Gardening Vivian | 01 Apr 2010 04:28 pm

What’s Up With These Upside Down Tomatoes?

There has been a lot of publicity and advertising lately for growing upside down tomatoes in the home garden. It seems to offer several advantages to in-ground tomatoes.

First, being away from the ground, there is less chance of pests from invading your tomatoes. Unless they can fly, they can not reach the tomatoes. And most tomato pest are ground crawlers.

Second, being suspended, the water is applied above the roots and therefore, flows down by gravity to water the plant. This results in a healthier plant and higher yield.

Third, the tomatoes never touch the ground avoiding rot which is common when tomatoes sit on the ground. Additionally, since you can walk completely around the plant, it is easy to see and pick the ripe tomatoes.

So, how do you grow your own upside down tomatoes?

You can buy a complete kit with all you need from TV ads or the internet. However, they are rather expensive.

You can also do it all yourself for practically nothing. Here’s how.

You’ll need some containers. You can use almost any type container but the best is used 5 gallon plastic paint buckets with a handle.

Turn your bucket (or other container) upside down and cut out a 2 to 3 inch circular hole in the center of the bottom of the bucket. If use use plastic, this can be done with a drill or even a sharp knife.

Turn the bucket right side up and gently thread tomato leaves and steam through the hole in the bucket bottom (top of tomato plant facing down). Wrap several layers of newspaper around stem and root ball to prevent plant from falling through hole.

Supporting the plant from the bottom of the bucket, gently pack potting soil in the bucket down around the roots.

Fill remainder of bucket with soil and compost up to within 1 inch of the top.

Hang the bucket by it’s handle on a nail in a sunny location. You can make a simple wooden frame to hang the tomatoes about 5-6 feet off the ground if you want several plants (see link in Author Signature block below for pictures).

Water and fertilize as needed. Check the soil level, periodically, to make sure it does not settle down more than 2 inches from the top of bucket. Add soil as needed.

Suspended tomatoes will tend to grow upwards toward the sun, until they begin developing fruit, so check daily to make sure the stem is growing out of the bucket and not back into it.

This whole process can be done in about 15 minutes and cost nothing if you have access to some used buckets.

So, give it a try this year and you can amaze your family and friends with your “Upside Down Tomatoes”.

Ken Miller is a free lance writer and webmaster for, where you can find free photos of the upside down tomatoes as well as additional gardening articles for the back yard vegetable and flower gardener.

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