I learned something new today about tomatoes.
Tomato varieties are labeled as either indeterminate or determinate, and horticulture experts recommend choosing indeterminate ones for upside-down gardens. Determinate tomato plants are stubbier, with somewhat rigid stalks that issue all their fruit at once, which could weigh down and break the stems if hanging upside down. Indeterminate types, by contrast, have more flexible, sprawling stems that produce fruit throughout the season and are less likely to be harmed by gravity.
Growing Vegetables Upside Down
Based on that description, I now know that two of my plants are indeterminate, and one is determinate. That would explain the behavior or the two sprawling, prolific plants vs. the one squat bush with ten (now rather large) tomatoes that have been there since the start. It may be coincidence, but the determinate plant also seems to be more susceptible to pests… hornworms, particularly. I have picked all the hornworms I’ve found off that one plant.
And while the idea of growing tomatoes and peppers upside down in buckets appeals to me from the perspective of foiling predators and for saving space, I’m not convinced I’ll try this in any big way. But I’m very tempted to convert a couple old Home Depot buckets into hanging upside-down planters like the New Braunfels gardener mentioned in the article. All of this gardening stuff is experimentation to me anyway, so why not? Seems like an innovative, fun project to try.
This link is mentioned in the article, but in case the NYT page disappears, here’s a link to a guy experimenting with upside-down planters: