I've been making these for the past couple years and people often ask me how I do it. Today I decided to document my method for creating these wonderful, space-saving planters that let you grow delicious tomatoes in the tiniest of spaces.
The design is simple: it's basically a hanging planter with a hole cut into the bottom and a tomato plant pushed through the hole. On the top of the planter you can put anything you want: flowers, herbs, or other small plants. I'm using oregano, because it can be easily grown in a pot this size, and it makes a wonderful seasoning for the tomatoes in a fresh garden salad.
The tomatoes I'm using are a variety called "Supersweet 100". I've grown these for the past few years and they are just delicious -- sweet & tart with a crisp bite. They aren't very big, about the diameter of a penny, but that's fine for our purposes. Smaller tomatoes do better in these planters than larger ones, which require more soil and space. Also, larger tomatoes tend to sag towards the ground, which puts stresses on the stem of the plant.
Properly watered and cared for, a planter like this can yield a great harvest. Last year I picked over 150 tomatoes from a single plant! And you can reuse the planter year after year!
Regarding planting time, you should follow the instructions that come with the plant, usually located on the back of the little plastic tag that indicates the variety. The nice thing about these planters, however, is that if you start them a little early you can just hang them inside until it's time to bring them outside.
Step 1: What You'll Need
You will need:
A pair of scissors.
A 10x10" square of peat paper (also known as mulch paper). If you don't have peat paper, or don't want to buy a 50' roll of the stuff for just this little project, you can use a paper coffee filter (even a used one will work if you dry it out).
A knife or wire clippers to cut out the bottom of the plastic planter. I'm using my Leatherman (not shown), because I use it all the time.
A hanging planter with an inverted frustrum at the bottom. This is an important feature, because it traps water and keeps the soil from washing out through the hole.
A tomato plant -- any grape or cherry variety will do. I'm using the 'Supersweet 100" small cherry variety.
An herb plant -- I'm using Golden Oregano, though you could also use basil, thyme, or even small flowers. Any plant with a root system that stays close to the surface will do.
Topsoil -- Choose a good one. I use MiracleGro Organic Choice for my potted plants, though pretty much any enriched quality topsoil will work.