Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

How To Successfully Grow Potatoes In Tires

Troy Brooks


Here’s a question that I get from potato lovers:  “How can I grow potatoes in abundance in limited space?”

Growing potatoes in tires can be quite simple and here are my instructions how to do it and have a bumper crop.  You get a chance to do some recycling and vertical gardening all together.

Depending on the size of the tires, I first wash them. If they are small enough for me to get them in my pickup truck, I’ll take them to a car wash and wash them under pressure with soap then rinse with water. Inside the tire and outside as well, making sure the tread is free from road grim and grit.

You’ll want to set the tire away from an prevailing winds to keep their foliage from getting wind damage.  Make sure the spot you select will be free of most foot traffic and out of the way of activities to avoid the set-up from being knocked over.

Press down any growth on the ground such as clover or grass, and lay a thick mat of saturated newspapers over the grass or area which you will be setting the tire over. Over this put down 2 nice layers of cardboard: one long ways, the other cross ways: you can cut the cardboard away AFTER you position the tires on top of the cardboard. The newspaper will soon deteriorate into the soil, but the cardboard hangs around for awhile, giving added protection against weeds and grass that would come up into the tire.

Whether or not you trim away the rim of the top tire is your decision. Some tires I do trim, others I do not. The bigger the tire is, the more likely I am to trim away the sidewall up to its tread. (This is just my own way of doing things).

Wet the cardboard down really good then start stuffing newspapers, leaves, straw, corncobs, sawdust or whatever you have that will absorb moisture into the inner rim of the tires so when rains come, the organic material will take up the excess moisture and hold it until the plants need it the most: moisture will “wick” away from the inner rim into the main tire container area.waterpotatoes.thumb.jpg.3184bad054be95a4a008f613e9bd8615.jpg

Once the rim is packed with such materials you have on hand or can obtain at no cost to you or for little cost, crumble your topsoil, potting soil and cover the cardboard with 3 or so inches of this mixture, then seat your potato seeds into that mixture. I always add a dusting of hardwood ashes I’ve kept from the wood stove over the potatoes. Potash is very good for root crops.

Once your potatoes are in place, dusted with wood ash, cover with a layer (not pressed down) of straw, shredded newspapers, compost, or whatever mulch you’ll be using, then cover the top hole with a piece of glass, Plexiglas, or you can rig clear plastic over the top if you have nothing else to use. Glass and/or Plexiglas is ever so much easier on you the gardener, than using the plastic cover is, because the bed must be watered weekly unless rainfall measures 1-inch. You never want the soil to dry out, and potatoes (sweet and Irish) need a lot of water to return you a bumper crop.

Irish potatoes need only 4-inches of top growth. When your tater vines/plants reach 6-inches tall, it’s time to add a 2-inch layer of mulch, and snug it up around the potato plant stems. When it’s time, add another tire on top of the first one. And just keep adding mulch, water, and tires until the stack grows 5-6 tires tall. You may need to drive a wooden stay on 2 or 3 sides of the tires so they won’t blow over when storms come, or when you brush against them, or dogs hit them while chasing a ball, or once night temps no longer offer a chance of frost, you can omit the glass top: if you have predators who might eat the tater vine, you can use an old window screen instead of the glass top. And when the temps get around or above 80 degrees, put a layer of newspaper around the upper edge of the top most tire: this will to deflect heat away from the tire and preserves inner moisture as well.

The first blooms that form, I pinch off. This pours more growth to the roots which is what you’ll harvest anyhow. The 2nd set of blooms, I allow to form and soon after the vines will begin to dry and become mulch. You can “dig” your taters by removing one tire at a time.

If you’ll prepare another tire spot before unloading your tater tire, as soon as you remove one tire, you can roll it over on top of the cardboard spot you’ve just made beside your tater tire, and by the time your potatoes are all lying out on the ground, you’ll have another tater tower built ready to plant into again to make another crop of late fall taters to harvest just before a hard freeze hits your area…depending, of course, on just what area that is.

Keep It Growing! 

  • Like 2

1 Comment

Recommended Comments

I'm going to do this with 1 or 2 x 6 this year. Had to do a lot of diging to find em last year. Check out my club for more pictures!


Edited by ProtectorCdn
  • Like 1

Share this comment

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recent Status Updates

  • Hello Guest, we are ThriveThrough

  • Similar Content

    • By MrHandyBot
      Guidelines for Spacing Vegetable Plants in the Garden for Highest Production
    • By DanCarpenter
      Begin planning your self-sufficient homestead. Critical food, water, and energy production should be at the heart of your homestead. Find out what criteria you should look for and begin your search!
    • By Josiah Wallingford
      Nicholas Burtner of Working With Nature and Josiah Wallingford of Brink of Freedom interview Allan Savory of the Savory Institute.
      First posted on Brink of Freedom.        
    • By Josiah Wallingford
      Laundry Soap
      I’ve used this recipe for several years. It works well, is easy to make, and is very inexpensive.
      1 Bar soap – use any bar soap you prefer of whatever is on sale 1 cup Borax (laundry aisle) 1 cup Washing soda  (Can’t find washing soda? See below how to make it yourself) 10 drops Essential oil (optional) Grate the bar of soap or grind to a fine powder in a food processor. Mix all other ingredients in and thoroughly mix. Use about ¼ cup per load of laundry.
      ** How to make washing soda: Place 2-3 cups of baking soda in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 1-2 hours.  The baking soda will go from shiny and powder to grainy and dull – that’s when it’s changed to washing soda.
      Fabric Softener

      2 cups Hair conditioner (I just buy whatever is on sale at the time that I think smells good) 3 cups Vinegar 6 cups Water Pour the conditioner, vinegar, and water into a bowl.  I use a whisk to gently stir until the conditioner is dissolved completely.  Pour into a container with a lid. Don’t shake the container before using as it will foam up.
      Use ¼ cup in the rinse cycle of the wash. You can also soak a rag in the fabric softener and toss in the dryer with your clothes.
      Dusting Spray

      2 cups Water ¼ cup Lemon juice 2 teaspoons olive oil 10 drops essential oil (optional) (lemon/orange/citrus work best) Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.
      Laminate Floor Cleaner – one of my favorites!

      1 cup Water 1 cup Rubbing alcohol 2-3 drops dish soap or castile soap 10-15 drops essential oil (I use lavender) Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. Then spray the floor and use a Swiffer type cleaner to mop it up. Leaves the floor shiny and clean. Some people use 1 cup of vinegar in this. I don’t care for the smell, though.
      *Instead of buying refills for the Swiffer, just use an old dish cloth. Stick it in the holes in the Swiffer and throw it in the wash when you’re done.