So last week I had the bright idea of doing a search for tires on Craigslist. I was looking for old, used, worn out tires. For free. To use in the garden. Something different to grow my potatoes in. Most years, by the time I get the onions and potatoes planted there isn’t much room for much else. And when it’s time to transplant the warmer season crops into the garden, the onions and potatoes still have 2+ months of growing left.
So this year I decided to try something different. I did a search for tire gardens. Golly gee, there are lots of results. Sweet. People plant their flowers in them. People plant their food crops in them. And even potatoes. Score! I also did a search for the hazards of growing food in tires and came up with a good amount of results. Nothing was really concrete. Most was for shredded tire mulch and the zinc that it releases into the ground. Some talked about the off-gassing or the lack there of with Earthships (Totally cool. I’ve seen some of these up close on the outskirts of Taos, NM on the west side of the Rio Grande gorge). I really didn’t think much past the hazards and got a few hits for tires on Craigslist. Bingo. So last Saturday, Zoe and I borrowed my dads truck and went to get our score. We made off with eighteen tires.
We get home and unload everything. I take a quick picture and post it on Facebook and started moving tires into place where I want them. Ten were saved for the potatoes and the rest in places to grow greens. It was perfect. I finally had something different and it didn’t cost me money. Someone made a quick comment on that picture I took about some of the tire leaching into the soil and eventually into the food. Hmm… So all Saturday night I researched. From forums and articles, and photos with captions. I was still at about a 50-50 split on still using the tires.
That night we also had dinner with my wifes parents. I asked my father-in-law if I could borrow his sabre saw so I could cut the side walls off the tires. Very candid, he responds, “Why don’t you just garden like people did back in the day?” I sat there at the dinner table a bit speechless. Why don’t I? I mean I have the room. I started my garden using this method of gardening back in 2008 and only switched after I had read up on using raised boxes and the square foot gardening method. Plus, I became irate with dealing with Bermuda grass. Using raised beds resolved this issue to a degree.
The next morning I sent a message to my sister about the whole tire gardening thing. I mean if there was someone I knew who could help me with me dilemma, it was the one that graduated from college with some kind of knowledge about chemicals and saving the planet. Or something to that effect.
Her answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was the answer I knew I should have went with all along. Don’t grow food in tires (Don’t worry about those strawberries I planted last fall. The didn’t make it, but that’s for another day).
So now I’m sitting here with 18 tires stacked up on the side of the house with no where to go. Sure, I’ll probably use a few to make some kind of flower planter out of. I spent most of Sunday pissed at myself and trying to figure out how I can create more growing space while not continuing to shell out money.
So I decided to split it up. Grow in the raised beds that I have now and use them for the leafy things and small root crops and the other half I’ll grow everything else, the way my grandparents did. We’ll see how this goes. The greenhouse is coming down soon too and that will add a substantial amount of room to grow. The panels are rotted from the sun and the frame is rusted out quite a bit. I may install some type of hoop house later on.
Oh, the potatoes? Picked up some 2ft tall wire mesh. Cut it into 3′ circles, place straw around the side and dirt in the middle. Add straw and dirt as the plant grows taller. Similar to the tire trick, but healthier.