Hanging Tomato and Pepper Garden
(Dallas, TX, USA)
From Left, Bell Pepper, Strawberry, Tomato and Zucchini
Here in my part of Dallas, Texas the soil is hard clay and no matter how much soil preparation we tried our vegetable garden always failed. Between the soil, all-too-frequent storms, and pests of one type or another our garden vegetables always succumbed before harvest. We had given up on growing vegetables for good, we thought. That is until we found upside-down gardening.
I bought 3 Topsy-Turvy hanging planters at the `Home Depot` and put a zucchini(courgette) in one, tomato in another and bell pepper in the third. The zucchini was my first success at growing from seed (we gave up on outdoor propagation and set aside a table in front of a south-facing window).
I didn't think the zucchini would make it out of that table as I had forgotten to water it for a couple of days and it dried out and almost died. But it pulled through and came back just before transplanting. The Topsy-Turvy planters are hanging from a 2x4 braced wood frame I built - it's not the prettiest but it does the job.
I used a piece of 8 1/2" x 11" computer paper rolled around the delicate leaves of each vegetable plant before pushing the leaves and stem out through the hole at the bottom of the Topsy-Turvy. I held the planter "upside down" so for a minute it was a right-side-up planter :) Then, still holding the plant in place I carefully fitted the foam plug around the stem of the plant. This both holds the plant in place and holds in enough water for proper growth.
Next, I placed scoops of potting soil (Miracle Grow potting soil from the local Home Depot) into the bottom of the planter until the vegetable roots were completely covered, being careful not to leave any voids and being careful not to damage the roots. Then I filled the Topsy-Turvy with the potting soil up to about 2 inches from the top of the planter.
After fitting the "cap" onto the planter I hung up the Topsy-Turvy to a hook I had inserted into my wood frame.
Over the next 3 weeks I watered each morning. One mason jar to each planter worked out to be the right amount. I saw no growth for at least a week but by the end of the second week I started to notice good growth on all 3 plants in their vegetable containers.
At about 3 weeks the plants seemed to stop growing until I added some Miracle Grow plant food. The Topsy-Turvy vegetable planters have performed wonderfully and the plants have exploded in leafy growth. I am especially happy that there is NO WEEDING to be done.
It has now been over a month and the zucchini has flowers and buds (which makes me proud). The tomato - growing bigger and leafier and the bell pepper has numerous buds on it. I am not a vegetable garden expert and am not sure if those buds are the fruit or will eventually open up to form a flower. I am excited to find out, actually.
There are about 5 buds on the pepper, maybe 3 or 4 small yellow flowers on the zucchini. Three of the buds on the pepper look like fruit, one of which is the size of my fingernail, and one white flower just opening this morning.
Now on to the next adventure, I'll tell you later about growing lettuce and spinach, more tomatoes and a surprising sweet potato sprouting.