Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Upside-Down Tomato Planters

Occasionally, when I drive through Tucson I see an upside-down tomato planter with something sticking out of the bottom. The majority of the time the things sticking out from the bottom is some form of vegetation that tried to survive our harsh climate and failed miserably. My neighbor's windchime pictured here reminds me of these dead tomato plants. It is not just another pretty decoration but is, in my mind, a memorial to all those enthusiastic tomato growers who fall prey to a computer generated image of a crop of tomatoes so bountiful that, if it were real, the weight of the tomatoes would pull the whole plant out by the roots!

So why do upside-down tomato planters not work in the desert? Should you be able to put your upside-down tomato planter in the clothes dryer you would find out. I call it the blow dryer affect. In mid-June the daytime temperatures in Tucson are well above 100°F (38°C) and the strong winds manage to wilt anything that does not have a well insulated or deep root system. Unless they are related to cacti, any plant in a small pot can die from either drying out from the wind, a lack of water, or radiant heat. Those gardeners with summer plants in pots may not realize that the sun cooks the pot every day. Even if a potted plant has water, the water will often become so hot that the roots become pasteurized. With all these factors, a tomato pot or bag exposed to more of the wind and the heat (by being hung up) will surely expire. This is definitely one of those cases where, if tomatoes were meant to grow upside down, we would be seeing them growing from the trees. So, where should upside-down tomato plants be grown? Somewhere in the north with mild cool summers and a whole lot of sun.

As an additional note: One gentleman has already tested upside-down planters and found that they do not work effectively while others have even been injured by these things. Additionally, a friend on mine told me her mother had mounted one on a tall awning that turned out not to support the weight of the pot. The pot pulled off some of the awning hit the side of the house, then smashed a glass table beneath causing a total of $1000 worth of damage. Not to scare anyone, but it would be wise to think before growing things upside-down.

Neighbor's Decaying Upside Down Tomato Planter

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