Monday, June 21, 2010

Potato tyre stacks

I'd heard a number of times that old tyres are really useful for growing potatoes in. It was hard rubbish day here recently (where you put out all your bulky stuff and it gets taken away). The rubbish got picked over and much of it reused / re-purposed by the locals, but all of the tyres got left behind, so I figured it was time to put this potato tyre theory to the test at my place.

The idea is really simple - you get a few old tyres and plant a seed potato or two in the bottom of the first tyre. (You can use a normal potato, but your chances of having diseases in them in the regrowth is higher).

Once the leaves start growing out of the top, you can add mulch / compost / soil / whatever you have around the plant right up to the very tip. Once the stem is immersed, the potato plant will grow roots out of the side of the stem of the plant. Off those roots will grow new potatoes (and of course, there are still potatoes growing off the roots in the first tyre).

Once the plant grows some more, you add another tyre, and organic matter (making sure the top of the plant is not buried), and you can keep on doing this until you run out of tyres.

When you're ready to harvest, you simply remove the tyres one at a time, empty the dirt on the ground and every tyre should be full of fresh potatoes. This is a no dig method requiring minimal effort, and for someone who used to trawl potato fields as a kid, this is a good thing as digging them by hand is back breaking work.

Old tyres are great for a number of reasons. Firstly they are a good insulator and heat sink, so they keep your spuds at a good temperature. Secondly they're free. Thirdly (hopefully) with all the hard wear of driving, worn tyres should have most of the toxins in them in an inert state, or perhaps gone altogether.

Our stack has been started with some potatoes from last season which were growing (not very well) in a cardboard box which have just sprung into action recently, so we'll see how they go. The tyre stack is stacked on newspaper, which is on top of concrete down the side of our garden shed. The lane is not otherwise useful, but is oriented North/South so gets nice winter sun.

We'll update with pictures and comments in the coming weeks, and through to harvest.


  1. This just in from the ACF & The Digger's Club. Why seed potatoes are important, and why you don't need tyres.

  2. Too much rain, tyres not draining properly, potatoes probably rotting. :(