Saturday, May 22, 2010

The future of upside-down gardening

Topsy Turvy in action. Photo: Topsy Turvy.

As The New York Times points out, the Topsy Turvy tomato planter is a hot ticket in the big-box stores. Thousands of American houses will be festooned with dirt-filled plastic cylinders and dangling tomatoes this summer.

Tomatoes are the number one crop in U.S. gardens, and more power to anyone who makes them easier to grow.

But as I always say, "The best way to earn money in the garden is to invent a gadget for growing tomatoes."

I'm not convinced by this upside-downing yet. For one thing, that fast-draining soil would need to be watered twice a day in my hot climate.

The upside-down gardening fans are full of zeal. What if they decide other plants could benefit from this growing technique? I fear for American gardens.

Come spring we could see:

And who knows if dedicated fans will seek their own health benefits with:

How about you? Will your tomatoes be doing a headstand this summer?

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Bill Bird said...

I'm holding out for the topsy-turvey Mango tree. Thank you.


Kat said...

I almost hate to tell you this but there is already the Topsy Turvy strawberry planter, pepper planter and hummingbird planter. The hummingbird planter is the most ridiculous because it recommends that people plant small starts of honeysuckle and morning glories. I can't remember the last time I saw those items in anything smaller than a 1 gallon. A bit hard to stuff into the planter.

I can see a use for these where people simply have no other option. But the most common problem I find is that most people don't have a spot to hang them that gets adequate sun for the plants.

I have yard filled with dirt. That's where my tomatoes will be hanging out this summer.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Bill, I was thinking an upside-down rose tree might work for you.

Kat, Yikes! Hanging baskets are so much prettier.... My tomatoes will be in containers on the ground. But who knows, maybe we're dinosaurs?

d.a. said...

No hanging planters - upside down or otherwise - for our area. Too hot & windy in the hills!

Anonymous said...

Oh sure- it's easy to be glib when you actually have soil!

For all the people who have spaces the size of a postage stamp in which to work and grow, who have to use containers (there are a lot of us)... The upside down method of growing tomatoes can be pretty right on.

I use hybrids specific to my particular situation, that is to say- I plant what will theoretically work in plastic or terracotta. And I have had success with the aforementioned "device".

If I were an under-endowed man in the size department I might freak out and get a sports car or something. But alas, I am just a chick with a tiny garden- so I hang my tomatoes upside down.

Don't judge.


Unknown said...

I actually bought one at Walgreens the other day. I took it out of the box at home and realized I really didn't want 30 lbs of tomatoes hanging from my eaves, let alone all the trouble it took to use the darn thing. I returned it and put the tomato plant in the ground where it belongs.

EB said...

I haven't heard of this before - sound barking to me! But fun, even so. What's the (supposed) logic behind it?

NeCole said...

My daughter bought the upsidedown tomato planter and the strawberry planter, mainly because she is addicted to the "As Seen On TV" products. We saw this as a fun experiment and a way to spur her budding interest in gardening. Surprisingly, her plants are doing well. In this day and age of "technology at our fingertips", I'm just glad she cares about plants at all. For years, it seemed she took our backyard garden for granted; reaping the benefits of the fresh produce, but having no interest in the production. Now, she asks lots of gardening questions, loves to help me select plants and seeds, and helps out in our garden.

Carol said...

Thanks for the hearty laugh DP! I love the old fashion way of planting ... and sitting! ;>)

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

I'm sick 'n'tired of standing on my head to read your posts. My sister in law in Oz doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

Tomatoes put out feeder roots from the sides and anchor/moisture roots for depth. The logic is that tomato feed will stay around the feeder roots at the top (now the bottom) and the plant can get the maximum nutrition this way.

Hmmm, we'll see!

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

d.a.--so you can gracefully sidestep this controversy!

Welcome SMH, Good to know the upside-down is filling a need for you.

Roselyn, Hope your tomatoes enjoy their real estate.

Emily, Rob explains all in his comment!

Welcome NeCole! What great news that the planter is turning your daughter into a gardener!

Carol, Yeah, I'm not into gravity boots either.

Rob, Thanks for being our tomato teacher today!

Jenny said...

I understand the reasoning of the upside-down tomatoes, and I sympathize with SMH's situation. Very simple: it makes gravity work for you instead of against you. Finding ways to support big, messy, heavy tomato vines can be a real pain. But...I still think it looks weird! : )

ryan said...

Humans seem to have an inherent desire to manipulate plants. I guess it's better that they're doing it to tomatoes in this instance, instead of making bonsai redwood trees. Green walls (also recently featured in the NY Times) come from the same place, in my opinion, just with bigger budgets.

Andrea said...

People are really fond of doing things unnaturally, but this is torturing tomatoes too much, its normal habit is upright. Why not just make long strings from the planter to the hook! That way the long strings can serve as trellis for them to climb. Plants have this characteristics of totipotency, which is defied by the topsy turvy garden. But for people who aren't doing anything, then let them be happy! hahaha! I am not as sadistic to plants as they are!

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Jenny, Good to have the opinion of a trained hort person. Thanks! I'm going for tomato cages this summer (if summer ever starts in rainy CA).

Ryan, Attacking green walls? Now that is REALLY stirring things up! I hadn't thought about succulent walls as plant torture.

grahamthomas said...

well...i tried it last first it was growing like crazy, then it seemed to stop and appeared stunted, produced one very strange looking tomatoe...and i decided I'd been ripped off. Driving down the street i noticed my neighbor had three and they went through the same stages. Maybe it's where we live, however, the in ground do fantastic. I say, save your money and just plant a tomatoe in a regular hanging planter...gravity will pull it down anyway...i think it's one of those gadgets where the TV model is "juuussst a little bit sharper". Happy gardening to all.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I've seen a few of those Topsy Turvy containers near here, mostly on front porches and patios. Not us though...we're strictly right-side-up folks. I agree, it seems in warmer weather it would be difficult to keep them watered.

Christine B. said...

No upside down tomatoes here. However, if the hubby doesn't keep his ladders and paint out of the shrubbery and perennials, he is liable to end up in an upside down position.

The upside down chair will need a seatbelt, don't you think? My kids would love it.

Christine in Alaska

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Andrea, We can put you in the "rightside-up" column, then.

Lynette, Thanks for the neighborhood report--interesting!

Curbstone Valley Farm, And as a FARM you have lots of room to plant. Wonder what your chickens would make of these tomatoes growing ever closer to them. I bet the chickens give the planter two claws up!

Christine, Ah, lively times in your garden! Seatbelt? I was thinking parachute harness.

Pomona Belvedere said...

I think upside-down hangers are amusing, but I doubt they're actually all that great for the plants. Seems like they'd spend a lot of energy fighting gravitropism (look it up in your F&W).

For container planters who want to save water and time, I'd highly recommend self-watering planters, with little reservoirs. I guess we need someone to make self-watering containers cool - hey, it's just like the upside-down ones: you can plant peppers, strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes...anything that fits, in fact.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Pomona, You old garden tastemaker you: self-watering containers are now hip 'n happenin' thanks to your endorsement ;-) Thanks for the sound advice. Off to check my F&W!

Window On The Prairie said...

Nope. Our tomatoes are traditionalists, are are planted right side up in the garden as we speak. They are putting on little green tomatoes too. Won't be long now.

red studio said...

Customers who come into the nursery are excited about the topsy turvy. One gentleman confided in me that he crafted his own version using a plastic tub suspended from the rafters. I have no objection to upside down plants. It's the ghastly color of the plastic that frightens me!

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Welcome to Suzanne of Window on the Prairie! Checked out your beautiful blog about farm life in Kansas and added you to my Midwestern blog roll. Back to those tomatoes--tradition is what I would have expected from you. Looking forward to seeing tomato pics on your blog.

Red Studio, You said it, sister! You're a professional artist and I am happy to bow to your aesthetic opinion.

Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not too late to get my two bits tossed into the pool.

No offense to anyone who is using these monstrosities but, let's face it: They're stupid. Like you pointed out, they'll need watering twice a day and as your photo points out, [again no offense] they're ugly. Just get a large freaking container already and let the poor plant grow the way God meant for it to. Sheesh. This contraption perpetuates plant abuse and is nothing more than the result of some marketing engineer out to make money off the ignorant public.

Other than this, I don't have any opinion on the matter. LOL