Farmers discovered years ago that tomatoes can grow really well if you plant them upside down. Today, there are plenty of good upside down planters on the market. The only problem is that they can be expensive. But, you can easily make an upside down tomato planter yourself.
First, you need a good sturdy bucket for each plant. You will need to use at least a 4-inch tall tomato. We used Murdoch’s 5-gallon buckets as a planter. The main thing your bucket needs is a good handle. A lid is not really necessary.
Cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket. Make it only an inch or two across — you don’t want your plant to fall out.
Gently position your tomato plant in the hole so that the roots are inside the bucket and the stems are sticking out of the bottom by feeding the foliage through the hole in the bottom of your bucket. (You may enlist some help for this step unless you already have somewhere to hang your bucket where you can still reach inside.) For taller tomatoes cut the lowest stems and plant the main stem deep for an even stronger vine.
Fill soil around the roots. Fill the entire bucket with soil because upside down tomato plants can grow a lot of roots.
Caring for tomato plants
- The number one reason tomatoes become diseased is poor watering habits. Tomatoes should never be so dry that they wilt. Wilting weakens the plant and makes it susceptible to insects and diseases. The 5-gallon bucket dries out less than the commercial pots you’ve seen on television, making it easier to care for in an arid climate.
- With gravity pulling down on the plant, it will grow thick sturdy stalks that may curve up into the air. They will sprout more stems per stalk than a normal tomato plant and support a lot more weight.
- Hang your bucket somewhere that gets a lot of sun. If you use a lid, cut a hole in it big enough for rain to enter.
- Add a 16-16-16 fertilizer after planting. As the tomato comes into bloom, decrease nitrogen to push ripening rather than new growth.
- Hanging your tomato plant keeps the fruit from touching the ground (subsequently preventing blemishes) and allows sun all the way around. This helps tomatoes ripen sooner and more evenly than traditional plants. The gravity and additional circulation also helps the tomato plant produce more tomatoes and bigger tomatoes.