage. If you are worried the ground you are using is too compacted, add a layer of bedrock so the water has a place to escape to. Use a rake to make sure the rock is even.
Place your first tire down. If using multiple tires, you don’t have to worry too much about the spacing between tires but there should be enough room for you to move around them.
The first tire you place down will be your soil foundation. Take a mixture of potting soil and compost and fill it to the brim of the tire.
It is essential to use potting soil in this stage as it is designed not to compact too much. Again, always keep in mind that there is proper drainage for tires.
Plant the potatoes
Be sure to use seed potatoes from your local gardening center and not grocery store potatoes. They will be better suited to your regional climate.
The potatoes need to have small roots, or eyes developed. While you can plant one potato whole, you can also cut it into pieces, as long as there are at least two eyes in each piece.
If you decide to cut the potato up, leave it for a day or two so that the cut end can seal itself. This will prevent the potatoes from rotting.
You can fit between two and four potatoes in each tire. Place them near the edge to give them as much room as possible. Place the potatoes on top of the soil with the eyes pointing up towards the sky.
Next, add another tire on top of the first one. Line it up so there is as much room in the middle as possible. Add two inches of soil on top of the potatoes but don’t fill the second tire completely with soil.
Monitor the potatoes
Your potato plants will start to grow, so keep the soil moist but not saturated with water. Hand water if you don’t get enough water in the spring.
After your potato plants are about 6 inches high, you can add more soil so that half the plant is covered. This will force the plant to grow potatoes under the soil.
Potatoes can grow quickly, so you might be adding that third tire and repeating the steps sooner than you anticipated. While most potato plants only need three tires, if you have very large plants, you will need to add a fourth tire.
Harvest the potatoes
Toward the end of summer, your potato plants will start to flower. After this happens, you can then harvest the potatoes.
If you only want a few potatoes, use your hand to dig under the soil until you can grab the potatoes. Don’t use a shovel as you can accidentally damage the potatoes.
Alternatively, you can remove all the tires and harvest the potatoes all at once. This might be a messy step, so have a wheelbarrow nearby to capture all the dirt.
Is it safe to use old tires as planters?
Yes, it is safe to use old tires. However, you want to make sure they are clean and there is no residual oil left on them.
If you are using old tires found in your garage, give them a rinse with a hose and scrub them down with soapy water. This is a good step to take anyway, as it will ensure there is no mold or unwanted substances that can infect your potato plants.
Are Tires Good Planters?
Tires make for excellent potato planters. They are easy to come by, so they are a cheap alternative to buying new containers.
As you need to continually add extra soil as your potatoes grow, you can simply keep stacking the tires to accommodate the size of your potato plants.
If you want to be a bit creative with your garden, using old tires is an excellent way to grow potatoes. You need at least three tires to get started but it will make the experience easy and fun.