I am sure you’ve seen these attractive upside-down tomato planters on youtube or elsewhere. But have your ever wondered why they are grown inverted? In this post, we will discuss the 4 Pros and the 4 Cons of this inverted system for growing tomatoes or any other vegetable plant for that matter.
Before we discuss on the Pros and Cons, Let’s first learn how to grow tomatoes upside down starting from the seedling stage.
You can grow tomato plants very easily from seeds in smaller containers or seedling trays first and then transplant them to larger containers. If you do not have seeds, you can grow them from fresh tomatoes. If you want to grow tomatoes upside down, choose a light weight variety like the cherry tomatoes.
Take any clean Potting soil containing peat moss or cocopeat and garden soil in 1:1 ratio with some 30% compost like vermicompost or decomposed cow dung.
Make multiple slices of about 3-4mm thickness and just place them in a container like this. Then cover with a thin layer of potting mix and make sure it’s not planted too deep. Finally water this thoroughly and place in a shady place like your window sil.
You should see the results within a week.
When they reach a size of about 3 to 4 inches, transplant them in little larger containers independently. Adding a pinch of phosphorous supply like the organic rock phosphate or bone meal powder in this early growth stage will help in stronger roots and a healthy disease resistant future plant. When these grow to about 8 to 10 inches, it’s time for the final transplant to a larger container.
To make them grow upside down, take any container like this hanging basket type container. Make a hole of about 1 inch diameter like this. Then take a piece of foam and cut through it like this. Remove the root ball of your tomato sapling and gently remove the dirt from the roots. Insert the roots through the hole and place the foam like this from the inner side of the container. Finally pour the potting mix into the container. Make sure you have good amount of compost and also mix a table spoon of phosphorous supply like bone meal or rock phosphate into this mix. Water the plant thoroughly and hang it at a favourite place in your garden. You might have to water it daily or you can even mulch the top with some mulching stuff to avoid water evaporation too quickly. You can also connect the drip feeder if you have a drip irrigation system.
Well, Now Let’s check out the Pros or the Reasons to Grow Tomatoes Upside Down:
- Small Space Gardening: You can grow tomatoes with little to no garden space. If you have a small balcony, you can grow them easily.
- Flexibility: Tomatoes need full sun and if you do not have sufficient sunlight in one area like in a balcony, you can easily shift to another area with full sunlight. Like for example, east facing balcony for morning sun and west facing balcony for evening sun. And moreover, they can be easily moved away from bad weather conditions.
- No Staking or Cages required: Staking is usually required to help the plant support the weight of the growing fruit. Smaller varieties like Cherry tomatoes do well when grown upside down.
- Pests and Diseases are limited: One reason is they are hung at a height and there is good air circulation around and the soil borne diseases are limited.
Now, let’s look at the Cons or Drawbacks of this system:
- Requires More Frequent Watering – like atleast daily watering and hence difficult to grow in summer season. So, you can mulch the top with some mulching stuff to avoid water evaporation too quickly. You can also connect the drip feeder if you have a drip irrigation system in your garden.
- Weight Bearing Problem: When the plant is loaded with fruits, this system will have problems, especially with beefsteak tomatoes. Smaller cherry tomatoes are the best to grow in this inverted planters.
- Fruit Ripening Issue. Tomatoes need sunlight to ripen the fruits. Fruits may not ripen well due to sunlight issues at the bottom part.
- U shaped Bends and Turns: This happens due to photo-tropism, where the tips of the branches turn upward towards the light and cause these U-shaped bends and turns.
But, Nonetheless, every hobby gardener must give this a try!