Monday, February 16, 2009

Do Upside Down Tomato Planters Work?

About fifteen years ago, we moved into our first small house. It had a nice little car-port complete with multiple hooks for hanging plants. The whole neighborhood was the same style house and there were so many beautiful flower arrangements hanging from the end of each carport. We followed suit and hung a few baskets of petunias.

I wasn't very excited about it until I saw a house with more than just hanging flowers. They had a hanging strawberry basketand a hanging container full of herbs. That got me thinking about other edibles you could grow in hanging pots, and before long I had a hanging basket of lettuce. Tomatoes were too big to grow in a hanging pot, but I managed to grow one out of the bottom. It worked pretty well and I was able to grow marigolds in the top part.

I never considered using anything other than a traditional hanging basket, but now there are containers on the market that are designed specifically to grow tomatoes from the bottom. I first saw these a couple years ago but resisted the temptation to buy one... until now!

I now have my very own Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter- as seen on TV even. I don't watch much TV and have never seen any commercials for this product. My daughters laughed when I showed them my new Topsy Turvy Tomato planter. They said, "That will go well in your Tomato Playground. It's like the one on the commericial". I guess it really is seen on TV. Some people are drawn to the "As seen on TV" slogan but I usually shy away from products with that claim. So what do I have with my Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter (other than a mouthful title)? Will it work? I think it should work fine. It will be a pretty cool novelty addition to my container garden section this year.

It will be great, according to all that is written on the box. Here is the list of positives they cite:

  • Grow delicious & Juicy Tomatoes all Season Long
  • Hangs on Deck, Balcony or Patio (I would add Car-port)
  • Eliminates Weeding, Caging and Staking
  • Can Grow Organic Too! (Always)
  • Also grows other vegetables including Green Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Eggplant, and more!
  • How it works:

  • Uses gravity as a vertical growing advantage
  • Vertical grow bag heats the plant like a greenhouse so the root system explodes
  • Gravity pulls the water and nutrients directly to the roots
  • It features:

  • Swivel top for easy turning
  • Simple to set up and maintain
  • Uses ordinary potting soil
  • Great for growing your own organic vegetables
  • UV-resistant, durable materials to last for years
  • I didn't make all of that up. It is what is written on the back of the box.

    The Topsy Turvy isn't the only upside down tomato planter on the market. Look at this funny, but pretty cool Hot Pepper Vertical Grow Bag:

    It seems that I am late to this vegetable hanging party. The more research I did, the more I found. The Topsy Tervy people also make a big stand up system called The Upside-down Tomato Garden. Check this out:

    That is really cool - and you can grow flowers in the top part like I did so many years ago with my home-made upside down tomato planter.

    So what's the verdict with these upside down grow bags? I would love to hear from those of you who have tride them before. Do they work? Do they work better than a "normal" patio container? Did you have fun with them, or were they a hassle to deal with? I will be answering all of these questions this season as I experiment with my Topsy Turvy Tomato bag. I think I will also try to make some home-made upside down tomato planters just for fun.

    What do you think? Are they worth a try?

    13 comments:

    chzplz

    I like the idea, but in my dry climate I find hanging baskets very unforgiving. All it takes is one weekend out of town without watering, and they're toast.

    I can run a soaker hose on a timer for the garden beds, but haven't figured out something reliable for hanging baskets.

    Scott

    http://img341.imageshack.us/img341/8783/img5803ce1.jpg

    We grew some last year in these 5 gallon buckets, with a large hole drilled in the bottom for the tomato to come out (and petunias on top). We used the handle of the bucket to hang over the fence and hold it up. This picture was very early in the year. The flowers did great all season, the tomatoes were much less impressive than upright ones planted in containers that were sown at the same time. I think the hanging "idea" is great, but in practice there are several problems with it. The plant for several months was trying to grow straight up, making the stalk into a U shape. Once fruit set it weighed the plant down and grew all the way to the ground. It was a fun experiment but we won't be doing this again with tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes might have worked better, but to me its still not worth it. Maybe something like a cucumber would work better, but who knows. We were someone disappointed with our results, but hopefully yours goes better.

    ChristyACB

    I think it really does depend on your climate. Several people tried them around my neighborhood and they looked like champs coming out the game with strong stems and thick bushy leaf growth, they staggered to an unimpressive finish.

    It appears that when our blazing hot summers really start cooking, so do the roots!

    Do keep us updated on your progress with them. I'm really curious.

    Chiot's Run

    They're interesting but I can't get over how ugly they are. I garden to beautify my home not just to attain food. I find a tomato in a pot on the front porch just looks better than one hanging from a bucket.

    Maritzia

    I like this idea, and in our moderate climate (it rarely gets really how here in NW Washington), they might work better than in hotter climates. We have such limited space, these upside down baskets might work well. We can hang them from our clothes line.

    Dan

    I am trying 3 of these this season because of my limited space. I am however trying a different version of this one that has a 4L reservoir on top to help keep the tom's moist. I would imagine the one without the reservoir would be difficult to keep from drying out in the summer heat.

    here is the link to the one I am trying.

    jimmycrackedcorn

    Instead of planting flowers in the top, leaving exposed dirt to speed evaporation, couldn't a person just put the bucket's lid back on, with a small watering hole cut into it?

    Dan

    forgot to mention I linked to your blog on my current post.

    Sadge

    My sister loved hers - first-time use last summer, hanging from the corner of a pergola on her deck. It had quite a large reservoir up top, so was easy to keep watered. It's best to choose a determinate-type tomato plant to grow in one.

    Ladyfromthewoods

    I've been reading Jorge Garcia's blog (Hurly from the t.v. show LOST) recently and he loves to do consumer tests on things like this. He happens to have quite the green thumb himself. Here are his two posts on this product.

    http://dispatchesfromtheisland.blogspot.com/search?q=topsy+turvy

    And also, I have a neighbor who tried them with very poor results.

    rhonda jean

    I tried this a few years ago, like Scott, in a bucket with a hole in the bottom. I got a few tomatoes but the quality was poor and it wasn't worth the trouble. When I thought about it later, I realised tomatoes hate having their leaves wet and it often leads to wilt disease. I look forward to seeing how yours works, and I hope it's successful, but I doubt it will be anything like what you'll get from regular tomatoes.

    Connie

    I will be watching to see how this does for you. I saw a neat iron stand in Gardener's supply catalog that has arms to hold 3 or 4 of these...for a mere $99 or so, but it was very handome. :-)
    I would worry about drying out in our hot summers.

    Just Jenn

    I don't know about the upside-down tomatoes but I'll enjoy watching their progress through you. =)

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