It isn’t as if most people have old tractor tires just lying around collecting dust. Nevertheless, a good old tire that’s no good for driving on anymore doesn’t have to go to the trash pile. And when it comes to raised beds, there’s hardly a thing better than a burly tractor tire. By making a few minor alterations, removing the upper rim and painting the outside, that old hunk of rubber can have a second life—maybe even one that is nobler than the first.
To the gardener, it would be an insult to explain the benefits of raised beds. Just the same, they would be remiss to overlook the cost of materials to build raised beds. Purchasing good wood for frames is expensive, but it can’t be cut out, that will only lead to board rot and an open invitation to soil pests. Intro the tractor tire. He had a hard life on the wheels of his green driving machine and is excited to a retirement of laying about doing a whole lot of nothing.
Instead of making a costly purchase like railroad ties or treated wood, anyone who is interested can meander down to a local auto shop, poke their nose in and inquire about used tires that are destined for the dump. Most mechanics are happy to unload useless tires since it saves them a trip to the dump and any of the associated paperwork that accompanies rubber waste. What that means for the gardener is that he or she can acquire a perfectly good raised bed for free.
Then, once the tire has been introduced to its new home, it is just moments away from becoming a part of the thriving garden. The trickiest part of the tire to raised bed metamorphosis is cutting away that husky upper lip. Often the rubber will be about three-quarters of an inch thick along the outer rim. That’s a job no scissors could address, but a handsaw would gladly step in. After the rim is cut, the tire is nearly ready.
Because the color black is such a great heat conductor, the tire will need to be painted a lighter shade: white or yellow will reduce the amount of heat absorption keeping plant roots from burning and water from increased evaporation. After a coat of spray paint the tire will be ready to fill and plant.
While one tire won’t be able to accommodate a large crop, it will open up a few advantages that traditional raised beds are not good for. One tire could be unobtrusively placed at each directional plane of any house, meaning that varying degrees of light would shine on each one throughout the day. Since plants have so many different needs for direct sunlight, this is a great way to open up more possibilities for the plants that can be grown. By freeing the tractor tire from the doom of a landfill, any garden can thrive and become more versatile.
About the Author
Jody Sperling is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club.