Thursday, April 11, 2013

Growing Potatoes in Old Car Tires

I'm making Tater Tires. Let me explain. I've had a number of small- to medium- sized gardens over the years but I have never tried growing potatoes. I recently read, in several different books, how you can grow a LOT of potatoes in a small amount of space by using a stack of car tires or a feed sack or anything else that will allow you to grow the taters vertically and deep. Potatoes develop under the ground so they need lots of loose, deep soil. This is a challenge, especially here on the edge of the Texas Hill Country where I have approximately 0.5 inches of top soil (I wish I were kidding). Even in my garden, where the soil has been built up, I only have maybe 6 inches of the stuff.

My favorite description of this method of potato production comes from Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen's book The Urban Homestead (Expanded & Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. (They also have a great blog called Root Simple.) To make Tater Tires you need 3 or 4 old car or truck tires of about the same size. You lay the first tire in a good sunny spot and break up the ground beneath it a little bit.

Then you fill the tire with a bunch of soil or compost or potting soil. Apparently the potatoes are not particular, they just want it to be pretty loose. I read somewhere else that you can even use rotting leaves. I happened to have some half-rotted compost so I used that.

I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about this compost mix because I've been throwing the soiled pine shavings from the baby poultry on this compost pile for the last week or two. I know that fresh bird manure will burn plants, so I worked the shavings into the compost pile pretty well, hoping to avoid the dreaded "burn". The shavings did give the compost mix a nice, workable texture, though.

After I got the compost pushed down into the tire, being careful to fill under the edges, I picked out a couple of Yukon Gold seed potatoes that I recently bought at Home Depot. I'm sort of horrified that I bought seed potatoes because I could've just used a couple of old potatoes that had started making eyes. But, alas, I was seduced by the little bag of seed potatoes.

I dug two little holes and planted the potatoes with the eyes pointing up, about 3 inches deep. When the plants grow tall enough to clear a second tire I will throw another tire (and more compost) on the pile. When they've grown enough to clear a third tire I will add another, and possibly a fourth tire later on.

By covering the plant as it grows I'll be forcing the plant to grow an extra-long taproot and thereby produce far more potatoes than it would have normally. At the end of the growing season, when the potato plant turns yellow or dies back, it's time to harvest the potatoes. "Punk rock style, you can just kick the whole stack over, revealing the entire tater treasure within", say Kelly and Erik in The Urban Homestead. They also say that a yield of 20 pounds of potatoes per stack is common!

I'll keep y'all posted on my Tater Tires. And maybe later I'll talk about how I got the tires in the first place. I have a feeling I might have trouble wresting the other three tires away from the kids...
The tire jump after I forbid them from jumping off of the full, wobbling stack!


  1. We're planting potatoes this weekend, I can't wait to hear how yours do in the tires!

  2. I'll keep you posted! Are you planting yours directly in the ground?

  3. In the event that you have old auto tires staying nearby in the carport set them to work developing vegetables. Uproot the inside center point and simply utilize the elastic tire itself. The tires make convenient plant holders when set in the patio nursery. They are additionally valuable stacked. The tires will last a significant number of seasons and can be utilized a seemingly endless amount of time.

  4. At first when I read the title of this post, it was little confusing but when I started reading the content, got it. So, potatoes are growing now in old tires and also some other playing products for kids from these tires. Matter of pleasure that after getting defect also people trying to use it in their daily life! Well, it’s a good plan, car tires need to be replaced if they had gone through wear and tear. A defected tire can have impact on the suspension system as well the fuel efficiency and on the engine also up to some extent. So, it is smarty enough to maintain the tires well during its life span and replace it whenever needed.

  5. Just when you thought it would be impossible to grow potatoes in your own backyard, someone tells you about the ingenious - although no longer new - idea of growing potatoes in old car tyres. What could be more sustainable than this? You get to find a use for what would probably otherwise become landfill, and you get to grow veggies for your family to eat and enjoy.Read more

  6. Old car tires are vital reasons behind the occurrence of most car accidents these days. The newer ones usually have a tread depth of approximately 8mm, whereas, the older ones come with a tread depth of roughly 1.5mm.

  7. The benefit in choosing such tires is that they provide great durability. They are made from good rubber and allow better traction on the road surfaces. They can also enhance the performance of the tires. Abitsaving,com

  8. This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here! mobile truck repair


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