Friday, June 6, 2008

How to Grow Upside Down Tomato Plants

I wasn’t a big gardener. In my rental, I tried growing tomato plants in pots. I was too cheap and  lazy. I
didn’t buy tomato cages and tried using a wooden dowel rod and yarn as a plant stake.

 That experiment in cheapatoode didn’t work out as well as I planned because the plant grew taller than the dowel rod. Then big heavy tomato vine overloaded the stake and constantly flopped fruits of my labor over the side of the pot and onto the ground where it became bug lunch. I relied on Mother in Law for homegrown tomatoes after that fiasco.

At 4’11”, I’m still not a big gardener, but I’m coming around to the whole stick-a-plant-in-dirt-and-hope-it-lives thing. For now, I figure that any plant that I grow better do something more than just look pretty, like be food or insect-deterrent.

Given my limited food-growing space on my teeny tiny patio, and the fact that the former tomato plant pot now is chock full of basil plants, I thought that I’d give an upside down tomato planter a try. I got my planter as a gift.  

Photobucket


How to Plant an Upside Down Tomatoes



Materials

Power Drill (if you need to install a plant hanger)
Potting Soil
Fertilizer/compost
Tomato plant (duh)
Dirt (double duh)
Epsom salt
Water
Small shovel/trowel
Gardening gloves (if you don’t want to get your hands dirty)


Do It

1. If needed, use the power drill to drill a pilot hole in a stud in your porch, overhang, etc. and install a hook/plant hanger so you can hang up your planter.

2. Dump a healthy dose of fertilizer/compost (do not use Quickie Compost for this project. Tomatoes don’t like nitrogen-based fertilizers.) into the bag of potting soil and mix it up with the small shovel/trowel. You can skip this step if you cheat like I did and buy potting soil that has a natural fertilizer already mixed into the potting soil.

3. Add a dash of Epsom salt into the potting soil and mix it up with the small shovel/trowel.* For some reason, tomatoes love, love, love Epsom salts in their soil and will grow like gangbusters. Maybe they like to soak their roots in a soothing Epsom salt bath after a tough day just like us humans. Come to think of it, how tough a day can a tomato have leisurely basking the sun and slowly growing?! I digress, on to Step 4.

4. Remove the tomato plant from the nursery’s plant pot and break up the root ball of the plant a bit with your fingers.

5. Put the tomato plant in the planter with the roots inside the planter.

6. Fill the planter with dirt using the small shovel/trowel/your hands.

7. Hang the planter up. Be careful, the planter will be heavy.

8. Water the planter daily because the upsides down planters tend to dry out more quickly than traditionally potted tomato plants.

9. Watch it grow!

*If you’ve already planted tomatoes and forgotten to add some Epsom salt to the soil, not to worry. Dissolve a dash of Epsom salt in the water and water your tomato plants with the Epsom salt water. Do not use table salt for this step of the project. However, feel free to sprinkle table salt on a slice of a fully-grown tomato if you wish. Hmmmm…good eating!

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