I’ve seen these upside-down tomato growing contraptions around for a couple years now, but somehow they just didn’t capture my imagination. Growing tomatoes upside down? Why bother? Either grow them in the ground, the way they were meant to be grown, or not at all.
The problem is that for me, it’s been “not at all.” I live so close to the ocean that it’s always cool and foggy. Even in the warmest summer months, temps rarely reach 75. It’s just impossible to grow tomatoes in this kind of fog. Also, this area just seems naturally prone to all kinds of soil-borne diseases that affect tomatoes. Even if I nurse the plants along and get big green fruit, the whole plant turns black and wilts away before anything ripens. Heartbreaking, because I used to love growing tomatoes. Now I have to content myself with cabbage and potatoes–not nearly as much fun.
But last weekend at the San Francisco Garden Show, the people selling these Topsy Turvy hang-your-tomatoes-upside-down contraptions really had their sales pitch fine-tuned for people who garden in the fog. The advantages were easy to see:
1. No contact with the dirt means much less likelihood of soil-borne diseases.
2. Hanging the plant upside-down helps with air circulation, again cutting down on disease.
3. Easier to position the plant in a place where it will get full sun. Mine are going against a south-facing fence that is never in the shade.
4. Fill the bag with the absolute best potting soil money can buy. Add worm castings and really fabulous organic fertilizer. Then you continue to fertilize and add water from the top, which is actually the base of the root system, where the plants need it the most.
See? This is kind of cool, isn’t it? I bought two.
Well, it’s my last resort. I haven’t planted tomatoes in a couple of years, figuring it was cheaper and less heartbreaking to just buy them at the farmers market. But here I go again. Now, what should I try? I’m thinking about cramming a Sungold and yellow pear together into one and growing a big fabulous Brandywine or Black Krim in the other.
I found the Topsy-Turvy planters for sale online at Gardeners Supply Company–follow this link and they’ll give you 15% off.