Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hanging Tomatoes

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!).


Trisha said...

I like this idea.
When you say... plant deep... and they are now upside down... does this mean the majority of dirt should be on the top of the plant in the basket or underneath the plant in the basket?!

Oh and what plants/seeds did you send me home with at Easter? John didn't ask. (I still have plants for you... tiny things... I'll keep them growing til I see you next... surely by planting dates in late May.)


Serafina said...

Well, when I think of planting tomatoes deep, really what I mean is that you bury the the majority of the leaves. If a plant is 6 or 8 inches tall it might have 3 or 4 pairs of leaves, and you would bury the first 2 or 3 sets of leaves, and only have the very top set sticking out of the dirt. So it doesn't really matter in the hanging basket how much dirt is on top of the plants (unless you're going to plant something in the top of the basket) but how much of the stalk of the plant is covered by the dirt (all the leaves but the top pair or so).

I sent you with two random heirloom tomatoes, they could be any of the ones from the Gurney's page that I linked to in the post, and two random sweet peppers (you can find them on Gurney's site as well), and the eggs had purple beans growing in them, also I think there were some purple bean seeds. also, maybe regular lawn grass was growing in one of the eggs too.