Sunday, February 15, 2009

just rambling on in the garden...

No pics today... I spent most of today in the garden doing more or less un-photogenic things... started my potato tires... it's a technique I've heard about before, but never got the gumption to try...

You get an old tire. Set it on window screening or landscape cloth, then fill it at least halfway with topsoil. Cut up one seed potato into 3 or 4 sets... then plant it in the tire.

As the potato grows, you keep raising the soil level around the plants by adding straw, lawn and shrub trimmings, etc...(Don't cover the growing tip! But the plant will send out new roots, which grow potatoes all along where it's covered) When the first tire is full... add another tire to the top and keep going... up to three tires total... When the potatoes are ready to harvest, the tires will be full of the potatoes, and all your straw and leaves and such will be compost. If you're using good rich stuff in there, up to a bushel in each mound... I've set two mounds, although the guy at the nursery wasn't happy with me buying 2 seed potatoes, he'll get over it... I'm going to see how it works out. I'll keep you posted...

I also have set out two bales... that's bales of hay. I wanted bales of straw, they're cheeper, but I ended up with hay for free so I'm not complaining. What you do with them is set them on the ground in the yard, with the baling wire going parallel to the ground... that way the cut end of the straw is poking up... then you put some sort of high nitrogen fertilizer on there. Most of the web people say ammonium nitrate... the problem with that is that that's the stuff that they make car bombs out of, so a lot of places won't sell it to someone who isn't a farmer... You can also use any lawn fertilizer, or if you're like me, and know people who have horses, you can put some composted horse manure on top... water it real good, and in a couple of weeks, it will have started composting good and you can plant things in it. You just stick a big knife or spade or something into the top of the bale, and wedge a tomato plant in it...

The advantages are 1) the cutworms and ground dwelling pests can't get up to your plant. 2) The straw really holds water well, and in this part of the country that's a big advantage and 3) you're basically growing in pure compost, and after what you're growing is done, you can till it in to the yard.

I've heard of it for the last few years, but I wasn't sure about it... then a friend of mines 80 year old father told me he remembered his father doing it when he was younger, and "that blasted mater got 7 foot tall, and we were eating canned maters all blasted winter..."

Well, with a hyperbolic recomendation like that, how could I not?

Now, they say on the web that you just sit the thing in the yard, and that's what I did, and that contact with the soil not only helps the composting process, but that the roots of your plant will go right through the bale into the dirt. But, with a little extra water, you can put the bales on concrete, if you are unfortunate enough not to have actual dirt around you.

Another friend of mine is looking into this for another reason... The only section of the yard that she can feasably put a garden in is low, and the clay soil gathers and holds water, making roots rot in the ground. She's thinking that 1 or maybe two years of about 20 bales, and she'll be able to raise some veggies, raise the soil level and get some badly needed organics into that clay... I told her it was worth a shot and it couldn't hurt... we're not talking about an area that raising the soil will interfere with some other drainage...

Anyway, that's been my day.



  1. I have read about this type of planting and would be interested in hearing your results as the plant grows.

  2. Very informative! Hope your maters grow to be 7 foot tall, too, and yield tons of maters! Good luck.

    Shailaja, India

  3. You have potato tire gardens! YEAH! How cool is that??? Do let us know how both of these planting techniques us lots of photos over the growing time...oh this will be fun!!!

  4. I don't even have room for a tire! I will be enjoying yours!!!Very interesting!!