Cold Frame Tire Potatoes


Living and gardening in Maine can be a challenge at times; just when you think you have everything all figured out Mother Nature rears her head and smacks you in the face with a late snow storm or an early frost. So we need to be creative in our gardening methods; such as using a cold frame stack of tire potatoes.

I stumbled upon the idea one day when I was working on a different project and set a pane of glass across a tire that was next to me. An hour later when I removed the glass I noticed how warm it was inside the tire and a light bulb went off. We had used the traditional tire method for a couple years where you add tires as the plant grows and harvest when the plant dies off. We decided to modify it the following spring by integrating window panes and below is a timeline of the results.

Feb. 12th the soil is still frozen hard

I got some free panes from local window company

March 6th we still have snow

March 12th the soil was totally thawed and warm

March 20th we planted our seed potatoes

We watered often over the next several weeks

Little baby potatoes soon started sprouting

On hot days we removed the glass totally

May 31st we were two tires high and the panes went away

We kept stacking and adding soil all summer

September 23rd we harvested

Make sure to check everywhere

It was probably the best harvest we have ever had growing tire potatoes and it is the way we have planted them ever since. We have even expanded on it by using it for different vegetables; especially plants that love warm temperatures like peppers.

If you try this method make sure that you monitor the temperatures inside the stacks on really warm days; I had one stack so hot that the soil was smoking. Speaking of temperatures; do your due diligence and research off-gassing concerns with tires; from everything I have read the jury is still out on whether or not it is a health concern to use tires as a growing container. Make the best informed decision you can for you and your family. Good luck with your garden this year.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that’s taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.



  1. 6 months seems like a long time to grow potatoes! that just sounds weird to me, seeing how it only takes half that time to grow them in my garden. Also, if there is a concern for folks using tires, as far as possible issues with the tires themselves, raised beds would probably work just as well with plastic covering or reclaimed windows.