Posts tagged ‘tire gardens’
The front page of Thursday’s New York Times Home section features a story titled “Slow, Easy, Cheap and Green.” It profiles Felder Rushing and what he calls “Slow Gardening.” It’s a gimmicky name that means going with the flow of the seasons, rather than rushing to transform your garden all at once.
Whatever. What I liked about the article was the photo of Mr. Slow Garden tending a bunch of lettuce planted in a pile of tires.
Slow? if that’s the trendy word to use…
Green? you betcha, but in case you didn’t get it, paint your tires green.
Oh, now I get it. Green tires. Guess I’m a slow gardener.
Found this illustration by Justin Gabbard in the New York Times letters-to-the-editor last month. It accompanies letters on “Playing Politics With the Auto Bailout.” See here for a better view. Plants in tires takes on a new resonance.
A bunch of people have asked if I will replant the Green Zone garden at Firehouse 13 in 2009. Unlikely. I intended for the garden to last for the season, so I could move on to research and presentations.
That said…I bet that Firehouse 13 will develop another garden this year. Jarrett, FH13’s director, grows veg in a West Side community garden, so he’s got green thumbs. And we know that the sun shines on Central Street.
I wonder if the firemen of the former Good Will Engine Company ever planted a garden. Firemen are amazing cooks. Are they also great gardeners?
Spinning around Providence, I have found tire and wheel gardens in unexpected places. The illustration on the left comes from The War Garden Victorious (1919): just another example of how Americans used every available space for War Gardens during World War I.
Rachel and Emily told me about the tire planters at the Bridgham St. Community Garden (corner of Westminster St.). Organized by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, this garden has several dozen plots and about a dozen tires full of sunflowers, squash, some kind of black berry that’s not a blackberry (?), and other flowers. This garden is adding plots incrementally each year, with the tires creeping south across the vacant lot. If you’re interested in signing up to garden next year, contact the WBNA.
Across town, on Cemetery Street (near the North Burial Ground), old bicycle wheels, with and without rubber tires, define the edges of the Farmacy garden. Farmacy Herbs is a non-profit organization that tends the garden; creates herbal medicines, teas, and other products; and offers classes. Founder Mary Blue used to work at Seven Arrows Herb Farm.
Not far off on the map, but in other ways a million miles away from the Farmacy, is the Spike’s on Branch Ave. When Spike isn’t eating hotdogs, he’s doing some tire gardening in the parking lot. A closer look shows reveals that tires are stacked on their sides as a planter for mums (or something?) and an upright tire holds a bunch of yellow pansies. Yo, Spike! Nice garden!
In designing Green Zone, I wanted to make sure that materials were cheap or free, that the garden was was easy to build and tend, and that it was portable.
All of the garden containers are reclaimed trash: 8 used tires, 8 shopping bags, and a pair of high-top sneakers. The soil mix consists of 1/3 compost (shout out to Earth Care Farm), 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss: light enough to drain, but meaty enough to provide some nourishment for the plants.
I experimented with the tires. Containers had to drain without losing plants or soil. I put layers of landscape fabric and 1/2″ plastic mesh at the bottom opening of the tire. I ringed the perimeter of the opening with plastic lawn edging, which allowed me to isolate a central planting bed without wasting soil that wouldn’t drain (try drilling a hole in a tire…not fun).
The plastic bags have a similar setup: a couple holes torn in the bottom of the bag and layers of landscape fabric and plastic mesh inside the bottom. Seven of the bags are standard grocery-store shopping bags (no double-bagging!), and I found one snazzy bag decorated with images of $20 bills. More on growing veg in shopping bags in a future post.
Why tires? First off, they’re easy to come by; mine came from an Earth Day cleanup and from my car (after a pothole ripped a hole in one tire). In fact, people keep offering me tires, leaving me tires, etc. I say, “Start your own tire garden!”
Tires are a traditional gardening container in the US and worldwide, especially in developing countries. Tire gardens can be found in rural, in suburban, and in urban America, and all over the world…see examples in Guatemala, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Mexico, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, and more.
Tires are durable, convenient, portable, and logical containers, especially when you’re a devotee of Mel Bartholemew’s Square Foot Gardening. A retired engineer (can’t you tell?), Bartholemew advocates laying out vegetable gardens as series of 1-foot-squares and figuring out how many veg like radishes (16), spinach plants (9), heads of lettuce (4), or tomato plants (1) can fit in each. Tires openings run about 17″ in diameter…not far off from the golden 1-foot square. Also, tires heat up and retain warmth.
And to top it off, tires stand in for the ultimate consumer expense: the new car. It’s time to turn that around.