If there were a prize for gardening ingenuity, Gerret Marchello of Sea Cliff would win for inventing these upside-down tomato planters. “First, I paint the bucket black, which helps warm the roots and results in earlier tomatos,” he said. “Then I drill a 2 1/8-inch hole center on the bottom and place the bucket on a sawhorse.” He inserts a small plant through the hole and buries two-thirds of the stem in a mix of top soil, compost and peat moss. Then he fills the bucket all the way, places a lid on it and turns it right-side up. “Do not turn plants over untill they reach a foot tall,” he warns: “If they’re too small, they may die.” He also builds trellises out of recycled four-by-fours and ledger locks, and fashioned a PVC self-watering system. “Growing upside-down has tons of advantages,” Marchello says, “but mostly, it’s fun.”
Are you in? This year’s Great Long Island Tomato Challenge will take place at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Newsday headquarters (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville). Just bring your largest tomato and you might be crowned tomato king or queen! Send a photo and details about your tomatoes to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might be featured next.