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OFB opinion poll #1. May 28, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

Our friend Ben wants to know what you think. Specifically, I want to know what you think about upside-down tomato plants. Our friend Ben saw a whole lotta those this past weekend while plant- and potting soil-shopping at local nurseries. And I’m not happy about it.

We all know those horrible plastic bags of soil that you hang up and dangle tomato plants out of, sort of like a sausage that suddenly sprouted upside down. And now there are hanging “baskets” (you may think of baskets in terms of white plastic, but not our friend Ben) with holes in the bottom, out of which the hapless tomato plants hang helpless like the victims of Ghengis Khan or Vlad the Impaler. One ingenious retailer had even planted basil in the tops of these hanging planters, so you could presumably enjoy tomatoes and basil from the same container.

Our friend Ben just doesn’t get this. If God wanted tomatoes to hang upside down, He’d have given them monkey tails and sent them into trees. Mind you, I don’t see anything wrong with growing tomatoes in containers; see our earlier post, “The container tomato trial,” to find out about our own experiments with this. But there’s quite a difference between growing tomatoes upright in a container and having them hang upside down from the bottom of a bag or “basket.” I realize that it means you wouldn’t have to cage, stake, or otherwise support the growing plants. But frankly, that’s not a huge deal.

However, trying to water a container that’s high enough off the ground to allow a tomato plant to grow to its full height (or length, I suppose, in this case) would be a big deal. It would be an even bigger deal to try to hoist a container that’s roomy enough for deep-digging tomato roots to spread out. Our friend Ben thinks you’d need a support as strong as an arbor to hold one up, and a half-barrel-sized container swinging from on high strikes me as Monty Pythonesque. Not to mention the unfortunate truth that fullgrown tomato plants aren’t the most aesthetic botanicals on the block. Foliage yellows and spots, and often falls off; tomato hornworms make their stealthy way onto stems and leaves. Do you really want a mass of that hanging down in your face?

Well, maybe you do. Somebody’s definitely buying these hanging tomato gizmos, or the nurseries wouldn’t be selling them. That’s why our friend Ben is asking for your opinion. Do you use them? Do you like them? If so, sound off and change my mind. If not, let me hear from you, too: We right-side-up-minded gardeners need to stick together!

Note: For some very astute observations on tomato-growing habits in general, see David in Kansas’s comment, which unfortunately wound up with our earlier post “Frugal living tip #21” rather than here.