Date: 10 April 2017. Upside Down
Tomato Plant How-To.
At anchor I always crave produce.
I want to grow my own salads aboard Seaweed. Lentils are *easy to
sprout and a part of my diet. Tomatoes would be a lovely addition to my salad
bowl. Upside down tomato planters such as the
Amazon appealed to me. The price did not. Here's how I did something
similar for a whole lot less money.
Growing Lentil Sprouts
article for details.
Hanging basket planter (I have also seen these in
Dollar General discount stores)
Coffee filters (one required)
Coconut basket liner
A bag of potting soil.
One small tomato plant. I chose a
cherry tomato variety figuring smaller tomatoes would a
better size for my salads
You will also need the
netting from a bag of fruit.
A big part of the push to grow my own tomatoes is because I want to
be as self-sufficient as possible. If I can grow a salad without
having to go into town that has definite appeal. Independence is
important to my happiness quotient.
I simply prefer my
own little world aboard Seaweed.
It is calm, peaceful and so restful. Truly I am blessed.
When growing up aboard our 40'er back in the late 50's and 1960's we
did not have refrigeration. Fresh produce was a rare commodity.
Salads were something I craved. I used to cut out pictures of tossed
salads and steaks from magazines. Rabbit food was a treat way back when.
It still is today.
One option for many is to
planter for tomatoes. I will admit it is a pretty nifty item.
What appeals most to me
is that I could potentially grow a lot of tomatoes in a small
footprint. There is not a lot of room aboard a 23' boat. This
could work for me.
Upside Down Tomato Planter
Though a spiffy product, the Topsy
Turvy runs $20 retail. I have seen knock-off's for half that.
I can do better than that. All told, for about $6 I have made my own.
Here is how:
First head to a Dollar Tree store. The discount
stores (Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.) have similar products
though the cost may be higher. Buy a hanging basket planter and a
coconut husk basket liner.
The polyester line that comes with hanging
baskets deteriorates quickly in the sun. Plan on replacing it
with approximately ten feet of 1/8" braided nylon.
Using a 1 1/2" paddle bit, drill a hole in the
DO NOT DO AS I DID!
I flipped my basket upside down
and drilled. Without support the drill bit cracked the bottom. It made a mess.
Instead, what I should have done was put the planter on a flat
surface and drilled down. If I had drilled it on a board that
cracking would not have happened.
The hole would be round and
pretty if I had drilled correctly. As is, the planter is Good
Enough. With the tomato plant in the basket no one will ever know.
Next I put a coffee filter up to
the cracks and traced the pattern. I did the same with the coconut
husk liner. With scissors I cut the filter and coconut so that my
plant could be pulled through that jagged hole.
Side Note: Some online reviewers
mentioned dirt falling out the bottom of their upside down planters.
I did not want that to happen aboard Seaweed. Recommendations
included using a coffee filter or a coconut liner. I opted for both.
Next slide your plant (pot first) into the net from a bag of fruit.
I should have removed the plastic from the pot before
sliding it into the bag.
The net will protect the tomato plant while you pull it
coffee filter, coconut liner and then the bottom of your hanging basket.
Finally cut and pull away the netting you used to
pull the plant through.
So far my upside down plant is
doing okay. I had one flower on it when purchased. The day after I
pulled it through my basket another flower appeared. Both fell off.
No new ones have blossomed since then.
A few days after the transplant
into my basket the tomato's leaves looked wilted. They seem to wilt
and plump up with semi-regularity. I'm not an expert at this by any
means. On the other hand, I've not killed it yet so who knows? One
of these days I may eat the most expensive tomato on the planet.
I am no expert and have made a lot of
mistakes in my garden efforts.
The last one was filled with little icky bugs. They swarmed! Ugh.
To resolve that a
gal at Walmart recommended Neem Oil.
I like that it kills bugs. Better living through
chemistry and all that... Have I mentioned that I hate bugs?!? I
really really do not like them at all. They give me the creeps.
Walmart sold a
ready-to-use version of the Neem Oil Extract I purchased. The
one I chose is a 70% concentrate. I have to mix it with water.
Neem Oil Extract must be diluted. That is
okay except I am old as dirt and the writing on containers
nowadays is much smaller than it was twenty or forty years
My solution is to
read carefully then mark my bottles with the instructions in
By making notes on the bottle I am prepared to make
the next batch. It's a simple enough thing. I use my permanent
Sharpie pen often to help me remember stuff.
A problem I had before was bugs in my plants. I have been spraying
diluted Neem onto the leaves and in the dirt. A couple days ago I saw a
fruit fly. I am worried I will get another infestation. Does anyone
have a different product that will kill everything but me?
I have tried the Joy dish detergent routine. That did not work. I used Raid
flying insect killer. Lots of carcasses but more bugs. I think that
was an aphrodisiac for the dang beasties. Last time the bugs got so
bad I gave them all swimming lessons. I did not know those little
white worms in my soil were fruit fly larvae. UGH.
It was awful. Truly awful.
Swimming lessons means I threw the plants and bugs
into the water. I am still shuddering from that fiasco.
Greenery makes me happy.
The tomatoes and the rest of my garden planters are in the cockpit.
It is screened though not tightly. My screening is not fancy. The
process is described in the
Often the pilothouse doors are wide open. Also, I
backed up to
mangroves so there is a lot of wildlife about, including
I am definitely not an expert at
this stuff. Learning about how to best grow a salad fascinates me. I
those with real skill. One such person is Jean of Lily Maria. She
inspired me. Her tomatoes were magnificent.
Someday I hope my garden is as prolific as hers. Wish me luck!
I'd love to hear what you do to prevent bugs in your
And, what are you growing this year?
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