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Kerry Michaels

Using Old Tires for Container Gardening

By January 31, 2011

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At the risk of being overly cautious, I want to bring up an issue that people ask me about from time to time - the safety of using old tires for planters. Planting potatoes in tires is becoming increasingly popular, but it appears that there is a potential danger that the rubber from old tires, as it decomposes, will leak toxic compounds into your soil.

To read more about using tires for container gardening.


January 31, 2011 at 10:23 am
(1) David says:

This is true, the potatoes even have a rubber after taste, while they work well as a structure, the break down and off gassing that takes place is not worth the food contamination.

February 2, 2011 at 8:27 am
(2) Mörtel says:

Thats right, the potatoes are really bad.

February 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm
(3) Kimmie says:

For taste as well as health reasons, all root veggies should be grown in organic soil only, as they absorb all the nutrients — as well as the decomposing rubber or anything else (I shudder to think!!?) — in the soil. This is good to keep in mind at the grocery store as well! When shopping for potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic…. think organic!

February 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm
(4) Kathie Mathews says:

Planting in tires looks so tacky, even if it is in your back yard. Some people even paint them colors making them look worse.

April 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm
(5) Cathy says:

Planting in old tires may be tacky looking to some of you. . .just don’t look at them. Okay! For health reason I can not dig in the rock hard soil in the area I live in. So tire planters work great for me. To each his own.

July 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm
(6) sarah from pa says:

I would rather see tacky tire planters than to go see all the tires in a pile on back roads in the woods somewhere. Where people can’t get rid of them and to cheap to pay money to dispose of them. One persons eye soar can be another mans beauty. like the saying one mans trash is anothers treasure. I tOO SAY, TO EACH HIS OWN!!!!!

December 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm
(7) Shiree Macdonald says:

I have an abundant and overflowing tyre garden, if it is tacky tough! I can’t afford the premade and expensive raised planters (which are treated with chemicals too) so tyres work well. The strawberries are great so are all the other veges, potatoes I don’t grow in tyres more because the blight risk. What soil, manure and mulch you use in the tyres also affects the flavour of the veges. I use a lot of lime in mine to help balance out the soil and break down the chicken poo.

December 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm
(8) Kerry says:

Thanks for your comment, Shiree. I think all container gardening is great and applaud anyone who is doing it. I just wanted to warn people of the possible drawbacks of gardening in tires.

I would love to see pictures of your tire gardens. I bet they look great.

July 29, 2013 at 10:14 am
(9) Norm says:

This article is ridiculous. I have used tires for container gardening for years with no rubber after taste in the produce. But what is disturbing to me is the vague and undocumented comments from the author and quoted “expert” that are not academically sound that could discourage people from using an alternative that not only allows people to garden who couldn’t otherwise, but also provides a recycling advantage over dumping tires in some landfill. It is one thing to raise warning flags, it is another to raise warning flags based on undocumented hearsay and speculation.

I have no objection to the people who don’t like tires from an aesthetic position as containers for gardening. That is an honest, expressed opinion. If the article was presented as an “opinion, undocumented” I would not be as upset, but it is presented as a knowledge based fact. I object to that.

What needs to be done is to conduct some real research testing not only the soil in and below the tires in container gardens, but also doing chemical analysis of the plants grown in those containers compared to plants grown in soil outside of the containers in the same region but far enough away from the tires to avoid cross contamination over a period of several years in several locations (for example, weather conditions in Seattle, Houston, and Chicago vary greatly and may impact results). Then, you will have scientific research to back up conclusions you draw or publish.

Following the research, post an article based on fact. Don’t have time? Then propose the study to a horticultural student who needs a thesis to graduate and approach a tire company for some good will funding. (I am sure tire companies would be happy to be able to promote an alternative to beliefs that tires are poisoning the world). Y

Yes, I am that jerk that holds people accountable for their “statements”. Document, or don’t publish.

September 28, 2013 at 9:33 am
(10) Michelle says:

Norm, I don’t think you’re a jerk. I hope a student does pick your idea up :D Thank you for your comment xx

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