According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, as of 2003, Americans produce 290 million scrap tires a year, with approximately 80 percent being recycled. Using them for containers for growing garden vegetables gives plants a boost, as tires absorb heat during the day and keep soil warm at night. Not only are you producing fresh fruits and vegetables for the family, you are reducing wastes in landfills, as well.
Select a location for the planter that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Tire planters rest on the soil and do not have bottoms. Select an area where water can drain freely into the soil.
Lay the tire flat against the soil. Cut away the sidewall with utility knife to increase the planting area. This creates a round rubber planter that is completely open on the top.
Fill the center of the tire planter with potting mixture. Mix equal parts potting soil (or garden loam) with peat moss and perlite to create a lightweight mixture that drains well.
Add 1/2 cup 5-10-10 fertilizer and mix it in well with the soil mixture. Use compost or well-rotted manure for organic fertilizer, if preferred.
Plant seeds in the soil to the recommended depth and spacing to the specific plant. Container-grown plants do not require space between rows and can be planted to the recommended spacing in all directions. Crops like beans or peas can be spaced two to four inches apart over the entire planting area.
Water to moisten the soil and keep moist until seeds germinate and are two to four inches high. Reduce water to once a week or whenever the soil dries.
Tomatoes and Peppers
Lay the tire down on the soil in a prepared garden bed.
Dig a hole inside the tire large enough to accommodate the root ball of tomato or pepper seedlings.
Plant the seedling to the original planting depth and firm the soil around the roots. Firm the soil down with your hands to secure the plant.
Water thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level. Keep moist until seedlings show signs of vigorous new growth. Reduce water to once a week. Water deeply and allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again.
Place two to four four-foot garden stakes into the soil resting against the inside rim of the tire to prevent slipping or moving. Add additional tires as the plant grows taller. Two to four tires---depending on the size of the plants---provides a protective tower and provides support for large plants. Allow fruit to develop outside the tire.
About this Author
Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.