The Failed Sweet Potato Experiment

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Professionals

The Failed Sweet Potato Experiment

On July 5 I wrote post called Grow Sweet Potatoes in Southeast Michigan and Recycle Your Old Tires at the Same Time.

In a nutshell, we were attempting to grow our sweet potatoes vertically by stacking tires as the plant grew. It idea was, when fall came we could knock over the stack of tires and WALA! Piles of spuds. 50 pounds per stack!

That was the idea....

All summer, as the plants grew over the top of the stack, we would throw another tire on top and run out to the manure pile (beautiful, 2 year old rotted manure- aka "black gold- Michigan tea"), scoop a load with Alice (our Alice Chalmers tractor has a front end loader and her name is Alice), and fill the stack to the top. As you can see below the stacks got pretty tall.

sweet potato stack

 The photos below are of our "crop." All 5 potatoes!

sweet potatoes

We will not give up! There must be a way to grow sweet potatoes in the Thumb of Michigan. We will be trying the tire method again next year with significant modifications. In the meantime we were able to harvest breakfast for the next couple days and will have a long winter to tweak our approach.

Posted by

Jackie Hawley, Realtor, ePro

ReMax Encore
Cell: (248)736-6406
Jackie@JackieHawley.com 
www.MiRelocation.com 

 

Comments (20)

Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

How very creative of you!  I would love to grow some sweet potatos... fresh ones are soooo good!  Kathy

Oct 01, 2010 12:10 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

I bet you can grow some great ones in California! We will tweak and succeed!

Oct 01, 2010 12:14 PM
Mary Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Roswell, GA
Top Agents Atlanta Metro

I love sweet potatoes, hope yours were not rubbery (HA HA) 

Oct 01, 2010 02:00 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

I hope they're not rubbery, too :) I'll find out this weekend

Oct 01, 2010 02:59 PM
Jason Channell
Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan - Troy, MI
The House Sleuth

Another Michigan Innovation! Recycling at its best. I'm interested to see how your changes next year work out.

Sweet potatoes are great -- especially in the form of sweet potato pie.

Oct 01, 2010 06:03 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

I'm interested to see if the tweaking works, too! We're using some tractor tires this fall to extend our season for things like lettuce, cilantro, basil... Fresh manure (for heat) under compost in the tire (protection and heat) to try for fresh lettuce and herbs past Christmas. At least that's the goal.

Oct 02, 2010 03:27 AM
Mary McGraw
GLREA - Rockford, MI
2015: Solar Energy Is Still A Simple Machine!

I love this! What a great experiment and it looks like a fantastic meal for Thanksgiving!!! Kudos!

Oct 02, 2010 02:20 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Mary- Next year will work out better. We decided that part of the problem was too much nitrogen- all plant and little fruit (spuds). Thanks!

Oct 02, 2010 04:16 PM
Mary McGraw
GLREA - Rockford, MI
2015: Solar Energy Is Still A Simple Machine!

Sounds like you are on to something Jackie the sweet potato grower! I love sweet potatoes...not with all the marshmallows and sugar...just a great, baked sweet potato! If you have extras next year I'll come get them!

Oct 03, 2010 01:55 AM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

They're good for breakfast. Baked with a little butter. See you next fall! If all goes as planned I plan on getting 50 pounds out of two stacks!

Oct 03, 2010 04:13 AM
Grace Culver
Michigan Homes Network - home advertising and search - Ferndale, MI
Advertising

Oh My, never heard of growing potatoes this way.  Looks like you had some success, although not what you expected.  Goodluck, hopefully you will have better results next time.

Oct 03, 2010 11:12 AM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Grace- thank you. I think part of the problem was using straight manure. Even though it was rotted it was probably too high in nitrogen. Next year we're going to try half straw half rotted manure. I'll document next summer and post. Maybe I can start a new trend- container growing in old tires :)

Oct 03, 2010 11:41 AM
Gloria Todor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Newtown Square, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Jackie, Seems like you did quite well - 5 very large potatoes is not so bad for that space.  Enjoy!

Container growing in just one tire was a common thing in the neighborhood I grew up in years ago, more for herbs, single tomato plants and flowers in limited yard space.  Glad to see it is making a comeback and in a different way!  Good for you!

Gloria

 

Oct 03, 2010 12:41 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Hi Gloria- We just put an old tractor tire in what used to be my flower bed. My mom put fresh manure in the bottom and rotted manure on top and planted lettuce. Hoping to eat fresh lettuce and herbs through most of the winter. Where did you grow up? I've been finding quite a few articles about growing inside of tires- mostly to extend the growing season.

Oct 03, 2010 02:40 PM
Gloria Todor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Newtown Square, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Jackie, Sounds like a great plan, protection in those tires. 

I grew up outside of Philadelphia, in Bridgeport, Montgomery County, not too far from Delaware County, where I am now.  There were many people from various parts of Italy and Eastern Europe in my neighborhood who had great gardens in their tiny backyards and some would use the tires to add to their growing space.  Tires were also used as an art form with plantings in the center, and the tires would be split and turned inside out or something and have a decorative edge on the upper part and even painted., hard to tell it was a tire.  This was back in the 60's and early 70's.  I also remember not one inch of earth was wasted by these people who loved their gardens.

Gloria

Oct 03, 2010 04:19 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Gloria- Hi. I've seen them painted on some online articles about growing in tires. Haven't seen it in real life. Nice to know it's been done in real life since we plan on trying more plantings inside of tires this fall and next year.

Thanks
Jackie

Oct 04, 2010 12:05 PM
Marilyn Harrell
Better Homes and Acres - Beaverton, MI
Wixom Lake - Beaverton MI

Every growing season seems to differ as to what does poorly and what grows like MAD! The amish use the tire method for regular potatoes - we are planning to try it next year!

Oct 08, 2010 08:24 AM
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

It was a great thought Jackie, thanks for sharing the outcome with us.

Oct 08, 2010 04:23 PM
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Marilyn- I think the person who told my mom about growing sweet potatoes this way learned if from the Amish. Please let me know how it works with regular potatoes next fall.

Chris- 15 years ago we moved 40 miles or so north not realizing that our growing season is sometimes a month shorter, so we have been trying a lot of different things to extend our growing season. Some things have been more successful than other things.

Oct 09, 2010 11:00 AM
Anonymous
Chris

Thanks for the pictures of growing potatos in tires - my understanding is that kumara (sweet potatos) grow down while potatos grow up. So perhaps the answer is to make your tire stack full hight and plant your kumara/sweet potato.

Apr 10, 2011 11:52 AM
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