Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomatoes to the Wind

{Handmade tomato hangers soaking up the sun}

Dirty has a pretty green thumb. See all the pretty green stuff in the yard. That's Dirty's deal. Me, I am more yellow-green to brownish-green. But I found a way to help, even if I can't plant, water, trim or harvest. I can make spiffy little tomato hanger baskets!
{Only one plant survived the transplant on this one}
Several weeks ago we transplanted the tomato seedlings we bought several months ago. Yeah. At first we made a big 24"x 24"x24" hanging box for 9 plants. We hung it on a rope from a tree. Then we had a classic summer thunderstorm and it started to swing. It had to weight 40 pounds. 40 pounds swinging in 35 mph winds near a screen door is not really a good combination. Not to mention 40 pounds turns into super heavy when saturated with rain. Not recommended.

{This baby is rockin'}
After the too huge tomato hanger debacle, we made five small ones instead. Dirty made the wire hangers out of a roll of fencing and wire. I made the basket liners out of cheap-o burlap and pre-made bias tape to finish the fold over edges and make the corner ties. (The ginormous one had Velcro instead of longer ties, it didn't work out.)

{Our wet dog bath towel is hanging in the back to kind of help the tomato plants show up better in the picture}
These baskets are about 6" x 8" x 12" and are perfect for 4-5 plants. I cut two strips of canvas: one strip 9" x 32" and one strip 7" x 34" (width+1" x depth+bottom+depth+2" for fold over). I laid them out to cross in the middle. Using a zigzag stitched, I stitched a rectangle and X where the strips overlapped. Then I stitched up the sides, stopping about 2" from the top.

{More wet dog bath towel, but this basket is growing like crazy}

While the bag is inside-out, put it in the basket to make sure it fits and that the tops fold over about an 1" or so. I used a Sharpie to mark where to mark the hole for the plants. (It can be seen better in the first and second picture.) I made these about 1/2" x 1/2". That makes them large enough for the stem to grow, but not large enough for a bunch of soil to spill out when it rains 4" in one day or when I over water them--see yellow-green thumb mentioned above.

I stitch around the marked opening three times with a zigzag stitch, then cut out the section. After all the sections where reinforced with the stitching and cut it out, I attached the bias tape around the raw edges leaving about 4-5 inches on each end to tie the corners together. I started by stitching the bias tape to the two short edges that make the corner seam, then adding the bias to the long straight edges with the extra to tie. All of this was done with a zigzag stitch, too.

Dirty filled the baskets with compost and soil to the lowest openings, threaded through the plants, filled to the next opening, repeat with the plants and filled up the rest of the basket. Some of the baskets have a plant in the top, too.

We hung these cute little tomato hangers from the fallen tree that also holds my clothesline. We can remove them if it rains too much or gets too windy. That's also why we didn't put any plants out the bottom. They don't have any blossoms yet, which is not a big surprise since they were planted so late. Luckily we have an extended growing season. They've tripled in size so far, so I think we'll be fine.

The idea is that tomato plants are pretty much vines. We spent the last two summers staking and re-staking our plants in the regular garden, just to watch them get drowned by a tropical storm. The hangers can easily be brought indoors if/when another tropical storm sits and spins over us for a week dropping 22" of rain and blowing her little heart out. Oh, it'll happen and we'll be ready. =]


Zonnah said...

Those are so cool! I think next year I am going to have a garden.

Indie House said...

Thanks for this, I've been wanting to make own instead of buying the hanging bags and now you've done most of the work for me :)

heather jane said...

This is just cool!!! I'm so glad you posted. Don't lurk...we want to know you!