I was looking at the upside down tomato planters at Big Lots the other day, and while the idea seemed like a good one, the execution left a lot to be desired aesthetically. Ugly is what they were. This is much more pleasant to look at and hopefully just as effective. You can hang it from a shepherd's hook by your porch even if you don't have much space.
First I found a couple of hanging baskets with coco liners just sitting on my planting bench, condos for spiders. If you buy them new they probably won't have any spiders in them. They are fairly cheap. Other things you need are some potting soil (or just some dirt) and of course, tomato plants. I ordered mine from Gurney's but there are plenty of places you can find them around here now that it is getting warmer. The Morgantown Farmers Market starts up this Saturday, and that's where Keith got my tomato plants last year.
Put an inch or two of soil in the bottom of your planter. Right above the soil line poke a hole where your tomato plant will stick out. Don't make it too big, but make it big enough to get a few leaves through. Make another hole on the opposite side of the basket. Lay the tomato plants in the basket like so, and gently coax the top set of leaves through the hole till they're poking out.
I have always heard that tomato plants like to be buried quite deep. When I transplanted these guys from their tiny tiny shipping pots, I buried them as deeply as the new pots would allow, and they really started growing like mad, so here they are again getting transplanted rather deeply.
Grandpa Lloyd used to plop a dead sunfish in the hole before planting his tomatoes, so if you have any dead fish lying around your garden shed then this would be a good place to put them. I, alas, had none handy, nor are there any fish in Decker's Creek for us to catch, so we are going without the dead fish here at this time.
Cover the plants up with a bunch more dirt. I planted basil seeds on the top of my basket, because I read somewhere that tomatoes and basil get along quite well. Or maybe I just made that up. Anyway, I expect it to look lovely and be handy if I want to make tomato salad. I guess you could also plant lettuce on top, or parsley, or whatever.
Please be advised that this arrangement will require some tomato food, as the plants are crammed kind of close together and will exhaust the nutrients in the dirt after a while. You can use some nice compost, if you have some, or plant food spikes. I use Miracle-Gro. It was good enough for my Grandpa, and I ate sun warm tomatoes right off the vine every summer from the time I was old enough to climb the hill to the garden - probably even before that. Maybe by next year I'll have learned how to make urban composting work (my compost heap didn't turn into beautiful rich soil over the winter, it looks like a pile of dessicated weeds and kitchen scraps!).