Country Living Series

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Planting potatoes and wrapping raspberries

The only thing I've had a chance to plant so far in our incipient tire garden is potatoes (mostly because I've been too busy getting ready for the Self-Reliance Expo in Colorado to get any other tires ready).

Planting potatoes in tire stacks is an old and established technique, so I anticipate a decent crop of potatoes this year.

First thing to do with seed potatoes is cut them into pieces, with at least one eye per piece. I had a fair amount of seed potatoes so I just cut them in half, though I could have cut them into smaller pieces. The potatoes should sit for about a day to "harden" the skin of the fresh cut, or they're more likely to rot when planted.

Meanwhile I laid out eleven of the bigger tires. We didn't cut off the sidewalls on these, because sidewalls make it possible to stack them.

Underneath every tire, I put a  thick layer of newspapers (to cut weeds) anchored by hardware cloth mesh (to discourage voles).

After this, it was time to fill the tires. I used a combination of topsoil and composted manure. Trundle trundle trundle.

But slowly I got each tire filled...

...though I didn't get done until just before sunset.

The next day, with the potatoes hardened off, it was time to plant.  A much easier process!

I laid out four pieces per tire...

...then buried them deep with a trowel.

A good watering...

...and that's it for the time being for potatoes.  It will take awhile for them to grow enough to stack another tire on top and fill with straw.

Meanwhile I noticed some nips on my raspberry plants. Sheesh, deer damage already. These guys don't waste any time. Needing to get the plants protected, Don made some shafts...

...which he screwed firmly into the frame of the raised bed.

Then he strung baling twine along the top to help support the bird netting.

Meanwhile I took some hastily re-rolled netting from last year's (failed) garden...

...and trimmed off the jagged ends.

I literally wrapped up the raspberries in a six-foot-high envelope of netting, leaving one side with a generous overlapping for a "door."

I've become a huge fan of bird netting as a safeguard against deer.  Not gonna lose my plants this year!


  1. Bird netting is one of the wonders of the modern world. We use it to protect the chickens from the hawks. We have a fairly large pen enclosed with 1" mesh wire 6' tall and the top is covered with the bird netting. We have a lot of red tailed hawks here and had lost several chickens to them. No losses since the netting was installed!

  2. If you have Don cut off the top of the tire as normal, and you have two of the same sized tires, he should be able to cut the tire on the bottom, from the inside to the tread, approximately 6" apart. Then with a couple of extra hands, you should be able to put that tire on top of the first tire and extend those cut tabs over the outside of the first one. Sould give a bit more planting space.

  3. Patrice,

    Your potato tire garden looks great. I can imagine you'll have a large amount of potatoes to harvest at the end of the season. Yes, I agree I have become a huge fan of bird netting. It seems to help keep several critters out of my garden.
    Have a great time at the Expo, wish I was there too.

  4. I'm surprised you don't have a freezer full of venison.

  5. I have raised spuds this way for a while. I recognize straw is much easier to use when the plants get bigger, but I have had no luck with straw used to hill up the spuds. It IS useful as a mulch later. So I suggest you try both ways...some with straw to satisfy your curiosity and soil/compost for others for a likely bigger crop.

    Enjoy your garden. Every morning I am still out there grazing on the peas. Sigh! Soon they'll be gone.


  6. You might look at what the folks are doing for deer: Several good ideas there. I'm with Stephen, though; I'd have a full freezer.

  7. i like your "cages" to keep the deer and other v armints out of your raspberries...think i may approach this idea for my raised vegetable beds too.

  8. My oldest sister lives near Cheney, WA, on 19 acres. She has several gardens, including potatoes and tomatoes. She told me she planted them in tires a few years ago and had a terrible time with slug damage! Is there anything you could suggest to her about slugs? Will the newspapers and hardware cloth mesh keep them out of her tomatoes and potatoes? Thanks for anything you or your readers might suggest.
    --Fred in AZ

    1. Pour beer in the garden it'll keep the slugs away

  9. There is an organic bait for slugs called Sluggo. It managed to save my lettuce this year and am using it for pill bugs near my cucumbers. The pill bugs will suck all the moisture out of the cucumbers that touch the ground.

  10. Hi all: Can you elaborate on the tire gardens? How does it work with the potatoes? I know this sounds silly, but I have ever seen it before. Please educate me.
    Thank You

    1. The concept behind tire gardens (and potatoes are the most common thing to plant) is that tires, besides being free, are black and therefore warm up the soil sooner in the season. That's quite a consideration for northern climates like ours. They also create "raised bed" conditions which offer better drainage.

      Potatoes grow well in stacked tires because you can get a terrific harvest in a small space, since they'll grow upwards. The idea is this: plant potatoes in a tire. When the green leaves/stem is about eight or ten inches high, stack another tire on top and fill with dirt or straw, just leaving the top portion of the potato plant sticking up. The plant will think it's growing underground and will fill the second tire with potatoes, meanwhile still growing upwards. When the plant has eight or ten inches of growth above the level of the second tire, stack a third tire on top and repeat. Repeat with a fourth tire, which is about all most people can do before the season ends. When it's time to harvest the potatoes, just unstack them one at a time and pull out the fully-grown potatoes.

      The nice thing about tire stacks for potatoes is it can be done in any suburban backyard. I've heard the average harvest is about 25 pounds of potatoes per stack.

      Hope this helps!

      - Patrice

    2. i have found that deer hate egg whites. Mix with water & spray. Much cheaper

    3. Is there anything out there simple like this for squirrels?
      Mary Ann

  11. Hi there! I've read a lot on tire stacks for potatoes as I was planning to make one this summer until I bumped on a guy's comment about them; He works in a tire factory and said that the first thing that they being told is NOT to used them to grow veggies as the tire slowly releases toxins into the soil and eventually in the potatoes. I'm glad I found the info before I started one for my little family and I vowed to take the time to tell people whenever I see an article about growing potatoes in tires. Maybe it's possible to put a liner somehow so the soil wouldn't touch the tire directly or I found on Pinterest plenty of replacement ideas....Anyways thanks for the article ....cheers ! Josee :-)

    1. Josee, take a look at this link:

      - Patrice