Periodically I have found myself at the home and garden store thinking about these topsy turvy tomato planters wondering how they provide all of the necessary components of tomato health.
Sometimes when I am driving I see the swollen bags with healthy plants growing up out of them and it does make sense. Plants need growing medium, water, nutrients, and sunshine. Tomatoes especially are able to grow in an inverted fashion because they are viney.
So, I began an experiment. This was some years ago after first having seen the topsy turvy at the store. I figured out the recipe for growing plants upside down by reading the instructions on the box. My upside down growth system involved the following: potting soil, coffee filter, vermiculite, a bucket, and cherry tomato plant.
The bucket is used upright with the plant growing out of the bottom. I cut my hole out with a hole-cutting drill bit. A two inch hole is big enough to gently tease the plant through from the inside of the bucket. Care must be taken to not damage the plant. The perfect plant for this purpose is one the size that comes in a four pack.
In order to keep soil from leaking out the hole, us a coffee filter with a slash made in the center just big enough for the rootball to fit through. The root ball can then be roughed up a bit to promote growth. Then add soil. I prefer a potting soil from the store that has some nutrients built in. I add vermiculite to promote drainage.
After a through watering, the planting is ready to hang in full sun. My neighbor suggested planting something in the top of the bucket, since I was watering it every day anyway. I balked at first thinking that any other plants would compete for water and nutrients. I decided to try and it was no issue. Since I water and monitor my plants daily, it was not an issue. Herbs make an interesting aromatic watering experience every morning and supplement my herb gardens bounty.
Hints and tips: you can use the same bucket year after year and unlike a tomato planted in the ground, you can hang the bucket in the same place every year. If you hang the tomato bucket low enough, your grand children can access a healthy snack right off the vine.
Lastly, as the first frost approaches, you can move the hanging bucket inside the house if you have room to hang it. It may continue producing fruit long after the outside plants have died off. For those with limited space, this is an excellent opportunity to have home grown fruit on a porch or small yard.