I hot compost and vermicompost (worms) to support gardening in my backyard. I have started growing hops (in Florida) to brew beer.
This is an ongoing tutorial on building a tomato tree planter, just like the one at "Living with the Land" at Disney World's Epcot.
I decided to build this planter for a few reasons, chief of which is that I do not have much area to garden with. By expanding upwards instead of outwards, I can increase my garden's yield tremendously. Disney claimed that one tomato tree plant lived for over a year and had an amazing harvest over its life.
I have previously attempted a Topsy Turvy tomato planter with some success, but I wanted something more permanent.
How to Build a Tomato Tree Planter
Time required: 2 hours
Cost: $50 or less
- (8) pieces of PVC pipe, 8 to 10 foot, 1 inch diameter preferred
- (4) 3-way elbow PVC connectors (unthreaded)
- PVC glue or epoxy
- Hammer or mallet
Step 1: Gather all your materials together. Here is a close-up shot of the 3-way piece connector you will need, as well as the PVC pipe.
Step 2: Trial fit everything. I decided to make a simple square to start, since it would be the simplest.
Step 3: Due to not needing exact dimensions for my project, I was able to eyeball the length and width of the top of my planter. I lined them up with my existing garden enclosure (which does need replacing, as you can see). I cut them the inside length and width of my garden.
Step 4: Build to the top portion of the planter. If you turn the PVC piping as you insert them into the connector, you will get a stronger hold for this step.
Step 5: Fit each uncut piece into your PVC pipe into the top portion of your planter. It should be about 10 feet tall. Move your ladder to each corner, and pound it down about 6 inches to a foot—enough that it can stand by itself. Then remove the portion of the planter. You should have four pieces of PVC sticking up out of the ground. Remove the 3-way connector so that the PVC pipes are naked at the top (not shown). The connectors are a bit fragile and can break if you aren't careful (one of mine did). Consider placing a piece of wood on the exposed PVC and striking the wood instead of directly on the piping.
Step 6: Pound each of the four PVC pipes in the ground to just ABOVE your height, so that you can easily walk underneath it without ducking. I found that a 3/4-inch PVC flexes too much, and 1 inch is much sturdier and will flex less if you decide to grow a sweet potato tree or fluted pumpkin tree, like on the "Living with the Land" ride at Epcot.
Step 7: Use your ladder to reconnect the top portion of your planter. You may need to dismantle and refit each piece separately, especially if you are doing this solo. For a more permanent installation, glue or epoxy each piece together.
Step 8: Tie a sturdy outdoor cord from one side of the planter to the other, or basket-weave it from both sides. Paracord or nylon string/cord would work great.
Now the difficult part is training a tomato plant to grow that tall!
A Work in Progress
Since this is a work in progress, I will update a few steps once I succeed. My current plan is to train one of my plants to grow into the tomato tree planter I have constructed using paracord to support it on the way up.
The 3-way connector below was the hardest part to find, and I recommend just ordering it online. One local hardware store didn't have it and the second had only 3/4-inch ones (which is how I discovered 3/4 piping is too flexible—learn from my mistakes!). The nylon string or paracord should be easy to get anywhere, and the pipe itself you can get at any hardware store.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Let me know how yours went!
flycatcherrr on June 08, 2014:
It's going to be a lot of fun to watch for your updates, as the tomato growing adventure goes along!