Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Update on my Upside-Down Tomatoes

At last we have been harvesting delicious tomatoes from both of our upside down tomato planters. The Topsy Turvy Planter is still doing the best.


As the tomatoes ripen, the plant is looking worse. Some of the leaves are yellowing or turning brown. I don't know if this is due to uneven watering or a nutrient deficiency in the soil. For the soil in both planters, I used about half organic potting soil and half coir (coconut fiber). I saw how the coir worked so well retaining water for the worm bin that I thought it would do well in the planters. The only problem is that I don't know if that is cutting down on the nutrition going to the plant.

To remedy this next year, I plan to add Tomatoes Alive organic fertilizer to the planters. Tomatoes Alive has been successful for me in the past but what will make it even better for the topsy turvy is that Gardens Alive is giving away a pound of tomatoes alive plus when you buy a Topsy Turvy II from them.

I don't know if Topsy Turvy II is any different from my Topsy Turvy, but I want to buy at least one more of them for next year, so I might as well get it with the Tomatoes Alive from Gardens Alive.

If I use their internet coupon -$20 Off $40 purchase, I can get three for the price of two! Or maybe I'll just get two and buy something else small to qualify for the $20 off. I love everything they have. If you have never browsed the Gardens Alive!site, I strongly encourage you to. They have a lot for the organic garden. Back to this year - The tomatoes are looking good from our hanging planters.


The overall plant doesn't look as good as it does on the Topsy Turvy advertisement, but does anything ever look as good as the ad? I think next year I will prune of the lower branch side shoots (which are actually higher since it is upside down). This would help the overall upside-down tomato appearance.

In conclusion, When I wrote my first post Do Upside Down Tomato Planters Work?, I thought that they were more of a novelty than a real planter. Now that I have tried a couple different ways, I think that the Topsy Turvy is a solid product. It is probably still better to plant tomatoes directly in the ground, but if you don't have room or if you just want some gardening fun, give the Topsy Turvy a try. If you want to know more of the pros and cons of growing with planters, I wrote a more in-depth post on this subject at Simple Green Frugal Co-op.

Next season, I am going to try strawberries and cucumbers in one too. How can I already be talking about next year's tomatoes when there is still so much harvest and then the Fall garden to tend to this year? I don't know. I guess its an obsession. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great Bell Pepper Harvest - But Why?

I told you in my last post that we have had success with onions and peppers. The Bell Peppers have continued to be incredible this year. We have Green and Yellow Bell Peppers and now some are beginning to turn red for us. There are so many peppers on each plant!


The size of these peppers are much larger than I'm used too as well.


In years past, I never got such great peppers unless I used great big plants liquid compost on them like I did the year before last.

You may think I'm bragging about these peppers but I'm not. You see, for whatever reason I usually can not grow very good Bell Peppers. Most of you reading this probably grow peppers like this every year, but I usually only get one or two small bell peppers from each plant.

So what is different this year? Did I amend the soil or use fertilizer? No, but something is different next to the bed that is producing these wonderful peppers.

They are right behind our new chicken coop that has a slanted highly reflective silver roof!

Pepper Chicken Coop 

Could these pepper plants be benefiting from the reflective rays? I think so, because I also planted peppers from the same batch of seedlings elsewhere in the garden that are performing in their normal lackluster way. Here is a picture of one of them:


That is how my pepper plants usually look! Pathetic compared to my bed of bountiful peppers.

This summer has been unusually cool and wet which have not been good growing conditions for tomatoes. Peppers are supposed to do best with heat as well. Do you think it is possible that my peppers are so good because of the chicken coop roof? I guess without conducting soil samples in the two locations we can't be sure that the soil is the same, but I think it is. I really think the only difference is the reflective roof.

Am I crazy?

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