Upside down tomato gardening is an increasingly popular means of growing and enjoying homegrown tomatoes without the time, effort and expense of maintaining a traditional garden. Planting tomatoes upside down in vertical-grow bags, commercially available kits, or homemade planters is also an excellent option for people who have limited outdoor space or live in condos or apartments that only have a patio or balcony.
Vertical Grow Bags and Kits
One of the most economical means of growing tomatoes upside down is to utilize a vertical-grow bag or vertical-grow bag kit. These can be found at many garden centers, home improvement stores, and discount shops and are also a popular infomercial product. They are typically made of polypropylene and hang from a mid weight chain and small hook. Because most vertical-grow bags and kits are lighter weight, they are most appropriate for use with smaller determinate varieties as well as cherry tomatoes.
Store Bought Hanging Systems
There are a myriad of commercially available vertical planter systems, and their quality and construction can vary dramatically. Some feature a simple bucket or steel cage design that is meant to hang from a hook on a balcony, patio, deck or other surface. Others are larger, freestanding metal or plastic structures with decorative planters. Many of the higher end models are self-watering and feature value added benefits such as swiveling hooks and exterior powder coating to protect the planter and hardware from the elements.
Homemade Hanging Systems
With a few basic supplies and a little bit of creativity and ingenuity, many gardeners opt to construct their own upside down tomato planters. The biggest benefit of making your own tomato planters is that the cost is minimal and the end result can be as simple or complex as your needs require. Free plans are readily available online on websites such as instructables.com.
There are several benefits to growing tomatoes upside down, including no need to till or weed, less instances of soil borne diseases and no need to worry about stakes, cages or plant supports. A multitude of tomatoes can be grown in a relatively small space in an apartment terrace or patio. The fact that most upside down tomato systems allow you to use both the top and bottom portions of the planter means that it is versatile and space saving enough to grow companion plants on the top portion. Many gardeners use the top region to grow herbs, radishes or other small edibles.
Upside down tomato gardening has a few drawbacks. The initial installation of some types of planters can be tricky and in some cases may require two people. Plants will need to be watered more frequently than tomatoes in the ground to prevent drying out. This can be problematic in hotter climates where the plants are apt to become dry very quickly. Conversely, heavy rains can pose a problem with some upside down planters and may result in plants toppling over, warped or damaged hooks and drainage problems.