For gardeners with limited space, an upside down planter is an inexpensive, space-saving alternative. Instead of growing up out of the soil, the plant bed is raised allowing the plant to grow down through holes in the bottom. Upside down gardens tend to yield more bountiful harvests due to better air circulation.
The plants are also less susceptible to weeds, pests, and disease, making upside down gardening very low hassle and perfect for gardeners of any skill level.
There are two types of upside down gardens: special hanging buckets or plastic bags (such as the Topsy Turvy) that can accommodate one tomato plant and be placed virtually anywhere, and large, heavy-duty plastic stands (such as the one sold by Hammacher Schlemmer) that can accommodate up to 4 plants, but take up a bit more room on the back porch. You can purchase either style online or at your local nursery.
Planting Your Garden
It’s best to use starter tomato plants, such as the ones sold at your local nursery or through seed catalogs. If there isn’t a hole already in the bottom of your hanging planter, use a sharp knife to cut a small X in the bottom. Then gently slide in your tomato plant soil first. For stand-style planters, you will need to carefully insert the starter plant through a small hole leaves first.
Lastly, fill the planter with ordinary potting mix, water generously, and voila, your upside down garden is done!
Whether grown in a traditional garden plot or in an upside down garden, tomato plants need water and sunshine to thrive, so be sure to put your plants in a sunny spot and water often!
Growing More than Tomatoes
If you want to grow a few more things in your hanging planter, cut a few small slits in the sides of the bag before you fill it with soil. Slide in some strawberry plants or small herbs such as thyme or oregano. Again, use starter plants purchased from your local nursery.
If you’re using a stand-style planter, you can plant just about anything in the top of the bed including basil, catnip, or even bell or jalapeno peppers.
If your garden is hanging in a windy spot, you may want to consider creating a makeshift windbreaker to protect the plants, particularly young starter plants. Strong winds can bend stems causing bruising and breakings, which leads to dead plants and no fruit.
To make the windbreaker, purchase gardening fabric from your local nursery. This special fabric is thin enough to allow sunlight, air, and water to pass through, but it keeps out the pests. Simply wrap your plant in the fabric, or, if using the upside down stand, wrap the fabric around the outside supporting posts. Use Velcro or a bit of masking tape to hold the securely in place. Once the plants are big and strong, you can remove the windbreaker.
Upside down gardening isn’t limited to tomatoes. You can also grow hearty peppers and cucumbers this way. Don’t be afraid to experiment – just remember to have fun!