Growing Tomato Plants Upside Down

In the past, my husband, Dave, has put out tomato plants in a bed next to our house. Every summer we have always enjoyed delicious tomatoes.

This year he has decided to plant his tomatoes in buckets like they show on TV.

He did not buy any special containers.

He is using regular 5 gallon utility buckets and he started this project approximately three weeks ago.

We are going to show you how Dave started his upside down tomato plants project and will continue to add weekly pictures to show his progress until they are ready to be pulled off the vine.

One thing I will say is that we already have one tomato on each plant. So far, so good.

Here are the materials he used for this project:

  • A clean 5 gallon utility bucket for each plant with the lid and a handle;
  • Dirt. Dave found that each bucket will hold 1 cubic foot of garden soil;
  • A plastic window screen;
  • A plastic sign to make the plant retainer (keeping the plant from falling out); and
  • MOST importantly, a plant.

Tools:

  • A hole saw to drill the opening; OR
  • A sharp knife will do IF you are careful

HOW TO MAKE DAVE’S UPSIDE DOWN BUCKET TO HOLD YOUR TOMATO PLANTS

First, drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket large enough to insert the plant. Our plant came in a 3-inch peat moss pot. So a 3-inch hole was required.

Flip the bucket right side up. Take some plastic window screen and place it inside the base of the bucket. This will keep the dirt from falling out. Next, fill the container with dirt and put on the lid. Flip the bucket over, cut the screen just big enough for the plant and then insert it in the hole.

Leave the bucket upside down for several days to help the plant start growing.

To keep the plant from falling out, place some plastic pieces around the plant stalk and screw into place. Do not squeeze the plant stalk. As the plant stalk grows larger, move these plastic pieces further apart.

Flip the bucket over and hang in the desired location to support the bucket. Dave attached a post to an existing fence, then attached a steel pip to hold the buckets and hung a bucket on each side of the fence to keep the buckets from pulling the fence over. Another suggestion would be to hang them from an old swing set you no longer use.

Dave is watering the plants daily. He has added a top plant. He wants to determine if he can double the yield. See the pictures above.

Wish him luck and let us know if any of you have tried growing your tomatoes this way.

Three weeks is when he added the top plant and the buckets were put on the stand

Tomato plants three weeks since planted

Fourth Week: We have flowers, but have not found any new tomatoes. We still have one on each plant at the bottom. They have grown this week as you can see below.

Tomato plants four weeks since planted.

Fifth Week: We found a few new tomatoes just starting this week. See bottom picture.

Tomato plants five weeks since planted.

Sixth Week (It really has been 10 days): Our new tomatoes are growing and there are new buds.

Eighth Week (It’s been 10 days since our last pictures): They are almost ready to pick.

We did eat the couple of tomatoes in the pictures above. They were very good. We just wish there were more!
We are not taking pictures as often since not much is going on with our tomato plants. These two pictures were taken July 13, 2009. We finally have a few new flowers as you can see on the picture on the right.

I think these are the most pitiful tomato plants we have ever had. We have been thinking about what has gone wrong this year. Next year we are going to plant some tomato plants back in the bed where we had them last year. Also, we are going to try the up-side-down plantings again but this time, we are going to put our post in the shade instead of the sun. Wish us luck!


This is the last entry of the ongoing saga of our upside down tomato plants. We have decided that we will try again next year, along with planting them in the ground.
One change we are going to make is we will put the buckets so they will be in the shade part of the time. We did have a lot of rain this year, but we think the problem was too much sun. We were very disappointed with these.

We hope you had better luck than we did.

We decided that after this experience, we would not try this again. We will go back to putting our tomatoes plants in the ground!

Please share your experience with growing tomatoes this summer. Below are your thoughts so far:
Your Thoughts About Your Tomato Plants

Makisi from Arusha, Tanzania says: As your plant,I have more experience with that method for about five years. No staking sometimes tomato drops down. Below the hanging tomato my goat and sheep graze . They always enjoy looking tomato may be because of the taste. Sometimes I and goat look tomato simultaneously very funny. Bird enjoy tomato also and reproduction start at my farm so I harvest tomato and new generation for bird continue. I happy because no pest attack may be its biological control.

Stephanie from Ohio says: I have got a beefmaster tomato, in the ground, not upside-down, but it is now over 5ft tall. It has lots of buds and a couple small tomatoes coming in now.

Let us know what you think and we will post it here.

Dave Altman
 

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