Monday, June 29, 2009

Upside Down Tomato Gardening

Many sites are promoting using a 5-gallon bucket. DON'T!I tried a bucket 1/2 that size and it's just too heavy and an overuse of soil. Instead, recycle a 12-inch high by 6-8-inch diameter plastic pot. Decorate, paint (non-toxic) or wrap in decorative plastic before you proceed.

Turn planter upside down. Center a 1-1 1/2 inch hole. Drill at least 4 drainage holes along edge. Thread a 4' heavy cord or rope through each of the drainage holes so that one end comes up from inside the pot. the other end comes up from outside the pot. Tie the 2 ends together at rim edge. Now you have 4 double hangers. About 6-8 inches up from rim knot these all together.

Find a place to hang so you can work on planter. I used a short shepherd's hook. Take a 4" square of sponge or foam. Make a cut to center and then a > off center cut. >----- Take a small tomato plant and carefully coax leaves through the center hole in planter. If plant is larger, gently wash all soil off roots and coax roots up though bottom of the planter. Gently guide the tomato stem through the cut in sponge from inside the planter. The tomato plant is now anchored. Fill the pot with good soil such as MiracleGro, Expert, or Schultz. Until your plant develops some weight, it will naturally grow toward the sun. Don't be alarmed.

Now hang your planter in an area that will get at least 6 hours of sun. Make sure your hook or branch can take the weight. T-clothesline poles are excellent. So are the 2x4 headers of a porch or from the underside of tall decks.

The theory behind hanging tomatoes is that the pot gets warmed by the sun faster than the ground soil. This promotes faster growth and earlier tomatoes. Since a tomato plant is a vine, free hanging is more natural than staking.

Maintenence is more involved. You need to water thoroughly and more frequently than ground grown. Fertilize every other week with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer.
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