Small Space Gardening: How To Make Inverted Hanging Tomato Planters Out Of Plastic Water Jugs

April 15th, 2013 - filed under: The Farm » Flora

Boy howdy, this project. This project! I heart it, is what I mean to say. Because it combines so many of my favorite things, like reusing/upcycling, and small-scale gardening, and inventive solutions to common problems, and also tomatoes. And twine! I love twine.

Tomatoes are so, so much fun to grow, because there’s a huge yield and wow, if you’ve never tasted a sun-warm tomato right off the vine, then get thee to a farm STAT. But the thing about tomatoes is that they can take up a lot of space, and they require trellising, which can be messy and/or expensive.

Enter ingenuity.

I’d seen hanging tomato set-ups around Portland, and I’d always wanted to try it. The idea is simple – you suspend the plant up high, upside down, so that instead of needing to spread up and out, you let gravity take care of everything. No trellising necessary!

And it makes use of the water jugs I had to buy when I first moved back to SB, because the tap water here ohmigod . . . well, let’s not even go there. So! Starting with gallon-sized jugs, remove the labels (you could also paint these puppies to make ‘em even prettier) and then use a pair of scissors to carefully cut off the bottoms.

In order too thread with twine, you’ll need to make a hole in each of the four sides, about an inch or so down from the now-missing bottom. I did this by hammering a nail to start the hole, and then using one side of my scissors to widen the hole.

Thread the twine through so that you have four loops of equal length, to evenly distribute the wight of the container.

Now comes the hard part.

You’ll need to slip your tomato start, leaves and all, through the very small mouth of the water jug. It’s pretty awkward, and I suggest using smaller starts than I did. Regardless, you should be able to make it work with minimal damage. I broke a few leaves but mostly my tomatoes faired okay.

Once they’re in, fill the rest of the jug with organic potting soil. Hang ‘em up and water ‘em good!

I’m so excited to see how this project unfolds! I know they’ll need extra watering since there’s no “ground” around them to protect them from drying. My biggest concern, though, is the size of the containers – and the roots having enough room to spread. We’ll see how that plays out. I know my potato tire tower project took a few years to iron out, but in the end it was awesome. I have high hopes for this one as well.

I’ll keep you all posted!