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A low tech way to cut tires to make raised garden beds.

For the last few years I have explored the art of creating and maintaining gardens which are formatted and held in place by auto tires.

There's a trick to slicing the tires so that make workable rings. You'll find any DIY for that task  here among my bookmarks.

However, I've always aspired to do more with rubber than be sentenced to a succession of Olympic rings garden beds, and a design engineered by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation -- Permanent Raised Bed Gardening: Recycled Tire Beds -- has always interested me as a tire option(pictured left).

To create these recycled tire beds you need to also cut the tire across the grain so that the rubber becomes one long strip. But cutting that way means you have to slice though the steal belt embedded in the rubber.

Since I'm moving house I soon learnt that disposal of car tires costs money (up to $5 per tire!) -- and I had amassed a good collection of tires . At that price  I began to fret about  how to handle my rubber.

So I concentrated on cutting the tires one more time across the grain.
Do not use a grinder as the exercise produces toxic fumes as it more or less sets the rubber alight. The grinder disc will also be quickly worn down by the rubber
.The best way to proceed, and for me with my low tech options, and shallow skills, the only way,   is to use a Stanley Knife to open up the rubber on the tire to expose the steal wires embedded in the rubber. Once exposed slice though the steal with a hacksaw. If you twist the tire so that the metal is  tensed directly to the file blade, you should be able to cut though the tire in 2-3 minutes of effort. That will give you a rubber mat just under 2 metres long.

Before the chorus starts up, here is an article about the main environment concerns about auto tires in contact with soil: used as a garden mulch.Also there's this aside:
But---What about food production? Creating raised beds out of used tires and growing vegetable crops.
Tires around soil as a raised bed garden has been used by many people. I  have not heard of problems from that, but the surface area in contact  with soil is small. In the short term, it may be little problem. But eventually the rubber degrades, Zn gets in the soil, and if the soil pH  is 6 or below, uptake may be too much. Again, the higher the surface  area, the more rapid the release of Zn and toxicity observation..Toxicity to plants from ground rubber used as a mulch  or a component or potting media, or burned tire residues in soils, have  killed a wide range of plant species.(ref)
My point is that using tire rubber as garden bed walls is not a massive exercise in toxicity. Over a very long time you will get break down, of course, and some leaching, but I fail to see how that is so extraordinary compared to the massive , and much larger, scale of pollutants that permeate any urban existence. Tire rubber, still integrated with the original  tire, and not desiccated or pulped, is a useful, free, generally stable material that would a mostly creates a huge disposal problem. It resists termite attack and doesn't collapse or, for that matter, rot away. When cut into strips it can be flexed and joined  into different garden bed designs.

I can afford to be smug: I don't drive or own a car. I'm just doing my practical bit so the car drivers can drive on oblivious to the toxicity generated of their everyday activity.
"Oh!" says Mr or Ms Driver," I could never put that in my mouth -- food grown in such close proximity to car tires. Imagine the harm! Imagine. I'm just so dedicated to organics. But I don't care one iota for all the stuff my vehicle pumps into the air and leaves on the road surface every day, or the complications of disposing of my several sets of car tires over my driving lifetime... I simply will not  allow that any where near my food."
I also like working with tires this way-- gardening noir.


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