Upside Down Everything
May 23, 2010 5:41 AM   Subscribe

I mostly do square foot gardening, but this year I also planted some tomatoes upside down and strawberries sideways. They seem to be thriving so far.
posted by francesca too at 6:07 AM on May 23, 2010

I did the upside down tomatoes last year and the results were phenomenal. There are some challenges. Even with a very light potting mix the container is extremely heavy and requires a very solid support. I built a frame of schedule 40 steel pipe over my garden plot. These were the only tomato plants not snacked on by the critters.
posted by caddis at 6:11 AM on May 23, 2010

We get a lot of high winds here. As in gusts up to 60. I'm not sure these would survive. Gravity and stakes hold up my plants now. Isn't the main stalk exposed?
posted by lysdexic at 6:40 AM on May 23, 2010

A friend of mine tried this with mixed results and tomatoes. One of the links mentioned doing cukes upside down. I could be tempted to give it a shot if it reduces the threat of squash bugs. We're square-footing it this year for the first time, too. They're not really upside down, but I've been eyeballing potato towers, too, which are another space-saving approach. You don't dig a hole - you raise it up as time goes on. Potato plant keeps growing and making spuds. At season's end, you knock off one side and harvest them all.
posted by jquinby at 6:44 AM on May 23, 2010

I've grown cherry tomatoes upside down for the last three years, also with great results. This year I'm trying full-size tomatoes for the first time. Caddis is right; the pots can get very heavy. Mine are anchored to the exterior of the building I live in, which seems to be enough.

I can't recommend this method enough, even for people like me with the Black Thumb of Death. It seems to make growing tomatoes much easier. Plus you can do it in an apartment! No garden plot necessary.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 7:06 AM on May 23, 2010

I built 3 earthtainers three years ago.

I use them to grow tomatoes and habanero and jalapeno peppers. They are the rockingest system I've ever used (I used to do intensive, raised-bed gardening, but I don't have as big of a piece of land anymore), and I highly recommend going this route.

Last year, my tomato plants were over 12 feet tall.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:36 AM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]

Holy sh*t that is bananas!
posted by Betty Tyranny at 8:11 AM on May 23, 2010

I wonder if I get enough sun to do this inside my apartment - that would be awesome.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:41 AM on May 23, 2010

That Cajun guy reminds me of my late uncle. I miss him a lot.
posted by Michael Roberts at 9:26 AM on May 23, 2010

insectosaurus - you could also try this in your apartment: Window Farms. Mrs. starvingartist and I are thinking about trying it this year. I might also build one of those Earthtainers Benny Andajetz mentioned above for my front porch.
posted by starvingartist at 9:46 AM on May 23, 2010

The Window Farms look great - I'm now thinking about doing the "for beginners" one this summer. I've been wanting to grow a garden for years, but living in apartments with nowhere to do it.

I miss homegrown strawberries and tomatoes so much.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:24 AM on May 23, 2010

My boyfriend and I are currently trying to grow strawberries this way. It's been pretty cold this spring so I'm hoping they will do alright.
posted by realafterglow at 3:32 PM on May 23, 2010

Haven't they been growing stuff upside-down for hundreds of years in Australia already?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:35 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

dammit, Greg.
posted by jacalata at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2010

I was NOT impressed with the TopsyTurvy last year but the big bucket planters they're showing here -- now that, that might work...
posted by at 4:50 PM on May 23, 2010

We did the upside down tomatoes about 5 years ago and, frankly, they sucked. They were nearly inedible. Large, plump...sure. But about as tasty as wet sawdust and the consistency of day old oatmeal. Bleh. And I love tomatoes, just to be the point I was slavering over the thought of them as I finished building our small greenhouse.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 7:36 PM on May 23, 2010

I've been eyeballing potato towers, too

This year I took a a black plastic culvert, 18" across, and cut 1.5' lengths with a slit down on side...filled that will nice topsoil and aged horse manure. I'm hoping the 4 varieties of potatoes we've planted will go nuts. No "towers" per se, but raised up above the garden and there is soil to grow down into if they decide to go deep.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 7:40 PM on May 23, 2010

Oh, the other idea I am itching to try....get some strawbales, turn them on their side (pointy side up), then plant in amongst the straw and water normally. Instant raised beds, which compost all on their own as you water your garden.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 7:42 PM on May 23, 2010

swimming naked - planting potatoes under straw or hay works great - to harvest, pull the hay away, and all the potatoes will be sitting there on the ground to pick up. We got that trick from Organic Gardening back in the day and always did that when I was a kid.
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:16 PM on May 23, 2010

Wanna see my buckets? I hope they do well!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:10 PM on May 26, 2010

@ swimming naked when the tide goes out: Strawbaling is a proven concept, so you should be able to do it no problem. You can even add compost to them to hold the seedlings at first. They're great for stuff like carrots where they need soft soil.

posted by Quadlex at 9:18 PM on June 3, 2010

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