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Old Tractor Tires Work Great for Gardening
Jim Thomas, New Bethelehem, Penn., has developed a unique method of organic gardening over the last five years. He uses no sprays or chemical fertilizers and needs no expensive equipment. In fact, his only tools are a knife, a wheelbarrow, and a shovel. Last year he cleared over $4,000 marketing crops harvested from a small 45 by 30-ft. plot.
Key to his success is that he uses old tractor tires as raised garden beds, cutting off the top sidewall and filling them with dirt and organic material. They're surprisingly attractive, according to Thomas. "The tires work better than traditional wood-sided beds since they expand with the frost and return without shifting. They also work as an insulator against unexpected late frosts."
Thomas cuts the sidewalls out with a sharp knife. "It's easiest on a hot day when the rubber is more pliable. I use a metal wedge to separate the rubber edges as I cut and apply a generous coating of used motor oil to the cutting surface."
He fills each tire with alternating layers of dirt and compost. The rich, loose organic soil produces amazing amounts of crops for the space. Four potato plants per tire will yield up to 100 lbs. of potatoes and one tomato plant will yield a bushel of crop. One tractor tire, planted with onions in circular rows 2 in. apart, produced a net profit of $50.
Car and truck tires can be used as smaller plant beds for limited plantings as well as to make use of wasted space between tractor tires. Heavy-duty wire cages (he used concrete reinforcing wire) support bush crops such as peas. He covers the top of each plant bed with a layer of mulch to prevent weed growth and to conserve moisture.
Thomas says the main ingredient in the success of his tire garden is in the organic soil he fills the tires with. "It yields the best food humanly possible in a limited space with little expense and upkeep. It speeds up and concentrates mother nature," he says.
Contact FARM SHOW Followup,James Thomas, Rt. 3, Box 134, New Bethlehem, Penn. 16242 (ph 814 764-3790).

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #3