Three Uses for OldTires, Calcium for Tomatoes and More

Readers tips for repurposing old tires, soothing the burn of hot peppers, keeping stains off fiberglass and more.

| February/March 1995

  • 148-010-01
    250,000,000 used tires are added to disposal sites like this one each year.

  • 148-010-01

Three Uses for Old Tires

Gophers: After watching both young and mature plants disappear overnight from my vegetable garden, gobbled from the bottom up by gophers, the following year I decided to foil those critters by planting in raised beds out of their reach. Since I didn't have the ability or funds to build those beds, I used tires instead, stacked two high. I learned that you have to pack them clear to the rims inside with soil to keep other critters out, like wasps. I also found that the heat provided by the tires boosted my warm weather crops here in the mountains where the summers can be cool and short. To be on the safe side, I inserted a tall garden pot in one of the tires to provide additional protection for the parsley with its long, tempting taproot. Voila! No more plants lost to gophers.

Compost: Burying my kitchen garbage in the compost had two disadvantages: 1) the wild animals dug it up and ate it, and 2) in the winter, the heap was frozen and I couldn't bury the garbage. Now I use a two-bin system, which is simply two stacks of tires, three tires each.

The garbage is dumped into one stack and I cover it with a shovelful or two of dirt (mixed with sand and ashes in the winter). I chop the garbage and dirt with the end of the shovel. When one stack is full, I start on the other one. By the time that one is full, the other is composted. If you have more garbage than I do, then you'll need more stacks. They work perfectly. The heat provided by the black rubber speeds up the composting process, and they are easily disassembled when it's time to empty them.

Deep Planting on Poor Ground: In some places where I wanted to plant shrubs, the ground was like concrete with practically no topsoil. I used both car and truck tires to provide raised beds for them. These contained beds also made it easier to keep the shrubs watered. In time the water and nutrients worked on the soil beneath the ground level so that the roots could expand. Well okay, despite their advantages, tires are not attractive, so I surrounded them with stones, piling them up until they covered all the rubber. The shrubs are happy and so am I.

—Joanna James
Mosier, Oregon

Keep Stains off Fiberglass

Hard water and soap stains on plastic or fiberglass tub surrounds can be avoided by applying boat wax to the surface when it is new. Car wax will also do the job, but I think fiberglass wax is better.

—Carl Bettrens
Lawrence, KS

3/28/2007 2:49:26 PM

Used Tires In a land use management class we learned that where they had stacked up used tires to provide shelter for amimals that all the vegitation began to die off around the tires after a few years. Apparently they leach into the ground as the sun deteriorates them. I would love to use them for a retainer wall but now I am not sure if its safe.

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