If you are short on space, old car tyres are ideal for growing vegetables in.
They are also very useful if you have a bad back, as several stacked on top of each other and filled with soil and compost make an ideal vertical vegetable bed. They are durable and can be freely picked up in garages and old yards everywhere. You’ll be doing your bit for pollution too, as its their durability that makes them such an environmental headache. In terms of any nasty components leaching into your soil apparently they are not as bad as treated timber as any minute traces of heavy metals in the rubber are so tightly bound together that leaching is unlikely.
You can get your plants off to an earlier start by planting in tyres as soil in raised beds warms up faster. The black rubber absorbs heat providing even more warmth and insulation. In areas of heavy wet soil using tyres is an excellent way to start growing plants earlier in spring if your ground is still soggy and compacted from rain. You can harvest plants later into the autumn too. Tyres can also be used as compost bins. Two sets of four or five stacked on top of each other is a good way to go.
Tyres are brilliant for making a vertical potato patch. Dig the ground a little first to help with drainage then place one tyre on the gound and fill with good compost. Plant seed potatoes into the tyre centre and cover with soil. When the plants are about eight inches high, add soil around the plants until only a couple of inches are showing at the top. Repeat this process for the third, fourth and fifth tyre. The stalk will set off roots as well as growing vertically searching for sunlight. The large tap root will produce many lateral roots each producing additional spuds at several levels instead of only one if seeds are planted into the ground, all assisted by the extra heat. You can create as many potato towers as you like, producing enough to feed your family for the winter.
My children gave me Kim Wilde’s book ‘Gardening with Kids’ many years ago for Mother’s day. It has some very simple and clever ideas for ways of involving your little ones in the garden. We installed sets of tyres for everyone, just two tires stacked on top of each other spray painted with each child’s favourite colour. They are in situ for about seven years now and even though the kids are getting bigger they still have huge pride in their tyres. They take care of their plants, flowers and produce, and every visitor is led over to them before anything else can be admired in the garden!