Potatoes need depth as the edible tubers grow under the soil on long stems. The longer the stem the more potatoes you can harvest. Growing in tyres is ideal as you can keep heaping tyres over the growing potatoes
What you need
3 old car tyres
soil or well-rotted compost
2-3 certified seed potatoes
If you live in an area where you get frosts, you can plant any time between the last frost and mid summer. In other places you can plant any time between early winter and mid-spring. In very warm areas, you can plant late summer for a winter harvest.
What you do
- Place one tyre in a suitable sunny place in your garden or patio (If you’re planning to grow potatoes on a patio, you might want to put down some old carpet, a piece of weedmat or strong polythene to protect the surface, especially if it’s wooden).
- Fill the tyre with soil or compost, making sure the rims of the tyres are filled, and water well. Don’t let it get soggy.
- Press the potatoes into the compost so they are completely covered.
- When the potato shoots are about 20 cms tall, add more compost/soil to cover the stems and lower leaves, leaving the new shoots showing.
- When the first tyre is filled, add another tyre on top and repeat with the soil or compost. You can add another tyre and you can do this for about 2 months. Then leave the potatoes to mature under the soil.
- If potatoes pop above the surface, cover them well. When potato skins are exposed to light the skins may turn green and could be toxic when eaten.
Harvesting your potatoes
- You can start `bandicooting’ for potatoes when the leaves start yellowing.
- Carefully burrow into the lower soil (bottom tyre) to find potatoes at least the size of a hen’s egg. Wash and eat immediately, with skins on.
- Then the leaves die and the stems start to wither, its time to harvest your potatoes.
- Cut stems just above the top soil level and leave for two weeks so the skins will harden.
- Sift your hands down into the soil (a spade or fork may damage your crop).
- Spread tubers on the ground to dry for a few hours, then store.
You can see the process of filling tyres at Youth in Action 2009. The sound isn’t flash but the visual is good.
‘Certified’ seed potatoes are disease free and will give a bigger crop.