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Distress Signal: Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Patricia Williams

Nature teaches more than she preaches
                                                – John Burroughs

The Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter,
a gadget offered on eBay and Amazon,
available at Walmart, Best Buy, and Lowe's,  
also “Seen On TV” –
promises bigger and better tomatoes,
an earlier crop, avoids the backbreaking work
of growing them right-side-up.
Cutworms and ground fungus won’t appear
when you grow upside-down tomatoes.
Satisfied buyers praise upside-down planting
for growing splendid tomatoes in limited spaces –  
unshaded places and sun-drenched porches  
perfect to nurture upside-down tomatoes.
Raised in the conventional way,
tomatoes need staking to keep stems from breaking,
a condition that arises from weight.  
Cherry tomatoes diminish problems, do well enough
grown right-side-up.

There’s a drawback to raising inverted tomatoes.  
Plants signal distress, struggle upward,
stems make U-turns, reach for the sky –
roots crawl out of the pot,
stretch toward the earth, pursue a downward direction.
Efforts to change them……...          
like trying to train willful children.

© by Patricia Williams.
Used with the author’s permission.


Patricia Williams began writing poetry after retiring from teaching Art and Design. Originally from the Chicago area, she now lives in Wisconsin, eight miles from a village of 1300 and 25 miles from any place larger. Her work appears in many journals and anthologies, and she is the author of The Port Side of Shadows, a poetry chapbook about her travels, and Midwest Medley, which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association.



Post New Comment:
Patricia Williams:
My point exactly... Patricia
Posted 07/12/2021 09:45 AM
Oh yes. Tomatoes need staking to keep stems from breaking. Fun.
Posted 07/12/2021 09:45 AM
I have never heard of growing upside-down tomatoes before, but your description of it is great as is your connection of it to larger life issues!
Posted 07/12/2021 09:34 AM
Wilda Morris:
The turn in the last stanza, as Larry wrote, is metaphorical - and powerful.
Posted 07/12/2021 09:30 AM
Larry Schug:
The last stanza, to me, is very metaphorical. We all do what we need to do to make ourselves be what we are.
Posted 07/12/2021 08:31 AM

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