I’m the first to admit that I’m always skeptical when new gardening gimmicks appear, and this upside down tomato bag thing I’ve seen on television has really brought out the skeptic in me. According to the website, this latest gimmick is better because it “saves space, eliminates weeding and bending, keeps plants away from the ground’s insects and potential diseases, and eliminates having to constantly tie your plants to stakes.” Though I haven’t spent any money on it (and won’t) I wanted to be fair, so I visited several other websites to read product reviews by people who’ve bought one.
The number one complaint about this thing is the weight. A tomato plant full of fruit is very heavy. Add water (8.35 Lbs per gallon) and it might pull down whatever you hang it from. Some people have actually gone out and bought steel tubing or 2 x 4s to support it.
But wait! There’s more! You can also buy a special stand to support your tomato bag! (But doesn’t that kind of defeat the space saving aspect?)
Others have had to tie the plant up with pantyhose to keep it from pulling itself out of the bag. My first question when I saw the thing was “How do you keep gravity from pulling the plant out of the bag?” Now I know-pantyhose! (What was that about eliminating tying plants to stakes?)
The second most common complaint has to do with watering. Many people complain that the water runs out of the hole that the tomato stem goes through and runs down over the plant, keeping it perpetually soaking wet. (What was that about disease?) Many others complained about how quickly the soil dried out, saying they’ve had to rig up drip irrigation lines to keep it moist. How does overhead drip irrigation work, I wonder? For your next purchase, might I suggest a Sham Wow to mop all that leaking water up with?
But wait! What about those pesky insects? The most common pest on tomato plants is whitefly. Whiteflies lay eggs on the underside of leaves and the emerging nymphs suck the life out of the plant. How do they get to the plant? They fly, hence their name. So much for upside down-ness keeping pests away.
In my opinion, you should save your money and plant your tomatoes in the garden. For the price of two of these things you can buy enough tomato plants to feed your entire neighborhood. If you’re an apartment dweller, take a five gallon bucket, drill holes in the bottom and fill it with compost or composted manure. You’ll have plenty of tomatoes and really will save space. If you feel that you must grow your tomatoes upside down, drill one hole in the center of a five gallon bucket bottom and thread the plant through it upside down, roots first, and fill the bucket with compost. Then, rent a crane or some scaffolding to hang it from, because it might just tear the porch roof right off the house. Or, you could just grow a dwarf cherry or grape tomato in a standard hanging planter. I’ve done this many times and they do produce tomatoes, but not as many as they would if grown in the ground.
If anyone reading this has bought one of these and believes my criticism is too harsh, I’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, I wish you nothing but good luck, strong rafters, and bumper crops.