That time of year comes around and April showers begin to dampen the soil. All the gardeners have talked and guessed on a week that they think the last frost has come and gone, allowing them to plant their potatoes. The old, more common method is to dig a trench in the ground, plant part of a potato with roots in it (or a whole potato with roots), and cover it up. Then, water and compost the bed, gradually raising it up around the base of the plant as it grows. This process takes around 70 days before the potatoes are ripe and ready to harvest.
There is a more convenient way of growing potatoes, though, that is less time consuming, environmentally friendly, and causes less strain on the body of having to bend over. Growing them out of old, used tires. Just mix some good soil and manure about 50/50 and lay a tire on the ground in your new garden. Place a few potato pieces in it (make sure they have been sitting in the dark, growing roots) and cover them with compost. As the plant starts to grow above the tire, stack another one on top of it and gently add some more compost, gradually raising up the bed. Soon, you will have a stack of tires filled with soil, compost, and if done correctly, a bunch of potatoes!
Once your potato plants have produced flowers they have started to die and fall off, it is time to harvest them. You may want harvest one of your stacked beds a little early just to see if they may be ripe sooner than expected. The time to harvest may vary depending on the area and climate. Some people like to eat small potatoes, too. Just take off the top tire and work your way down until potatoes will start to come falling out. You can also add more potato pieces with roots as the stack gets taller, or even cut holes in the tires for the plants to grow out of.
While some people use different mixtures of soil and compost, I have found manure to be essential in the soil where I live. I try to mix it at least half and half, and there are other mixtures as well as different organic food you can add to your compost to help potato plants to grow, such as fish carcasses. So, get out your old used tires and get ready to harvest buckets full of potatoes this Summer!
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