Thursday, August 17, 2017

A long-overdue project

Our startup orchard is doing splendidly.

When we first hit upon this wacky idea of planting fruit trees in tires, some expressed doubt it would succeed. After all, it's completely counter-intuitive not to plant trees directly in the ground. But we knew the challenges we faced in planting an orchard, and we also knew it was necessary to look outside the box to achieve success in something we had failed at twice before.

This is the first year our young orchard is producing fruit, and it's producing in abundance.

However we had one remnant from last year we needed to correct: the trees were still staked with baling twine.

In our region of high prairie winds -- 70 mph isn't unknown -- staking young trees is clearly necessary. However the baling twine was meant to be a temporary solution that turned long-term.

You can see the scars left from the twine. It hasn't irrevocably damaged the trees, but it's not helping either.

Time to fix this.

Fortunately we have an abundance of the perfect tree ties: rubber. Sometimes our garden tractor tires are delivered with these huge honkin' rubber inner tubes still inside. This rubber is wonderful and has many uses, so we keep the inner tubes whenever we come across them.

So a couple days ago, I hauled over a chunk of inner tube...

..and started cutting it into strips.

We have 14 trees in our orchard (4 peach, 4 apple, 2 plum, 4 hazelnut), and I wanted three ties per tree, so that was 42 strips.

Then I cut the strips into "bone" shapes: bulbed at each end, slender in the middle.

I used the grommet punch to punch holes at each end.

The rubber is thick yet soft. It doesn't get brittle in either extreme cold or extreme sun. Good stuff.

Then it was simply a matter of removing the old twine, and looping each rubber tie around the trunk. The ties are held with baling twine, which is anchored by screws in the tire, three to a tire.

The supporting strings are by no means tight. The goal isn't to support the trees; the goal is to keep them from getting tipped over in high winds.

The rubber is flexible enough to "give" in windy conditions, protecting the tree while allowing the root system to strengthen and stabilize the tree. We'll be able to remove the ties in a few years, when the trees are well established.

This was a long-overdue project, and I'm glad to finally get it done.


  1. For those that do not have access to the inner tubes you are using, a 4 to 6 inch long piece of an old hose works great also. Just wrap hose piece around tree trunk and run wire or rope through the hose. My dad always did this and now I do too.

  2. I've seen strips of tire tread used for the same purpose; preferably bicycle tire tread, as it will decay over time, and not restrict the growth of the tree.

  3. Awesome reuse of the inner tube! Genius!

  4. What happens when the tree matures , and the roots can't spread past the diameter of the tire?Won't that damage the roots?

    1. We cut both the top and bottom sidewalls off the tires before filling them with dirt and planting. The roots can extend downward into the ground. See this blog post for more details:

      - Patrice

  5. I know you're a writer (creative mind!) but I think 5+5+2+4=16, not 14.
    Just being silly and poking fun! Love the blog ❤️
    I desperately need a cow update!!!!

    1. Oops, my bad! We only have four each of apples and peach. Thanks for the correction!

      - Patrice