The last several years I’ve grown tomatoes in the upside down hanging contraptions known as Topsy Turvys. It’s worked real well other than having to move before any tomatoes got ripe last year. Note: it’s real hard to move plants that are hanging out the bottom of their pots. The only real problem is these hanging planters are cheaply made and to get two years out of them requires a liberal application of duct tape.
This year I decided to try something different. I went with the plants growing out the top of five gallon plastic buckets. I didn’t have a way to hang the buckets high enough to keep the plants away from the critters down here. Not if I have the plants coming out the bottom. Also, if I have to take the tomato plants in at night, because it gets cold again, I can sit them on the floor in the pump house. If they were hanging I’d be hard pressed for a place to hang them inside.
I drilled holes large enough to put small S-hooks every third of the way around the tops of the buckets. Then I used some parachute cord to make hangers for them. The hooks I used were actually shelf brackets with hooks on the end for a hanging clothes rod. They were the strongest looking hooks I could find that would put the hook out away from the carport posts I was going to hang the planters from:
I drilled some small holes in the bottoms of the buckets so they’ll drain. Then I put a small flat rock in the bottom to keep the dirt from clogging the holes. I put a couple of inches of creek sand over the rock because the sand will drain well. Then I filled the buckets to the depth of the plants existing pots with potting soil. I used Miracle Grow potting soil to make sure the plants are fed well. Then I tore the bottom and sides off the fiber pots the plants came in and put the plants in the middle of the bucket. I filled in more potting soil around them to the same depth as the dirt in the pots. They’re about an inch from the top of the bucket.
I put a gallon of water in each bucket tonight. The temperature is only supposed to go down to 48 tonight and not below 40 in the seven-day forecast so I should be able to leave them out there. You can see both plants are blooming already but that’s not a sign I’ll get any tomatoes soon:
I’m really hoping these tomatoes do better than the upside down plants. There’s so much root trauma trying to stuff the root ball through the relatively small hole in the bottom of those Topsy Turvys that it really takes the plants a while to recover and get going. Well see about these.
Another advantage is the buckets were way cheaper than Topsy Turvys, or other pots that size. It was only about $2.50 for a bucket. Add in the S-hooks, brackets, and parachute cord and it’s still less than $5.00 for each plant. And I should be able to use them for years.
Last but not least, since the dogs can’t talk I don’t have to worry about anyone complaining that the buckets are ugly. I can see my daughters and sister cringing at these pictures. I’ll take ugly all summer if I can get some good tomatoes in the bargain.