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Tomato on a chain

I’m a pretty experimental girl. Some might not agree with me, and there are certainly areas where I draw the line (Skydiving: No.) on testing hypotheses, but when it comes to certain things, my philosophy always errs on the side of hell, yeah.

Watering the tomato basketAnd thus, I decided to plant a tomato plant in a hanging basket this year.

This fact solicited funny looks from Trey and Monica when I visited their Most Excellent Garden Center a week ago, but so be it. I want to see if it’s possible, and isn’t a hanging basket full of tomatoes more interesting than, you know, the usual run-of-the-mill flowers.

Please note: I’m not calling out any run-of-the-mill flowers by name here. After all, you might very well have one of said hanging baskets with said flowers on your front porch right now, and I really would prefer that you return again and again to read my blog. Just call this a survival tactic.

But back to the subject at hand. So. I decided a hanging basket of tomatoes would work better if I went with a small variety, so I picked up a four-pack of yellow pear tomato seedlings at a local Ace Hardware outlet. I had kind of been thinking of trying to find Sweet 100s, after tasting them at my parents’ house last year, but in the interest of efficiency, went with what I could get on short notice and without a bunch of driving around. Saving gas is good for the environment, after all.

Tomato basket, hangingI used a planter lined with cocoa fiber in the hopes that it will retain some moisture for my experimental seedling, and at the advice of Steve’s mother, planted the seedling as deep as possible, hoping the roots would spread along the bottom surface of the container and hold the plant in when it inevitably spills over the sides.

I’m hoping for something drapey, and in my wild and crazy fantasies, imagine myself coming home from work this summer, picking a few tomatoes on my way by the front porch, and eating them out of hand when I get inside.

My flip-side daymare is that I’m going to come home one day to find the whole plant, loaded down with green fruit, flopped into the bushes that line the front porch. Of course, if that happens, I’ll just plant some run-of-the-mill flowers in there and call it a day.

Photo credits: Mary Beth Bishop

25 Comments on “Tomato on a chain”

  1. #1 Ruth
    on May 28th, 2007 at 3:23 am

    We have Tumbler Tomatoes specifically bred for hanginging baskets and they work really well. The only problem can be getting the watering right.

  2. #2 Sally
    on May 28th, 2007 at 4:45 am

    I did this in our summer, with cherry tomatoes. It worked really well, and yes I was known for picking them as I got home. But just about every visitor also picked them on their way in the gate.


  3. #3 inadvertentgardener
    on May 28th, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Ruth, the watering part worries me a bit. I’m trying to water every day, but so much just runs right through. How do you handle the watering?

    Sally, I admit that I have wondered whether people walking by on the sidewalk will potentially eat my tomatoes before I can get to them. Visitors is one thing. Random strangers? Quite another.

  4. #4 Carol
    on May 28th, 2007 at 6:47 am

    This should work, thought when it is really hot, you may have to water twice a day, and don’t forget some kind of organic fertilizer. I bought some that is specifically formulated for tomatoes (Worm Poop fertilizer). It will be fun, and healthy, to grab a few cherry tomatoes on your way in our out and pop them in your mouth!

  5. #5 inadvertentgardener
    on May 28th, 2007 at 6:51 am

    Carol, watering twice a day is definitely something I’ve thought about. Plus, if I concentrate on watering twice a day, maybe I’ll actually manage to water once a day. Hmm… And thanks for the tip on the worm poop fertilizer — adding some of that is a great idea!

  6. #6 Heather
    on May 28th, 2007 at 10:26 am

    I planted a cherry tomato in a self-watering hanging basket and it’s getting huge and I have about 10 blossums already. I’m guessing I might not have been watering it enough because I filled the bottom yesterday afternoon and when I came out this morning, it was dry. Question: how long does it take for a blossum to become fruit?

  7. #7 Katiez
    on May 28th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    I did the tumbler tomatoes once….but failed on the watering-every-day part. Besides, I already have too many in the main garden!

  8. #8 Annie in Austin
    on May 28th, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    This sounds like fun~ ‘Tumbler Tomato’ is a great name and who wouldn’t like to stroll along the porch grazing on tomatoes?

    I’ve never grown a tomato in a hanging basket, just flowers. For some of them I did the diaper trick- lining the basket with a disposable diaper, plastic side down, with some drainage holes punched in the plastic. There’s some kind of gel in there and the roots of the plants eventually entwined with the diaper, using the gel as a reservoir.

    It did help in hot summer winds, but Genie – I have no idea if this is organic for a food plant like a tomato.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. #9 steven
    on May 28th, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    I’ve seen lots of tomatoes in baskets before and there’s those upside down tomato thingies you see on the infomercials. (they may even have an ad on my site).

    As long as you tomatoes get enough sun and water they should do great.

  10. #10 Christina
    on May 28th, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    According to Seeds of Change, Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato grows well in hanging containers (

    I’m sure other tomato types will work too. Good luck on the adventure!

  11. #11 inadvertentgardener
    on May 28th, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Heather, I think it depends on the type of tomato plant, but generally my plants seem to go from flower to tomato fruit in about three to five days. Does that sound right to other people?

    Katiez, I’m determined to try to stay focused on the watering…we’ll see.

    Annie, I have heard of this diaper trick, and thought about trying it, but was more lazy about going to get a diaper to use than anything else.

    Steven, I have seen those infomercials, but somehow, that seems different. Maybe because it’s only $19.95 plus shipping and handling?

    Christina, thanks for that link — I’ll go check it out!

  12. #12 Susan
    on May 29th, 2007 at 11:24 am

    This is an excellent idea, though it would be hard for me to choose between cherry tomatoes and a froth of lobelia blossoms. As the other readers have said, you just need to compensate for the water and fertilizer. If you halve the water into two stages about 10 minutes apart, you will have better saturation and less run through. Watering slowly also helps.

  13. #13 inadvertentgardener
    on May 29th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Susan, I like the two-stages option — that could work pretty well. I’m definitely trying to water slowly — that’s for sure. Thank you for the tips!

  14. #14 Hanging in there « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Jun 27th, 2007 at 11:11 am

    [...] June 27th, 2007 Status check , Fruit Of all the tomato plants in my current custody, the hanging basket tomato is doing the least [...]

  15. #15 LaurenceMA
    on Jul 3rd, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I just read this thread for some useful info. In our attached sun room my wife bought at a farmers market yesterday a 8″ wide hanging cherry tomato plant, in bloom and bearing fruit. I have just finished watering it, and after reading this thread I am wondering if I should do it twice a day. I used a Oz empty water bottle and a little TLC on the step stool to reach it. Also, tomato plant fertilizer? Googleing tells me in several articles to fertilize it once every two weeks. If so, is there special fertilizer to get. I got up early this AM and found a sunny area that gets direct sunlight and hung the planter at that point. Tips would be appreciated as I love cherry tomatoes.

  16. #16 The hanging tomato has to go « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Aug 24th, 2007 at 12:46 am

    [...] And so, it should come as no surprise to any of them that I have not yet given up on the hanging tomato. [...]

  17. #17 I am, apparently, cruel and unusual « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Aug 26th, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    [...] actually get up on the step-ladder and figure out whether there was, you know, enough dirt in the hanging basket, or anything worth noting up there, or [...]

  18. #18 Denise
    on Feb 20th, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I have grown tomatoes in a basket for quite a few years. I like to grow them out of the bottom of the basket and plant herbs on the top of the basket. It nakes a great looking floral piece and I have all my spices and tomatoes close by.

  19. #19 Marty
    on Mar 28th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Hello when it comes to planting tomatoes in a basket i grow 6 large and i mean large plants and all my peppers hearbs in a basket called a bloom master check them out they have a web site…and you talk about big fruit that the porduce WOW!!!!!!!!!

  20. #20 inadvertentgardener
    on Mar 29th, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Marty, that sounds like a pretty miraculous basket…

  21. #21 Rodger
    on May 8th, 2008 at 8:33 pm


    I just love growing or should I say eating tomatoes! Anything grown in a hanging basket dries out very quickly so as been said before getting the watering right can be a major problem.

    Watering so often washes nutrients out of the compost very quickly and so a good feeding regime is essential.

    I have found this method much harder work than planting in my greenhouse border but have achieved great results with Tumbler.

    For anyone with restricted space in their back yard this is a great idea.

  22. #22 inadvertentgardener
    on May 11th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Rodger, yes — I definitely didn’t take the washing-out-of-nutrients into account when I was watering my hanging basket — that’s a really good point!

  23. #23 A totally inappropriate choice – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Apr 27th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    [...] Before I discovered my cruel and unusual punishment of the hanging tomato, I stopped by my local Earl May store to try to figure out what to buy as a replacement plant to go in the hanging basket. [...]

  24. #24 I am, apparently, cruel and unusual – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Apr 27th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    [...] actually get up on the step-ladder and figure out whether there was, you know, enough dirt in the hanging basket, or anything worth noting up there, or [...]

  25. #25 Josh at Nashville Mortgage
    on Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:53 am

    In 2010 we grew a few different kinds of tomatoes in urns on a back porch because of the bad soil quality in our neighborhood. When doing this you need to be sure the pots are big enough for given plants potentiall root growth and you will probably need to water them almost double as often as the soil tends to dry out. Also just before they ripen either cover them or harvest them because birds will destroy your plants as they cant stay away from the bright colors.

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