Tips, Tricks & Trends

Got Old Used Tires? Try Growing This Common Food

We’ve all felt the slow of our social lives in the last few months. Quarantine has been a time for hunkering down and maybe trying our hand at some DIY projects. Gardening is a productive way to pass the time. So are home projects and upgrades to our favorite automobiles. There may even be a good way to repurpose your old used tires.

car tires
Used Tires | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

At this point, it’s safe to say many of us have some old used tires stashed somewhere that we don’t really know what to do with. Turns out, there is a really cool way to combine our love for improving our cars and a nifty DIY quarantine garden project. You can actually grow food in used tires. Potatoes, in particular, do quite well in the environment created by a used tire garden bed.

DIY used tire quarantine garden project

According to an article by Instructables Living, this is a great way to grow potatoes in any amount of space. It is particularly useful in confined areas where growing potatoes in traditional rows is more difficult. Used tires make the perfect place to grow potatoes for your quarantine garden project.

used tires stacked for growing potatoes for your quarantine gardening project
used tire potato garden | Instructables Living

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In the article, it’s explained in a step by step process. First, it’s important to put your tires over a well draining surface. A bed of rocks works great. After that, you’ll stack some tires. Two or three are shown in the article. I’ve used this method with both two and three used tire stacks and both options are effective.

Next, you’ll want to find a nice sunny spot for your used tire potato garden. Once this step is complete, fill the bottom tire with damp amended soil and compost. Then you can put about 4 or 5 seed potatoes about 2 inches deep before covering them with a few more inches of dirt. Starting this DIY garden project is that easy. You can even paint the tires for a splash of color.

Then what?

As your potatoes grow, you’ll add soil over the tops of the foliage until you fill the entire stack. Also, don’t forget to keep the soil in the tires nice and moist. The warm damp environment that the tires provide is ideal for potatoes. Baby potatoes will fill all three tires. According to SFGate, “potatoes are ready to harvest when the foliage turns yellow, unless you harvest early potatoes; you can harvest early potatoes once the flowers have opened or buds have dropped.”

young red potatoes
Red potatoes | SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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One of the best parts about this method is that when it’s time to harvest, you just lift the tires off one by one and collect the food you’ve just grown. It eliminates the need to dig for your potato harvest. It’s a fantastic job to give your old used tires and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you put food on your table that you’ve grown yourself as a result of your quarantine garden project.

Is it safe to grow food in old tires?

The only downside to this method is that some argue that as tires break down, they may leach harmful waste into the soil you are growing in. That said, it’s a very common practice. According to Gardening Know How, there are several factors to weigh in on whether growing in old used tires is right for you.

First, the primary off-gassing of tires happens in the first year or so. That’s why new tires have that distinctive scent. So, by the time your used rubber plays a part in your quarantine grading project, some might say it’s pretty safe. This is because the break down of the tires at this point is so slow that it takes decades. However, the actual amount of potentially harmful chemicals that leach into the growing soil is unknown.

Some feel that it’s worth the risk because of the off-set to tire waste in general, which can be considered harmful to the environment. The trade-off is valuable enough for certain gardeners to take the risk. That said, it’s really up to you if the benefits outweigh the risks. If you do decide to put your old rubber to work for your quarantine gardening project, it does––at least––work very well in terms of potato production.