Author Topic: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes  (Read 5576 times)

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Offline WooferHound

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Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« on: May 27, 2012, 09:39:13 pm »
After seeing the "Topsy Turvy" Commercial too many times I decided to try and grow an upside-down tomato plant. I had a couple of tomato plants growing out of the compost pile so I used one of those since it was extra and this is an experiment. The ad says . . .
"As Topsy Turvy® hangs upside down, gravity pulls the water and nutrients directly from the root to the fruit, giving you a deliciously ripe tomatoes!  Plus, hanging in the air helps reduce ground fungus, harmful bacteria, cutworm damage, use of pesticides, digging & weeding and backbreaking work."
I did a little Googling and found out that it's easy to make your own upside-down tomato planter.

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Basically you just cut a small hole in the bottom of a bucket.
Set the bucket up on something that will allow a plant to hang through the bottom.
Place some cloth in the bottom and cut a hole in it, this keeps the dirt from falling through.
Thread the leaves of a tomato plant through the hole/cloth being careful not to damage it.
Hold the rootball up inside and carefully add dirt to the top of the bucket
Fertilize and water it all, then hang it up on something strong because it will be heavy.
It's a fairly tricky process but not too bad.

The information I saw said Not to use plants that grow to be very large, the plant I'm growing is a Big Boy so I don't know what to expect it to do.  The plant tries to grow Up and the roots try to grow Down which is a contradiction in itself. People that have done this say that the upside-down plants don't grow as good and produce less fruit but this is only a test so I don't care.

The picture was taken today. It's been growing this way for 3 weeks.
I'll make updates here as things happen . . .
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Offline kensue49

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 10:29:58 pm »
We did two plants last year.
They ended up being 5 foot long, the plant out of the bucket, and it worked very well.
The only problem is keeping it watered.
The container hanging in the sun and air gets warmer and you use more water.
It was worth a try on our part. The tomatoes were good and easy to pick.
We had less insect damage and did not use any pesticides.
Good Luck, you may need to raise the bucket. :D

Offline tomw

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 08:20:26 am »
We tried that, Woof.

It worked but like kensue said they dry out fast.

It will need to be hung on a higher hook.

The second time around we added those water retention granules "Sure Moist" or something which are amazing things put a pinch of it in a glass oif water and it absorbs it all.  The watering issue was helped with those. One of those sesame seed size grains will swell up to grape size with retained water.

Just how we did it. We grow in the ground now due to the better yield and less effort of earth bound plants. But, then again, Amy has a 5,000 square foot, fenced main gardening area and another fenced area for larger crops that will have pigs in it this year to get ahead of the weeds that developed when neither of us could keep up with the space due to health issues.

Good luck with it!

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Offline WooferHound

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2012, 08:45:20 am »
Yes Guys, I have 2 more hanging points, one is 2 feet higher and the other is 4 feet higher.I intend to build a rope sling to hold the bucket better and I will remove the metal hanger from the bucket.

So far, in it's 3 weeks of existence, it been holding water really good but I will keep watching closely for drying out. Ive seen it suggested to cut a small hole in the bucket lid and put it back on, then water the plant through the hole in the lid. This helps prevent the water from evaporating.

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Offline WooferHound

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Oh Crap ! !
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2012, 04:51:33 pm »
I was seeing that I needed to quickly raise my plant to a higher position or it would be touching the ground soon. So I made a rope sling for it and got the ladder out and proceeded to try and move the heavy thing to a new hanging point that was 7 feet (2m) high. Well . . . my rope sling was not of the best design and the bucket and plant fell 7 feet to the ground breaking the plant into 3  unrecoverable pieces.

Determined to have a upside-down tomato plant this year ,  I immediately replanted another spare plant that was growing from old compost in the garden. The rope sling was modified and I got it all hung from the high position on the side of my greenhouse.

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Here are some pictures from when I watered it all in and it's still dripping from that. I had made a few mistakes the first time I planted it and was able to correct for that this time around.

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When I dug the roots of the old plant out of the dirt, I noticed that the roots are not growing down, but more to the sides horizontally and even growing up towards the top of the bucket?
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Offline kensue49

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 05:05:14 pm »
Woof,
Our hanging basket for the tomato plant had a 2" foam rubber ring that the plant hung from.
It helped retain soon water but this time of year it was not enough.
Kenneth

Offline bj

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2012, 05:47:22 pm »
   Well Woof, you've convinced me.  It's on next years must do list.  I can see an advantage in that
the biggest problem with tomatoes here is ground temp.  The end of June before the soil really warms up.
   Things like peas that like cool roots do very well though.
   Thanks for the idea
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Offline Volvo farmer

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2012, 06:47:55 pm »
If you're pulling volunteers out of the compost heap, are you only growing heirlooms? I've heard hybrids won't breed true to their original characteristics from seed.

Offline Tritium

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2012, 07:09:18 pm »
A 1/2 gallon per hour dripper will work very well with one of these to keep it moist all the time. Just put it on a timer to run about 3 times a day for an hour.

Thurmond

Offline Wolvenar

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2012, 09:33:52 pm »
I did this a couple years back as well, I was not impressed.

Watering was a many multi time a day thing.
Though it grew faster at first, the normally planted ones outpaced it quickly.
The normal ones also produced MUCH more.

I guess my conclusion is, they are nice if you have no other way, and if rig a self watering system.
Not something I intend to repeat while I have alternatives.
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Offline kurt

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2012, 11:11:52 am »
woofer do you know that if you accidentally break the stem off a tomato plant you can just bury as much of the broken off stem in fertile soil water in well and most the time it will reroot itself?? if you want to get picky you can get some "rooting powder" for $10 dip the end in that before you plant it or use some stale milk if you like. but it works often enough with nothing at all that is is worth a shot.

actually you can clone your tomato plants the same way just take a cutting and plant it in good soil keep it watered until it starts to grow. some people like to carefully shave the skin off the part you want to root with a razor before planting, use rooting powder, etc. but it works quite often just sticking it in the ground and watering it in.

works for most plants in the nightshade family.
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Offline jlt

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2012, 12:14:29 pm »
I did grow 2 of those last year . One of the stems broke from the wind . and the other one had some tomatoes on it but not as many as the one planted next to it in a 5 gallon bucket setting on the ground.

 THe upside down one had to be watered twice as often.

In my opinion they are not worth the trouble.  JLT

Offline WooferHound

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2012, 01:14:00 pm »
It's been 3 weeks since I replanted my new Upside-down tomato plant. The new plant is doing much better than the previous plant that I accidentally destroyed. It's probably doing good because it was a bigger plant to start with, and it is planted "deeper" in the bucket with the rootball near the top surface of the soil.

The growing roots and weight of all the dirt and water is making the plastic bucket expand, this is causing the dirt to settle lower and the sides of the bucket are expanding at the top away from the soil. this is making it easy for water to bypass the topsoil and trickle down the sides instead of soaking through the dirt. I really need to wrap some wire or something around the bucket to stop this expansion from getting worse.

Y'all are right about it needing more water, I water this plant twice as often as my ground based garden. When I planted it, I used potting soil to cover the plant, then topped it off with my regular Clay dirt. This seems to create a hard seal at the surface and helps prevent too much evaporation while still letting the water seep through.

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It's interesting to see how the plant behaves as it is still trying to grow Up. I have a few tomatoes already getting started, one of them is about the size of a quarter. Member jlt said he lost some plants to the wind, I had a storm blow through 2 weeks ago that had me concerned that it may get broken but it came out just fine. Seems that it still needs some kind of tomato cage.

Kurt mentioned that you can easily root tomato cuttings. I was wondering if I could center a tomato plant in the bucket of dirt with leaves and stems coming out both above the dirt and below the bucket. Could I get the same plant to grow out of the top -and- the bottom?

Of course this is just an experiment, I have backup, If it doesn't produce enough tomatoes, there are 11+ more plants in the ground and now starting to produce some rosey red soup starters.

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Offline mobile_bob

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Re: Trying to grow Upside-Down Tomatoes
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2012, 07:09:59 pm »
only on topic because it is about tomato's

last year was i think the 2nd hottest year in recorded history here, and almost everyone lost their tomato's.

one that had excellent results watered them an hour before work in the am, an hour at lunch break and another hour at night before bed... he had enormous plants and more tomato's than anyone had ever seen.

lesson learned by me, tomato's like water, and the hotter it is the more they like, so .... its started out this spring to be overly warm again
and i have been watering the crap out of them.

not satisfied i fertilized with 13/13/13 from coop, a nice size handful scraped into the soil of each plant... everyone told me it would burn them down!  it didn't.... so i waited a couple weeks and did it again, and then 2weeks i repeated the process... no damage nice dark green plants that were growing like hell...

so i got a problem in that there is no walking room between the plants, it is a forest of plants and blooms, so i read up on pruning and went at it for 4 days straight, and when i was done they looked like death warmed over... night quite charlie browns xmas tree but close.

three days later they exploded!  now about a week and a half later they are back to being a solid jungle, now nearly 6 ft tall, and loaded with tomato's.

its as if i pissed them off and they are going to bury me!

i got 71 plants, everything from hybrids to heirlooms, cherry to slicers, modern to old world germans, and they all responded the same.

my soil is mostly clay, hardly any humus, first year in over two decades since broken out of sod, so i can't say it is the soil.

next year i will be planting maybe 10 plants, it is turning out to be more of a project in forest management and not a hobby anymore.

this is my first garden in about 30 years too.

so what have i learned?
i like 13/13/13 fertilizer, lots of water, and heavy pruning.

still got over three months before first frost! 

anyone needing tomato's stop on by

bob  g