Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Potato Green Thumb Sunday Update

Have you ever heard of growing potatoes in tires? You fill a tire full of garden soil and plant a few potatoes. After the plants get to be about two feet tall, you add another tire on top of the first one and fill more compost or soil around the potato plants up to the top of that tire. When the potato growth gets taller again, you add another tire and more dirt. I've seen people get up to five tires high! The potato plant amazingly makes more tubers along what was originally the above ground part of the plant.

Well, I don't have any extra tires to do this with and I think that would be a bit ugly anyway. However, the idea is a sound one so I am attempting to repeat the concept using boards to make my raised beds higher and higher.

I have Kennebec and Yukon Gold potatoes tightly spaced in the raised beds so I can do this. last year I tired this with some success, but the beds were too large. It takes a lot of extra soil to raise 20 square feet even one foot higher.

This year I planted them in beds 4 foot by 3 foot, and 4 foot by 2 foot, so I could more easily add more wood and soil to the beds. Unfortunately, that is STILL too big of an area.

By accident however, I discovered the perfect size bed for this technique - about 2 foot square.

My daughter planted only two seed potatoes in the corner of her garden bed. I then built up that portion of the bed with wood stakes and boards. As the potato plants keep getting taller, we will add another layer of boards and fill that in with more soil. By the time we are done, the "box" will be almost three feet tall.

What makes this even better than the tire idea is that we can take off some of the lower boards to harvest "new potatoes" any time we wish because the first tubers that are produced are at the bottom and as long as we keep making the box taller, the plant will keep producing!

Ironically, since I won't be capable of making my larger potato beds very high, my daughters 2x2 potato bed will out-produce my 4x3 beds. Next year we will make several small bed/boxes like hers. My daughter has really been teaching me about gardening this year without even trying. When it comes to these potatoes, good thing she has a green thumb!

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A great GTS post. We have a a (celebrity) gardener in Britain called Bob Flowerdew and he advocates using tyres for potatoes; he is a great inspiration for not only recycling but also organic gardening.


My own potato tyre planter. I got the idea from the afore mentioned Mr flowerdew


Wow Dan, I thought growing in tires would be ugly but yours looks great! Maybe I will look for some tires to use after all.

thanks for sharing that picture!


That's a great story & project. Give your daughter a GTS thumbs-up!


I have been doing sort of the same thing but with bags. The bags i have used are nylon woven mess ones . I started off by rolling them down putting some soil in and covering the potatoes, then everytime the shots popped oout i added more soil, it has worked a treat and should be harvesting them soon.


Marc, that's really interesting. That's actually a really good way to recycle old tires! I will admit, though, that your method is a mite bit more attractive...I'm looking forward to how it turns out!


I like the look of the wood so much better than tires. When I read your post I was reminded of a fad years ago where old tires were painted and the tops cut into curious shapes and then turned into flowerpots. Every now and then I see one ...

Gardening with children has to be one of the most satisfying experiences. It's incredible how much they remember even from times when they are still very young.


Yes, it is done here in England! Tyres keep potatoes nice and warm and if well watered can be earthed up to 8 feet or more! I grow potatoes each year in a big black rubbish bin / trash can / dumpster. You must use maincrop and not earlies.

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