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DIY Upside Down Tomato Planter

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DIY Upside Down Tomato Planter

Post  fireboy on 9/19/2011, 3:21 am

I have gotten a lot of good help here on the forum and this is one of my small ways of repaying it back! So, I'm hoping that this will help someone maybe who cannot have any kind of garden but could have hanging tomatoes.

I had to go to hanging tomatoes this season but next year I will be able to have raised sq. ft. gardens on legs. Where I live was once a Shell Oil Company tank farm. We were told that we can not have any kind of a garden. I wont go into all the details (we are in ligation) but we had to get clearance to have raised gardens so thats planned for next year. And I want to give a big "THANKS" to "middlemamma" who told me all about Square Foot Gardening and the forum here, or I would still be wishing I could grow tomatoes!

DIY Upside Down Tomato Planter
If you don't know what Upside Down tomatoes are then take a look at my first picture which is a store bought kit, one of many different kinds on the market.

That kits comes with these items:
- a packet of tomatoes seeds
- planter with a clear plastic lid
- hanger to hang the planter(not shown)
- soil
- instructions

First you have to fill the planter with the soil and plant two tomato seeds that come with the kit in a small packet, water until they grew to 4 inches tall before hanging it upside down. Then continue watering and gathering in your tomatoes that it produces.

Which bring me to the topic of this thread if you want to do it all yourself.
Here is how I did it with pictures worth a thousand words using a five gallon bucket.

By the way, this is my second attempt using a five gal. bucket. The first time I bought two plants at the big box store and cut the hole you see in the middle of this same bucket. Then I tried but did not succeed to insert two plants into that hole without damaging the roots. Total failure, see the pictures that did succeed.

I do not suggest trying to cut the bucket as shown in the pictures using a knife, that could be rather dangerous and very hard to do just because the plastic is thick and very hard to cut with a knife. I used a jig saw which made the job very easy.

List of items needed:
- two tomatoes plants, however you get the plants, from the store or grow
from seeds.
- potting soil or Mel's Mix. Fill half of a five gallon buck, fill any other smaller
- plastic bucket or pail with a gallon or more capacity.
- some kind of heavy duty cord or thread to lace up the saw cut in the bucket, see the pictures.
- heavy cord for hang the buck down low so it's easy to water the tomatoes.
- hand drill with a 1/8" twist drill,(do not use a twist drill much larger).
- a piece of cloth "or" a piece of plastic screen like the type used on screen
doors and windows about 4" square. But cotton cloth should be adequate.
Fold the cloth or screen until wrapping it around the plants closes up the
space in the hole between the plants and the edges of the hole. I used
plastic screen which is somewhat hard to see in the pictures.

Cutting the plastic bucket:
First, I used a jig saw to cut(hack) the center hole where the tomatoes plants will go. Then I cut the cut across the buck as shown to create pull out flap. Cutting the bucket as in the picture, you can pry the newly cut flap open and insert a large tomato plant(s) without doing any damage to the roots or stem of the plants.

If you use a five gallon bucket it's will be somewhat difficult to pry the flap open and insert your plants. The plastic is rather thick in the bottom and sides of any good plastic five gallon bucket. It will take some effort to pry the flap open but it can be done without doing damage to your tomato plant. By first prying the flap up with an object about two inches wide and leaving the object in the flap opening off to the side of where the plants will go in the center hole, while you insert your plants. But, trying to pull the flap up and inserting the plants at the same time without help could be more than a little challenging.

Next, drill the small holes as shown in the pictures using the hand drill and the 1/8" twist drill. Drill the small holes as shown along the edge of the cut, near the larger center tomato plant hole. This will allow you to stitch up the cut so the bottom of the bucket will not bulge out and dump the soil and plant after you get it hung up and it's all wet and heavy. I used nylon cord that will most likely last more than one season, see the pictures.

The cut for the bendable flap is all the drainage you will need for drain holes. In the pictures you can see extra holes that I drilled. They were suppose to be for stitching up the cut, but they were not needed after all. Stitching up the cut close to the plant hole in the center was all the stitching I needed to do. But, without the stitching the flap will give way in time and most of the soil will be dumped out. Do the stitching after you insert the plants but before you add the soil. The stitching is easy, just lace it as shown keeping it all tight and tie it off with a so it will not come out of the holes.

One thing I learned even on the store bought kits: if you do not put something like a piece of cloth or screen around the plants, between the plants and the hole you will lose quite a bit of soil as time goes by. So, wrap a piece of cloth around the plant to take up the space between the plants and the hole and that will stop the soil from washing out, but allow drainage.

Hang the bucket at a height to where it's going to be easy for you to use a water pail and water your tomatoes. I would not get carried away with hanging the bucket over your head.

Thanks for letting me post and all the help!


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Re: DIY Upside Down Tomato Planter

Post  middlemamma on 9/20/2011, 2:49 am

Hi Fireboy!!!

Awesome to see you still at it and working on getting that garden you wanted!

I will be so excited to see your SFG's!!! Whooohooo!!!!

Good job on the planters...I had one like that first one you show. Someone gave it to me I think. and I will probably plant some flowers that will pour out over the sides...no bueno for tomato!

Thanks for the tutorial...Smile Good job! Don't forget to post that first vine ripened tomato for us all to see!

My season here is nearly over. I will be living vicariously through you all winter!


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Location : Post Falls Idaho and LOVING it

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