Upside-down tomato crop!
Being an eco concious soul, I always find it challenging to recycle various items around the house. One ‘monster’ is the dreaded plastic milk bottle. I have discovered a novel method of rescuing this waste from landfill, whilst providing an abundant crop of tomatoes for my family.
Occassionally I purchase an exceptional looking tomato from the grocery store, slice it, and place the slices onto paper towels. Once the pulp is dry, the paper towels themselves are placed into a container, and lightly covered with a rich compost and a generous spray of water. I like to start them off in late winter, and I put them outside in an area protected from the extremes. This allows them to get a hardy start,rather than move them to the great outdoors when a few inches tall, only to have the weaker plants die off. By doing this, I already know how many plants I will have.
Take a plastic, gallon sized milk bottle and poke a hole through the side, at the bottom. This will allow for ample drainage as well as serving a later purpose. The hole must have a corresponding hole on the other side. It is here you thread a piece of heavy wire or cord through. Fill the bottle to within and inch of the top with the same compost your seedlings were ‘born’ in. Carefully plant your young tomato plant, using a stick to dig the hole. You will need to poke some dried grass or straw in around the plant to retain moisture.
Leave these in the morning sun, checking the moisture content every 3-4 days.
Once the plants are around 8-10 inches tall, hang the bottles upside down and secure to a verandah rail, tree or old clothes line wire. After a few days the plants will begin to turn upward toward the sky, and will begin to grow up and around the milk bottle. You may want to secure the branches together once they have curled up and around the top of the bottle to provide some strength and stop the weight of the fruit from splitting the branches away from the main stem.
For pest control, I simply use a mild soap and water solution and spray all new blossoms. This works very effectivley and is a great bottom-of-the-jar use for the last portion of your dishwashing soap.This method of growing tomatoes is a peculiar site to behold, a novel way of getting your children interested in growing and eating all types of fruit and vegetables, and also a great way to repuropse some items which were otherwise destined to become landfill.