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Lunch » Tags » Garden » Reviews » Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter » User review

topsy-turvy - Seems to work well, but a little gimmicky

  • Jul 8, 2009
  • by
Pros: grows tomatoes well and resists pests

Cons: heavy heavy heavy!

The Bottom Line: A fun project for gardeners of all ages.

You've all seen the hard-sell infomercial about the Topsy-turvy upside down tomato container. And you've all wondered if it actually works. Well, my folks decided to purchase them for our kids as an Easter present and something we can do together as a family. Did it grow tomatoes well? Is it easy to use?

Read on, dear reader....

The topsy turvy came in a 2-pack, which is a pretty good deal at about $10 each. They come in several pieces which need to be assembled. Thankfully, the directions that come with the product are quite clear. They describe with words and pictures what needs to be done step by step. I will say that young kids need help for a couple of reasons. This is one of them. The instructions are easy to follow, but handling the plants and putting them in the right place can be a challenge and heavy hands can easily break the plant.

The first thing to do is mount it. In the ad, they show the thing hanging from a skinny pole. The truth is, you need to mount this thing to a fencepost. I use a 4 inch shelf bracket to hang it. This shelf bracket is attached to a fencepost with 4 longs screws. You have a bag full of dirt and then water, it gets to be 30-50 pounds. Don't use a Shepherd's crook, mount it to something that's buried in the ground. 

The topsy-turvy is basically a plastic mesh bag. At the bottom is a piece of foam that holds the plant in place. You put the plant in upside down and secure it with the foam. Then you fill the bag with dirt. Lots of dirt.  You need to make sure the plant is not crooked as you're filling the bag and this is where an extra set of hands can be very helpful and kids will need assistance.

A tip: Plant the tomato start really deep. Make sure dirt covers the stem all the way up to the first set of leaves. If you think you've buried it too deeply, you're right on target. Tomatoes will grow roots from the stem if they're buried in dirt, which means a bigger, more robust root system. This means more tomatoes!

So how does it work? First of all, plants are not made to grow upside down. So as the plant gets bigger, you'll find it starting to curl upwards. This is OK, because once it gets fruit, it will head back down from the weight. But aside from that, the plants are strong with thick trunks. One of them seems to have stem rot and I'm concerned that it will break, but I have no evidence that it is a direct result of the hanger. The other plant shows no sign of this rot. However, I planted some tomatoes in the ground at about the same time and the Topsy-turvy plants are much bigger, about twice the size with more fruit.

However, the Tomatoes are planted in pure potting soil while the garden tomatoes are planted in dirt. This is the more likely cause of the discrepancy and doesn't necessarily prove the topsy-turvy is a superior growing medium, but that I probably need to take steps to improve the soil in my garden.

Aside from all that, the Topsy-turvy does indeed work. And because it's hanging, it won't get the same pest problems as a garden does such as slugs. It's also a great project for the kids. They can go out and check them every day and the plants are at eye-level for them.

Good product so far, if not a bit of a gimmick.


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Jeffrey Kafer ()
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Voice over artist specializing in audiobook narration. Hear more at http://audiobook-voice-over.com/ and http://JeffreyKafer.com
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Featured in Time Magazine! Easy watering, easy growing, tying is unnecessary Great for porch, fire escape, balcony, or even inside a sunny window Great for beginning gardeners, senior gardeners & gardening experts alike! Makes for a great gift in time for Spring season!, Manufacturer: Windowbox
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