Three Uses for OldTires, Calcium for Tomatoes and More

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PHOTO: JERRY HOWARD/POSITIVE IMAGES
250,000,000 used tires are added to disposal sites like this one each year.

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

Cool Pepper Burn with Apple Cider

No one is a stranger to the burning, teary-eyed perils of
working with hot peppers, but here’s a first line of
defense for your hands. Before cutting into the peppers,
wash your hands, dry thoroughly, and pour a small amount of
apple cider vinegar into them. Rub hands together until
they are wet and then let them air dry. Peppers will be
powerless to burn your hands after that. But you still have
to keep them away from your eyes!

–Betty Redden
Taylors, SC

Calcium: It Does A Tomato Good

My garden is an eight-by-four oval space. I have set out
four early-girl tomato plants and four super-fantastic
tomato plants and three cucumber plants. It has always been
my goal to have tomatoes by the fourth of July and this
year was no exception. Maturity of early-girls is 52-54
days; super-fantastic, 70 days. When I cleaned the garden
out last year, I added calcium. It is very important that
the tomatoes have sufficient calcium: without it, they will
develop blossom end rot. To plant tomatoes, dig a hole
approximately 10 to 12 inches deep and wrap the roots of
the plants in brown paper (from paper bags). Then put some
nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the hole before you insert the
plant. I group my tomatoes together, so they can pollinate
each other, and use a common lattice inserted in the ground
to keep the tomatoes up. Also, plant marigolds around the
perimeter–this will discourage pests that would like
to eat your plants. When the tomatoes start to set, spray
them with a liquid fertilizer. If it doesn’t rain, water
them every two or three days to at least one inch deep.
Spray the liquid fertilizer at least two or three times. I
have several pieces of chickenwire that I move around to
keep the birds from eating the tomatoes–the cucumbers
will take care of themselves.

P.S. I have given away tomatoes, made tomato juice, and I
am going to sun-dry some and still there are
tomatoes EVERYWHERE.

–Chloe Chitwood
Knoxville, TN

Two Bright Ideas

During the winter and early spring, as I plan my garden and
other projects for the upcoming summer, I also draw up a
list of the tools and materials I will need. When I happen
across a missing or broken item (an invariable occurrence
all winter long), I jot it down. When warm weather arrives,
my garage sale “shopping list” is ready. Last year I found
almost everything on the list, including a crowbar and
pitchfork, and never once was caught in the middle of the
garden without that crucial tool.

After groping in the dark for matches during a recent
electrical outage, I was determined never to be caught in
that predicament again. Now, I tape a book of matches under
the hollow base of every kerosene lamp in the house.

–Ruth F. Jacobs
Gallipolis, OH