This article was written by Nicole Eckert, Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. Check out her holistic living blog: holisticole.com for amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Stay inspired by Nicole’s passion – follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole). BE vibrant.
How far did your fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs travel before ending up on your kitchen table?
While you’re thinking about where your source of nutrition is coming from – geographically, it’s also of value for us to look deeper into our foods story: how many processes did your source of nourishment undergo before you selected it in your local grocery store.
Was it sprayed with pesticides?
Is this a GMO crop?
Did it endure irradiation?
Was it washed with a chlorine solution?
Has a petroleum-based wax coating been applied?
How many people handled your food before you selected it?
These questions should really make us think. While in ways we are fortunate that farmers around the world have dedicated their life to producing crops to feed our ever growing population, our modern luxury of supermarkets has truly created a disconnect. We are now able to find all sorts of local and imported produce, tropical fruits and ethnic products, many of which are not native to our country. With the evolution of the supermarket and the import/export of food, the connection we should have to with our food has been lost, we don’t know where our food is really coming from and what has been done to it – as we were not a part of the growing process.
Many of us are aware of these points already, which leads us to the journey of choosing more organic, supporting local and even growing some of our own food.
What’s even better than choosing the organic and local selections that are available in-store, is taking part in the farm-to-table social movement. Create your health and wellness at home by growing your own food!
You don’t need a green thumb to grow your own produce, just some sunlight, water and love. One challenge that persists in backyard or even balcony gardening isn’t so much your ability to care for your producing plants; but finding the space.
While new agricultural technology now has us growing food underwater, there is an achievable new growing trend that can not only save you the space, but also minimize garden work, and also keep those hungry critters away!
GROW YOUR FOOD UPSIDE DOWN
While this is certainly an unusual method for gardening, it surprisingly has more ups than downs…
Upside down gardening saves space and is lower maintenance (no more weeds!) and one popular crop for this growing method is tomatoes.
Considering that this fruit has been genetically modified, and grocery store tomatoes are more similar to a sliced baseball in texture then the tender juicy fruit you were hoping for – this is a wonderful place to start with your next DIY project.
Let’s get started with this instructional video, for my visual learners! A written step-by-step guide is to follow:
GUIDE TO GROWING AN UPSIDE DOWN TOMATO PLANT
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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
A large 5-gallon bucket with a lid, or a specialty planter (although many people who want to re-purpose items they have at home have gotten away with using a 2-gallon or so water bottle)
One tomato seedling (see note below)
Organic fertilizer (or compost) – optional
Plastic window screening
A second set of hands!
-Stick with varieties of cherry tomato seedlings (sungold, supersweet 100s, tiny tims, sweet millions and red currant to name a few), a larger fruit will be too heavy when ripe and the weight may break the upside down tomato plant.
-You can use a hanging basket instead of a bucket (as seen in the video) this is an innovative way to utilize all the potential growing space.
WHAT TO DO:
- Create a Drainage Hole: Using your utility knife, carefully cut a hole in the bottom of your bucker that is two 2-inches in diameter. No need for it to be perfect, if your bucket has a circle already on the bottom – you can use this as a guideline. You may also cut a few extra small holes in the bottom for added drainage and some near the top for air circulation.
- Create a Screen for Your Upside Down Tomato Planter: To help keep your tomato plant and soil in the bucket, while still letting the water out, cut a piece of plastic window screening to fit snugly on the bottom of the bucket. Fold your screen in half and make a small cut in the centre, then open it up and cut it like you would a pizza or pie, so that there are six small flaps. This opening should be as big as the hole in your bucket and the roots of the tomato seedling should be able to squeeze through.
- Fill Your Bucket with Potting Soil: The amount of soil will depend on how strong your hanging apparatus is.
- Fertilize: If your soil doesn’t have already have an organic fertilizer mixed in, you may add some now. Check out this Marine Phytoplankton Liquid Organic Fertilizer!
- Prepare for the Upside Down: Get your tomato seedling ready for planting by removing it from the pot or cell. If the plant is root-bound separate roots. Gently remove any excess soil and the bottom few leaves. Moisten the root ball and then squeeze it gently before sliding the roots through the hole in the bottom of your bucket.
- Plant It: There are two approaches for planting an upside down tomato:#1 Right Side Up Start: After filling your bucket to the top with potting soil, put the lid on securely and then turn the bucket over (so the hole is on top now). Push your tomato plant down into the soil. Tomatoes should be planted very deeply as the roots will grow from the stem. So plant it up to the first set of sturdy leaves. With daily care, you can allow this plant to grow until it reaches close to 12 inches before hanging it upside down.The advantage: The container won’t shade the tomato plant when the sun is overhead. Plants always grow up, even if they are upside down, so by starting it right side up, the plant shouldn’t contort so quickly. This method does make for a very heavy soil filled bucket.#2 Upside Down Start: Don’t fill your bucket to the top with potting soil, leave between 3-5 inches. Put the lid on securely and tip the bucket onto its side. Using a second pair of hands (the two person task), stuff the seedling deeply into the hole up to its first set of sturdy leaves, pushing through the screen flaps will bend them back. Once the tomato plant is in, pull the flaps out so that they lay flat on the soil.
- Hang Your Upside Down Tomato: Hang securely from its handle. Ask for help as needed as this planter will be both heavy and cumbersome. Remember you can’t put it down on a flat surface now, as you will crush the plant!
- Provide Enough Love: Water your tomato plant generously. One of the fastest ways to kill a tomato plant is not to give it enough water. You want to keep the soil consistently damp, but not wet. You can leave the lid on, to prevent it from getting too heavy in a sudden rainstorm. Feed every week with an organic fertilizer and ENJOY your harvest.
GREEN THUMB TIPS:
Find the Sunshine: Tomatoes are sun lovers and need at least 6 hours or more per day, so be sure, you choose a sunny location! Don’t just assume or guess about an area you’re considering. Visually time how long the sun is hitting the area, or use a sun calculator.
Heavy Duty Hangers: Find heavy duty, attractive hangers from hardware stores! Most shepherd’s hooks that you find at nurseries or hardware stores will not hold the weight of the upside down tomato planters.
Soil Health: Moisture is important for keeping your tomato plants healthy, you may find that adding a little mulch or peat moss helpful. Fertilizer works to
Instructions adapted from ‘The Spruce’: https://www.thespruce.com/make-an-upside-down-tomato-bucket-848255
Upside Down Tomatoes: How To Grow Tomatoes Upside Down
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