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Growing Vegetables in Old Car Tires

Updated on January 4, 2012

For those in colder climates, or simply in possession of an excess of wheels, planting vegetables in old car tires can be an easy and economical way to extend your plants' lifespan. The rubber that makes up tires is notoriously long-lasting and difficult to dispose of, so not only will your gardening improve, you'll also be helping the environment!

The greatest benefit of using rubber tires is that they are fantastic insulators. The walls hold in heat and can prevent frost damage to vulnerable root systems. They are also easy to maintain and tend to, making them perfect for those with limited space or time. The chemicals used in the tires generally do not seep into the soil, making them safe for both the plants and later vegetable consumption. However, if you're concerned about these chemicals, a plastic bag stretched over the rubber will shield your soil.

How to Make a Tire Garden Bed

Tires are a perfect shape for garden beds, although they can be made more efficient with a few simple modifications. Once the tire is where you'd like it, cut off the top sidewall (the bit that curls over and obscures some interior space.) This effectively doubles your growing area. From there, fill the tire with compost and soil, and you're ready to start planting! Simple, eh? Growing in tires will require careful watering, as they dry out more quickly than regular beds, but are otherwise easy to maintain.

There are plenty of ways to get creative with tires. A sequence of increasingly smaller, stacked tires can make for a wonderful strawberry patch. The most efficient way to grow potatoes is through progressively stacking tires and soil around growing plants, thus elongating the root system and yielding an impressive amount of potatoes per square foot of garden. Tires are also an effective barrier to smaller herbivores like rabbits, and the smell of rubber may deter larger animals such as deer.

Old tractor tires are great for large beds, and can usually be found through an ad on Craigslist or at your local scrapyard. Due to their plentiful numbers, cheapness, and ease of establishment, tires are a great alternative to more traditional raised beds.

Best Plants for Tire Beds

How to Grow Them
Layers of progressively smaller tires, strawberries allowed to spill over the sides
Add stacked tires and dirt as plants grow
Blackberries and Raspberries
Seperate tires for easy maintanence and control
Planted in tires instead of the traditional mounds, will spill over
Other Veggies
Grown as usual


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    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 5 years ago from USA

      Great idea! I didn't think about the insulating effects. And like you say, we can help the environment. Voted up and useful!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Thanks! I intend to use some this Spring to expand my own garden. We have very rocky soil on this hilltop, so sometimes a raised bed is the only way to go.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      This really is a great idea. Plus, I like the rustic look it gives to a plain looking garden.

    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 5 years ago

      Holy WOW! This is an awesome idea. I love it! Thank you!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      MarleneB- It's amazing what you can do with old, hard-to-dispose of items. I've seen some great stuff done with old toilets and bath tubs, as well, and sinks are great for flowering vines or birdbaths.

      Alipuckett- I hope I gave you some neat ideas for your own garden. :)

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Really well written hub, and this is a great idea! Especially for potatoes - heck, you can grow them in trashbags. Do you know whether or not something from the tires might "leech" into the soil? It seems unlikely to me, but I was just wondering... Voted up and useful!

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