Upside Down Tomato Update III
Based on comparing the Upside Down tomato with the condition of the ones in the ground, I decided to put UD into the ground, too. My reasons are:
1. I think we'll get more and better tomatoes if the plant is in the ground.
2. It will be less work if it's in the ground, in the veggie garden where the drip irrigation system is already set up and operating.
The bucket was so brittle I cracked it open with a couple of whacks from a wrench.
Even though I ended the experiment early, I have formed opinions as to the worthiness of growing tomatoes upside down in pots. Here they are:
Yes, it works. I got tomatoes. And to an extent, it was easier than the conventional manner. No staking required. If I'd set up an automatic dripper to water it bucket, it would have been a lot easier. Remembering to water was the biggest task. And no special $20 container required. An old bucket worked, a 5 gallon nursery container with a wire added as a handle would work, too.
Was the plant healthier, or as healthy, as the ones in the ground? No, not nearly so healthy. The fruits on the conventional tomatoes are larger, and the plants are larger. What the Upside Down tomato did have was a robust root system, nearly filling the five gallon bucket. With a root system like that, it should grow well in the ground.
Was the experiment a failure? Not at all! In the right situation, I think this is an excellent way to grow tomatoes and probably other vegetables as well. By "right situation", I mean: a sunny spot with a sturdy structure for hanging the container, combined with either a drip system to keep it watered, or enough time to water them by hand regularly.
For the gardener with only a small space, perhaps just a concrete sitting area with a sturdy patio cover, or tall fence, facing south or south-west, this is a great way to have home-grown vegetables. For seniors who are less mobile, or anyone else unable to stake or provide good structure for conventional tomatoes, this would indeed probably be easier.
For me, with an available veggie garden, and lacking a sunny, easily accessible place to hang them up, hanging tomatoes is not the ideal method at this point.
Even though the experiment is over, I'll update the status of the tomato plant in a few weeks anyway. I'm curious as to how well it will do now that it and its large root system are in the ground.