Gardening | 13 October 2015Plant Tomatoes Upside-Down in a 5-Gallon Bucket Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Have you ever planted tomatoes in an upside-down planter? It’s easy to do, and when you use Chris Peterson’s how-to project in his 5-Gallon Bucket Book, you’ll be amazed at how sturdy the classic 5-gallon bucket can be! (A word to the wise: you’ll want to hang them from very sturdy rafters.) An upside-down tomato planter made from a 5-gallon bucket. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Crazy as it might at first sound, hanging your tomato plants upside down offers a lot of benefits over planting them in the garden. Unlike in the garden, hanging locations usually have abundant direct sunlight because other garden plants aren’t competing for the light and shading your tomato plants. Getting the plants up off the ground also gets them away from many diseases and pests that can decimate your delicious crop. A hanging location ensures plenty of air circulation and puts the plants right in the line of sight, where it’s easy to detect any potential problems before they get out of hand. Letting gravity sort things out also means that you don’t need to provide support for the plant as it fruits—no cages or stakes. Another big plus is that you water from the top and then water and nutrients are drawn naturally down to the roots. Lastly, say goodbye to weeding with an upside-down planter. Beyond the practical, upside-down tomato plants are a visually interesting addition that—coupled with a painted and perhaps stenciled bucket—add to the look of the house or yard, wherever they’re being hung. Be aware that topsy-turvy gardening does present a few modest challenges. You have to be absolutely certain that the hook and structure from which you hang the planter can support not only the weight of the bucket when newly planted, but also the weight of a mature plant heavy with fruit and a bucketful of wet soil. Watering can also be difficult for shorter gardeners, and you should be careful to site the planter where water leaking out of the hole in the bottom isn’t going to cause a problem. That said, try this style of gardening with your tomato crop, and chances are that you’ll see the opportunity for other edibles. Although you can use this planter for a variety of tomatoes, from heirloom to cherry (it is generally not appropriate for larger varieties such as beefsteak), it’s also a wonderful way to grow squash, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, and even mini varieties of eggplant. In fact, you may find yourself creating an entire garden hanging from your porch rafters! What You’ll Need for an Upside-Down Tomato Planter Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Expense: $ TOOLS: Sharpie Utility knife 2″ hole saw Cordless drill and 1″ spade bit MATERIALS: 5-gal. bucket with tight-fitting lid (preferably one with an integral gasket) Landscaping fabric 5 gal. potting soil Tomato plant ½” eyebolt Gallon milk jug or plastic liter bottle How to Make an Upside-Down Tomato Planter Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Use the bottom of the bucket as a template to draw a circle with the Sharpie on the landscaping fabric. Cut out the circle with the utility knife. Use the hole saw to make a 2″-diameter hole in the center of the bucket’s bottom. Line the bottom of the bucket with the circle of landscaping fabric. Fill the bucket with potting soil, and secure the lid in place, making sure that it’s fastened tight. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Turn the bucket upside down and use the utility knife to slice an X in the landscape fabric covering the bottom hole. Push the root ball of the tomato plant down into the potting soil, and press firmly around the stem of the plant. Screw the eyebolt into the overhang of a shed or the house, or horizontally into a fence post or other solid, secure support. Hang the bucket right-side up by its handle. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Cut the milk jug or liter bottle in half crosswise. Use the spade bit to make a hole in the center of the bucket lid. Push the neck of the jug down into the soil. Use the jug to add water to the plant on a regular schedule. As an alternative, run a drip irrigation line into the hole. You can also leave the bucket lid off if you prefer, and the plant may grow stems out of the top (although you risk losing dirt to wind or having animals dig in it). ————————————————- 5-Gallon Bucket Book Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: About 5-Gallon Bucket Book: Why just reuse a bucket when you can reinvent it? Five-gallon buckets are ubiquitous and cheap (indeed, they are often free). But did you know they can also be hacked, hot-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY projects for homeowners, gardeners, small-scale farmers, and preppers? 5-Gallon Bucket Book contains 60+ ideas that put these humble and hard-working mainstays to work past their prime and keep them out of landfills. Simple step-by-step instructions, as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects, make sure you will have fun and love the results of your work. Projects include perfect additions to your yard and garden, tools to care for your animals, useful innovations, handy home helpers, and even family-oriented designs! They range from simple things such as chicken feeders to much more complex projects (small room air conditioner, anyone?). For anyone who doesn’t already have fifteen of them cluttering up the garage, 5-Gallon Bucket Book also offers advice on where to get cheap and free buckets and how to tell if a bucket is safe to use for food. About the Author: Chris Peterson is a veteran home improvement and design author living in Ashland, Oregon. Among the many books he has written for Cool Springs Press and other publishers are Building with Secondhand Stuff, Manskills, four books in the Ideas You Can Use series, and many Black & Decker Complete Guides. He has also authored several books in the food and cooking area and he has co-authored numerous home design books with noted media celebrities. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.