Our Tire Garden

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything about our awesome-sauce tire garden setup that we’ve got going new this year. What the hell, ME?! So, yeah… BEHOLD, in all its raised-bed glory! <insert dramatic reveal music>

Tire Garden

We have a two-tiered jungle of potatoes (the first two rows of six tires); some table onions and scallions; two tomato plants (oh, man, I am so excited for fresh tomatoes); and there at the end, in the last two sad, empty-looking tires, there are actually a few carrots fighting valiantly to grow and become delicious.

tiny carrots


When planning this garden over the winter, I heard this a lot: “This is Iowa. Put something in the ground and it will grow.” And yet, not so is the case where we live. Surrounded on both sides by fields of rich farm land, our property is a former tract of railway line; built up artificially with lots of rocks, gravel, sand, and filler dirt. It is actually one of the more minor complaints you could have about a great place to live out in the country. We’ve got plenty of trees and other-such brush (and weeds), and we’ve got some nice prairie grass goin’ on, and even some flowers (and did I mention weeds?) — but I certainly wouldn’t run a tiller through any of it. Best keep your money in your pocket on that one.

The solution?
Raised beds, of course!

The even cheaper, easier solution?
Old tires! They’re FREE, modular, and virtually indestructible!

Though there is plenty of work involved in starting an old-tires-raised-bed garden, as there is work involved in any kind of gardening. We had to locate a “source” for about a dozen used tires (thanks craigslist), pick them up, haul them back, hose them out, and cut out one or both walls from each tire with a reciprocating saw (thanks to my FIL for that). Then we got two pickup-loads of compost from the local landfill (for “dirt”-cheap! HA!), and viola! Garden on the rocks!

And remember those weeds I mentioned earlier? NOT a problem in this garden. I’ve pulled out a few errant stalks of prairie grass, but haven’t had to do any “major” weeding whatsoever. I was quite surprised; I had planned on spending a lot more time “tending” to the garden, but starting from scratch with the compost-dirt from the landfill virtually eliminated any weed problems. Total score!

That aside, we chose an apparently pesky year to start a vegetable garden. It’s been an unseasonably comfortable spring and summer, which in Iowa means surprisingly low humidity, and unfortunately leads to little rain and borderline-drought conditions. It’s actually kinda crazy — here it is June 24, and its so NOT humid that it’s approaching 80°F this morning and I’ve got the house windows open, and with the breeze it’s actually quite nice. And yet, bizarre…

We’ve been trying to keep the garden watered, but without over-watering, which for us first-time gardeners is a delicate balance that we are yet unfamiliar with. Needless to say, we’ve had both our sets of parents coming out here to “check up” on the garden occasionally over the last few months, and to answer my seemingly endless supply of questions (thank god for that).


One thought on “Our Tire Garden

  1. [...] harvest from our tire garden is: Green Onions! They smell so good… of course, I have no idea what to do with them. Other [...]

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