Make Virtually Free Hanging Planters/Upside Down Tomatoes





Introduction: Make Virtually Free Hanging Planters/Upside Down Tomatoes

About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

Using a technique I learned several years ago, this instructable shows how to make almost free hanging planters. I wanted to try the upside down technique for tomatoes that seem to be the rage this year. There are many instructables on this aspect, of course, so I decided to slant this tutorial in the direction of nearly free planters. I use small baskets here, but you can use the large clothes basket with a larger trash bag as a liner. Don't plan on hanging these. So for apartment dwellers, or anyone with limited space, you can have a garden with as many varieties of plants as you have room for.

Step 1: Materials Needed/used:

For the planters used in this instructable, I selected the white basket type that I purchased at the dollar store. Then I needed one plastic bag that we all have too many of, and a few pieces of chain, a few s hooks, and a chain link.

Step 2: Cut a Hole in the Plastic Bag and Basket

See picture. The hole is cut so that it is in the center of the basket when pressed into place. Through this hole I will insert the tomato plants that I bought for this purpose. I forgot to take a picture of the hole I made in the bottom...I just used a chisel, placed the basket on a piece of 2x4, and gently cut a hole about 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter.

Step 3: Press Tomato Plant Through Hole

My plants came in jiffy pots, so I just needed to trim the excess material off, gently force the plant through the holes in the basket and liner, respectively. When in place, I added potting soil around the root ball so as to anchor the plant in place, and fill up the basket. It helped when doing this to place the basket on top of a coffee can, with the plant hanging down without being crushed or damaged as I filled the basket.

Step 4: Drill Holes in Rim of Basket

Holes are drilled in the rim so that an "S" hook can be inserted in the hole and be used to suspend the basket from the support piece. I made holes for three chain/hooks so that the basket is evenly suspended when hung up on the support post.

Step 5: Hang Baskets on Support

Ready to hang: I have a support made out of a 4x4 placed in concrete. I use these every year for various hanging planters, containing annuals of varying varieties. This year, of course, for this post, I chose to try the upside down tomato gig. I wanted to see if indeed there is any increase in production, if there is protection from the insects normally associated with tomatoes, and if it is practical at all. Time will tell.

Step 6: July 6 Update!

Here is the upside down basket of tomatoes this date. My conclusions: Tomatoes are great. I think this is a successful experiment, and was fun doing. However, overall, I feel that any added benefits from this method are outweighed by just a few disadvantages. 1: since the root ball is contained in such a small area, more often watering was required. 2. Eventually, the weight of the plant and fruit combined might cause the whole thing to crash to the ground. 3. Not that esthetically pleasing. 4. the old "in the ground" method has been around a lot longer, and with a little care, always works! What do you think? Cman



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    14 Discussions

    I actually made one of these a couple of years ago. My problem was that a sudden rain/wind storm came along and since the tomato plant was hanging upside down, the wind sheared the damned thing right off at its base. I think a good thing to do when you're making this is to cut a "sleeve" or some other protector for the plant or vine base that's removeable, so that you can change it out as the plant grows. Some materials I've considered doing this with range from the upper bottleneck half of a large water bottle or two liter bottle (and then just use a saw or exacto to slice it down the middle on one side), one of those foam water noodles cut to size, etc. You can also get tree protectors at the local DIY store, but then that just defeats the TRUE DIY ethic, doesn't it?

    3 replies

    I'm going to wire a tomato cage to the bottom of the container. This way as the plant grows you can manipulate the branches through the cage so it doesn't grow so wild looking. Most importantly, it will stabilize the plant to avoid breakage.

    kirnex, why did the plants shear off, when the "upright" versions wouldn't? Were the stems weaker because they weren't asked to support the weight vertically?

    Maybe, instead of "sleeve protectors" for the stems, you could simply tie a guy line from the plant base to a stake below, so the plant wouldn't swing in the wind, torquing the stem until it broke. Dunno; maybe I'm not even understanding what happened.

    Good question! I think my problem was actually a combination of factors.

    1) When I chose to plant, and fertilize. I planted the upright plant, grown from seed, at 8-10 inches, rather than 3-4", which I think would have been preferable. I fertilized using an organic, foliar agent which tends to, if done at certain points in development, a lanky, long plant that is also top-heavy (kind of like a massive growth-spurt occuring in a wimpy plant, really). Had I chosen at that point to prune and shape the plant (to minimize the lankiness, and create a bushier plant), that would have been best.

    2) The geography of my backyard probably has a LOT to do with it. Not only am I on a corner lot where both the north and south sides are openly exposed (due to where the houses on the side and in back of us are located) but due to the fact we live on the East Coast (Virginia Beach), we had to elevate our patio structure (which takes up 3/4 of my back yard) 4 feet to account for hitting water at 3 feet when putting in our pool and patio. This created not only a significant grade adjustment for the remaining part of our yard not covered by patio, but since our neighbors' yards and the street are upwards of 4 feet lower than ours, we are at the apex of the area, and I think the already strong wind-gusts we get (especially during the growing season, which just happens to also be during hurricane season) are amplified. We get pretty hefty winds, anyhow, being so close to the ocean. We've had issues with heavy patio furniture ending up in the pool (during "regular" storms), and the like. In fact, I don't know anyone who grows tomatoes without using a cage for support around here. And even though I hung my tomato plant against an 6 foot privacy fence facing south, it obviously wasn't enough shelter.

    I DO love this project, and think that hanging the plant IS superior to ground-growing (at least in the way of avoiding ground-pests and animals), and I love your idea about the guy-line. I think when I plant again, I am going to combine your idea (and make it removeable, with a hook and ring contraption so that I can bring the plant inside for severe storms) with proper pruning, and the sleeve if needed. That ought to eliminate the problem--and if it doesn't, maybe I'm just not meant to grow tomatoes.

    How tall is the 4x4 post you are using, and how deep is it buried in the ground/concrete?

    "Not that esthetically pleasing"

    Are you serious? This looks fantastic!!!

    I use a hanging tomato plant, here, to keep it away from rats, mice, and shrews that ate my first crop of tomatoes. They would wait until the fruit ripened, then eat half of it. Now, I have one plant in a container and two hanging plants. The hanging Romas are going great. The other plant suffered a setback, but it is starting to bloom, now. Ditto on using some container to shield the plant when you fill the cavity with soil. I used an old plant container that one of my larger plants came in. It worked great. It fully supported my hanging planter and shielded my tomato plant from breakage. I see you used the top of the planter for marigolds. It looks good and keeps bugs away, too!

    Cool! Look forward at the end of season with "results" pictures Thanks for cool idea!

    ivwheeler hints; While this is late in the growing season, I like all the ideas I've seen on this whole page. I might just mention if we're going to the diy/gardening store why not use the wire basket with peat lining as many growers use for flowering plants, and just cut a hole in the bottom for the veggie plant and fill with planting medium of our choice, again as with flowering plants. I've seen, not done, the method I'm mentioning here, but the growers were easily adding plants through the edges and around the top. Happy gardening!!!

    Excellent idea! You could even spray-paint the basket. I hear that red makes for better tomato production, but I would use black or terracotta spray paint (maybe textured type?) and a black garbage bag. You could also use the holes in the sides to put annuals or herbs in, like nasturtiums, basil, etc.

    Excellent idea! Please please please update this at the end of season with "results" pictures & comments!

    EXCELLENT idea of using the small baskets. Great & cheap with the plastic bag liner. I was also looking for an easy method to have small holes in the side of hanging basket for multiple strawberries - your idea will work beautifully. To help keep the overall weight down & help keep moisture in soil - use 1/3 to 1/2 PERLITE mixed with the planting soil. Also, cover the top of the container with something to help retain moisture -- card board, old cloth, other small plants. Now, to see if production REALLY is better upside down - put one plant in the basket & one plant as you usually grow it. Some growing seasons are better then others & this will show if upside-down is a good growing method or just a good season.

    1 reply

    Thanks schworak: I like your ideas, have used some, but not all. Hey, the strawberries idea is an excellent thought...might try that (why didn't I think of that before.thanks again. Cman

    I had this very idea a few days ago after seeing the ad for the topsyturvy thing. Good job.