Condo Blues: How to Grow Upside Down Tomato Plants

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.  


How to Plant an Upside Down Tomatoes


Power Drill (if you need to install a plant hanger)
Potting Soil
Tomato plant (duh)
Dirt (double duh)
Epsom salt
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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maggie said...

Oh, wow, now *that* is really cool. I live in an apartment, so far have only tried growing basil (and it's working!) but would love to do something like this. Awesome that you did it in haiku, too ;)

Mom24 said...

That is really cool. I'm letting all of you experiment with it this year, and then if reports go well, I'll try it next year! Good luck with it, I hope I get to try it. lol

Mariuca said...

Hey Lisa, thanks for stopping by MPG! This upside-down tomato plant sure is cool! have a good weekend. :)

Liz said...

haha, i've seen this one in a magazine and it;s really cool. i think you can also buy a ready plant to hang if you don't have time to diy.

Anonymous said...

I've often thought about trying this. And thanks for the tip about the Epsom salts. I hadn't heard about that one before, and I'll give it a try.

p.s. I also gave you a stumble review.

Anonymous said...

I live in the desert in AZ. Do you water everyday? I don't want to drown it but worry about not enough water.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Anon - I watered it everyday. Here's a post with the dos and don't of my watering schedule

Sapphires said...

I have an apartment with a balcony and maybe the petunias would look really cool upside down. Moss roses maybe? It's worth a try. I just dont have the time to futz with flowers like I used to, but still want some out there for the summer. Maybe the gardening centers will catch on if there's enough demand for the upside down method and carry some of those type of containers. I'll take a look around town this weekend.

Dazy said...

I think as a gardener(?), you grow several different varieties of tomatoes. Actually I will seek out new varieties for the garden and the table.

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