18 June, 2010

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

You might remember from my previous posts about the garden that I'm trying out a couple of the ridiculous Topsy Turvy Tomato Planters.  If you've never seen the TV ads or - worse yet - the infomercials, they are a type of reinforced nylon material that is designed to have a tomato planted upside down in the bottom and filled with planting media from the top.

The theory behind this is incredibly stupid and invokes a kindergartener's concept of gravity:  Pour water and plant food into the top to encourage healthy root development.  Meanwhile, the tomato plant is supposed to grow downward as GRAVITY pulls water and nutrients to the flowers and ripening fruit.

This, of course, completely ignores what actually happens in a plant, where the roots spread and grow deeper in search of water and the plant grows upward to the sun.  Meanwhile, capillary action in the stalk of the plant easily brings the water and nutrients to the leaves, flowers, and fruit.  Notice in the photo how the plant is growing:  out the bottom and up the sides.  That plant is a very stocky and healthy "Husky Red Hybrid," a dwarf indeterminate variety which, ideally in the Topsy Turvy, would have made a stocky, compact vine under the planter which would become loaded with huge clusters of small round fruit.

I strongly suspect that the tomato plants in the advertisements were fully grown tomato vines in full production which were stuck into the bottom of the planters long enough to be filmed.  I could be wrong, of course.  But I'll continue to post photos throughout the growing season so we can see first-hand just how well they work.

Regardless of how the tomatoes do, I'll probably use the Topsy Turveys again.  They're fairly big, and hold a lot of potting soil.  I'm thinking of cutting slits in the sides of the planters and using them as hanging strawberry planters next year.


tree ocean said...

hmmm I was interested in them too but since I have plenty of space and not a lot of cash I passed them by...I am thinking once the fruit starts the weight of that will pull the vines down. At least that is what happens when I forget to stake mine!

Mark Gregor said...

Can't wait to see how this progresses. I haven't had the guts to try. :-)

auntjone said...

I bought one last year and it was a total flop. It didn't get enough sun and, at least in my area, tomatoes were an epic failure all around so I wasn't discouraged. This year I bought a bigger plant (no fruit, I didn't cheat) and haven't noticed the curving stem- yet. I have a handful of small tomatoes now so we'll see how it goes.

salymsmommy said...

A friend who is all about recycling took a reusable shopping bag from Walmart and made his own Topsy Turvy by poking small holes in the bottom for the plants to grow through and just hanging it by the handles in a tree. He managed to get great tomatoes from his, but it took a lot of work. Not a 'set it and forget it' item in my opinion.

llcwine said...

I have at least 3 cherry tomatoes and a ton of flowers on mine. This is the first year I've tried one, and though it's not doing as well as the regular patio tomato plants, it's holding it's own.