Growing tomatoe plants upside down

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Im fairly new to gardening, and this may be a stupid question, but how do you grow tomatoe plants upside down ? how does the plant and dirt stay in hanging upside down ? Also living in Washington state, would this be a good climate to grow them like this ? What is the best tomatoes for this area ?
thanks Ed
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My interpretation is that the plants are put into hanging pots and as they get larger, they drape over the edge and grow down.
--
Susan N.

"Moral indignation is in most cases two percent moral, 48 percent indignation,
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Ed wrote:

I don't know. I posted what I thought that it was and asked for info in the original thread. Maybe someone will answer there.
-- Steve
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From my understanding, you cut a small hole in the bottom of your planter with the plant snuggly planted "upside down" ...

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The newspaper here did a series on this last summer. As I recall they used the big 5 gallon plastic buckets like paint comes in. They drilled a big hole in the bottom of the bucket. Covered it with landscape fabric. Filled the bucket with potting soil. Hammered the lid on. Turned the bucket upside down, cut an "X" in the fabric and planted the tomato seedling. After the plant had grown to a particular size the bucket was turned over to hang by the handle and the lid was removed for ease of watering.
The method has been around for quite a while. I should think you could find more detailed directions on the web if you wanted them.
marcella
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Marcella, that is the way, that I have been told it was done. I guess it is the lazy way to plant a small bunch of Tomatoes, without having to stake them. I was wondering if any one had success with this way. Mikael

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il 23 Feb 2005 05:21:26 -0800, "Ed" ha scritto:

It all seems a bit strange to me. All plants react to factors on Earth. One is light/dark and another is gravity. The roots grow down - away from light and reacting to gravity, water etc. Tomatoes will grow towards light and if not staked, the gravity (their weight) will pull them down while they struggle upwards vainly. The disadvantage on flat ground is that the slugs love the tomatoes at ground level. So staking helps keep 'em off the soil and towards light. (Next year I'll stake mine) If one lets them trail down below pot level I imagine what you'd need to do is support the trusses, otherwise the weight of the plant growth will cause the stem to break or pull the plant out of the soil (which doesn't have to be upside down! - we are not in space) You could probably even espalier the tomato plant.
Notwithstanding all that. I once planted an apple seed and wondered why it looked so strange growing - I pulled it out - It was totally upside down, with it's leaves opening under the soil. So much for those lectures I'd been attending about plant cell growth!
--
Cheers,
Loki [ Brevity is the soul of wit. W.Shakespeare ]
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professor many many years ago... I was in charge of taking care of the greenhouse for the botany class and keeping up with a planting schedule, as well as weeding and keeping the greenhouse clean and organized. I got paid $3.00 per hour for doing it. (I was 17 so that was 25 years ago!)
Anyway, I had to plant a bunch of peanuts in a low, flat planter. After a few days, they looked really odd! Dr. Newkirk came by and I asked him about it, and he immediately noted that I'd planted them upside down. We then "dissected" a peanut so he could show me the seed anatomy. <G>
He had me turn them all right side up and gently rinse the baby leaves off, then talk to the plants, apologize and re-assure them that everything was going to be ok now.... and he was quite serious about it. ;-)
Gods I learned SO much from that teacher and that job!!!
Hmmmmmm... speaking of greenhouses, the sun just came out. I need to get my butt out to Greenhouse #2 and get those baby rainbow chards into the outside planter before they die in those little 1" starter pots.......
--
K.

Sprout the Mung Bean to reply...

There is no need to change the world. All we have to do is toilet train the
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The recent thread in rec.gardens.edible about growing tomatoes upside down gave me reason to pause and think. In the mid 1960s, there was an article in Scientific American magazine about growing plants in a simulated zero-gravity environment doing nothing more than rotating the plant around three axes, rotating its position or orientation automatically with motors that were kept running on a 24 hour basis. I've long since lost or misplaced that copy of the magazine, but bagging a plant's root system, directing the growth of the stem, and allowing for constant reorientation of the plant as expected, ought to provide a means of growing the stem of the corn plant into all kinds of fanciful shapes like curlicues, pretzels, knots, and bows.
So, has anybody done this with corn yet? Does anybody have some pictures of corn growing upside down? Can corn be made to grow upside down, maybe by positioning a fluorescent light underneath it?
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You probably would not be able to grow corn upside down because gravitropism would cause the stem to bend back upward. Gravitropism is usually stronger than phototropism. If you had a mutant plant that did not respond to gravity, then you could do it. There are mutant pea plants (ageotropum) whose roots do not respond to gravity but its shoots do respond to gravity in the light.
There are many weeping plant cultivars (e.g. Sargent's weeping hemlock, weeping cherry, weeping willows, weeping beech, weeping mulberry, weeping crabapple, Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula', etc.) with branch tips that normally grow toward the force of gravity. Rooting cuttings from weeping branches might be an easy way of growing upside down plants.
A clinostat is a device that slowly rotates a plant, about 1 revolution per minute, and can prevent phototropism and gravitropism. The motion would be like sitting a potted plant on a record turntable and spinning it at a slower speed. If the potted plant is firmly attached to the clinostat and then the whole apparatus is placed so the potted plant is horizontal, then the plant should continue to grow straight. Both gravitropism and phototropism would be negated because the plant has no time to orient itself because it is constantly changing position relative to gravity and any directional light source.
Reference
Jaffe, M.J., Takahashi, H. and Biro, R.L. 1985. A pea mutant for the study of hydrotropism in roots. Science 230: 445-447.
David R. Hershey
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My father had a small elm-like tree once, the top part of which had been grafted upside down. He didn't believe this of course but the brances were definately pointed downwards and there was a grafting scar at the join. Instead of the umbrella shape he was hoping for he got a weird mutant!
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"Loki" wrote:

I think roots grow in a generalized direction out, with gravity maintaining a constant pull so there is a slight downward pull to their outward growth. Most seems to follow along the same guidelines that electricity follows... meaning they take the path of least resistance. Trees seem to have one main trunk that goes down and branches sprawling in all directions in the ground, and this would make sense, because resistance is low to start and as the main trunk dives deeper, the resistance increases, so the branches that sprawl outwards underneath get more water being near the surface, so there is a slight "hunger" to stay near the surface. An increase in the amount of area by the branches spreading out in the ground provides a mechanism to support the main trunk above the ground and provides a greater surface area to drink from.
One thing to keep in mind about this as well is that it's like diving, and the deeper you dive, the greater the pressure is on you. All that water above you has a weight and that weight is expressed as a pressure, psi (pounds per square inch). There is a limit to depth that you can dive, I don't know it is off the top of my head, because once you reach that depth, the pressure becomes so great that you could die from the compression. Submarines have a maximum depth they can travel, each type of fish have a maximum depth, and I imagine the same applies to the roots of trees.
I let some pigweed grow here and was interested in it's rooting. When I pulled it from the ground, the main trunk dove straight down. I let it grow to about 5 feet in height before I pulled it. The main root that dove straight down was the strongest and it only dove about a 16 inches at most. The main branches that came off it sprawled in all directions about 12 inches in every direction. I imagine the sprawl was actually greater, because those branches were a lot thinner than the main trunk and they decreased in size and strength farther out. They broke at the outer lengths. Those branches in the ground are what provided the support for the height.
I think the factors that control rooting are: 1) There is a slight pull from gravity, 2) Thirst for water means there is a sprawl away from the main stem, 3) Rain being a source of water provides the most effect (in the beginning) at the surface and that effect decreases the deeper you get, UNLESS you have an underground supply of water. In the latter case, it will be water plants that would flourish. 4) As far as tomatoes go, they seem to love a RICH WET soil and they seem to love a bottom fed water supply. I'm having great success with four plants in a clay pot (1 quart), which I keep in a bowl and I keep the bowl filled with water. It's kept in the shade of a tree it's got some stakes for support and fence nearby that I'm hanging the longer vines upon.
I don't know whats right or what's wrong, but the tomatoes seem to be very happy.
With tomatoes being set upside down, there is still that pull down on their branches in the dirt. Once they hit a wall, the roots would tend to grow away from the wall or along the traveling in the path of least resistance. If the least resistance happens to be up, the growth should grow up. I think I can almost argue that light has nothing to do with root growth, other than it's light that does whatever it does with chlorophyl or whatever it is. The nutrients are drawn from the soil and light does something with chlorophyl. Thus the greenery is up top where the light is, and I don't quite have a grasp of what actually makes the roots work, some kind of energy created by a thirst for water and the leaves up top.
I don't know how much of what I said is 100% fact. It's all just my own thoughts on root growth. Don't take it at face value. I found it interesting and thought I'd leave some of my own thoughts on it.
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to newsgroup.
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Ed wrote:

Ed,
It works. I bought an upside-down planter from an online gardern site and got over 2 dozen tomatoes in 8 weeks. There's a foam insert in the bottom that keeps the dirt from coming out. It's a bit of a pain to set it up (it's heavy once loaded with wet soil). But once it's hung, it's easy to maintain. Once the plant is established, you have to water it every day.
Overall, it's a good technique for those without good soil or a tiny backyard.
As for your area, there are many varieties that do well in the northern climes. I suggest a google search on cool climate tomatoes. Also, I'm sure your local nurseries know what works in your area.
Chris
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Since tomato blight is a common problem in our state, one of the advantages of growing them upside down is that they may be easier to keep ventilated and from moisture staying on them, encouraging these problems.

For growing upside down, or for simply growing?
Right side up, any of the early fruiting types (Willamette Spring, Early Girl, etc.) are recommended. Otherwise, you may not get red ones until September.
--
Warm Regards,

Claire Petersky
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I tried the upside down tomato in a 5-gallon bucket last summer after seeing an article in Organic Gardening. Everytime I'd water, the water would drip down onto the stem and leaves and the result was instant disease. Did I just set it up wrong?
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I can see the problem: your plant's stem is emerging from the lowest point in the pot, and that's where excess water will drain to. Not good!
How about taking a standard pot or bucket and gluing a half-inch length of wide-bore hose inside around the drain hole to raise it above the pot's base and using PLENTY of glue to ensure the join is watertight. Now, to allow excess water to drain, you'll need to make a new hole in the base and I suggest drilling it nearer the edge of the base. Water will down drip out of this new hole instead of the original centre one, and to stop it dripping onto the foliage you could attach a short length of plastic hose to channel the water down through the plant. Don't poke the hose into the hole, but glue it all the way around it outside the pot. Cover the opening over the hose with nylon flyscreen to keep potting mix out.
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | XX XX | |___ ________XX XX_______________| | | | | | |
When you water the plant, water around the perimeter of the pot so that water is not poured directly above the centre hole. Avoid overwatering.
Just a suggestion, not something I've tried.
--
John Savage (my news address is not valid for email)


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"Claire Petersky" wrote:

Anyone else find that tomatoes love to be bottom fed? I mean sitting a clay pot in a bowl and filling the bowl with water during the morning.
I've got four plants in a little 1qt clay pot that are doing just wonderful underneath a tree (they don't seem to like the Florida heat). I don't think the water is evaporating during the day too much, and the water is always gone by the start of evening. Could be squirrels coming by for a drink I imagine, though. I've got a few other tomato plants growing in the ground but they just don't seem to be growing like the ones in the clay pot. Maybe I'm only imagining it and have to give them another month ?
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to newsgroup.
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Jim Carlock wrote:

Based on my experience with potted tomatoes last year, I'd say your plants are taking in the water (not the squirrels). The fact that you have to fill the pot liner every day means your plants have a good root system. You may want to think of transplanting to a much larger pot. I tried 3 plants in a single 17" diameter pot last season and had great success.
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"Chris Thompson" wrote:

You mentioned the diameter of your pot with 3 plants as 17". the diameter at the top of my pot is maybe 6" or 7", maybe 8" deep.
I pulled my first caterpillar off a leaf yesterday. Yikes! The temp dropped with not much wind, and we did get a little rain. I'll post a pic of the pot in the binary group.
-- Jim Carlock Please post replies to newsgroup.
Jim Carlock previously asked: Anyone else find that tomatoes love to be bottom fed? I mean sitting a clay pot in a bowl and filling the bowl with water during the morning.
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http://www.minifarmhomestead.com/gardening/tomato.htm
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