Update: Upside-Down Tomato Planters

Tumbler Tomatoes

This year I made three hanging planters and tried the “Topsy Turvy” method of growing tomatoes. Topsy Turvy is a brand name which has become associated with this type of planter, but there are other brands and numerous self-made models on the web, including my design in my April 2010 blog post.

See April 2010 Making an Upside Tomato Planter

Down Having done some research on cultivars to use, I opted for the Tumbler tomato because of its suitability to growing in containers. In my raised beds I planted a Tumbler among my regular Roma tomatoes to use as a comparison.

Two of the three plants in my upside down planters have done remarkably well; the third has suffered from poor rooting from day one. I suspect that I didn’t plant it deep enough initially, as it has never thrived. It has produced a number of tomatoes despite it lack of vitality, but it’s hanging on (literally) by a straggly thread.

A clear disadvantage to the reverse planter is that it requires a significant amount of watering as compared to the traditional method. This would be expected given that the water can run out and/or evaporate from the bottom of the planter with relative ease. I’m sure much of the water consumption could be attributed to the voracious thirst of the wave petunia I placed in the top of each planter; the petunias have grown to produce a massive display of colorful blooms.

On the positive side, I’ve had no problem with any of the typical disease and pests that affect the plants grown in the ground. My traditionally-grown plant is similar in size but spotted with a mild case of blight.

I’ve been feeding my tomatoes on a regular “Fertilizer Friday” schedule, despite having used a high quality planting soil with fertilizer incorporated. Tomatoes can be fairly heavy feeders, particularly while they are producing.

Overall I’ve been happy with the outcome. I’ve been plucking fruit on a daily basis since late June and there appears to be no end in sight to the flowering. My Romas won’t be ready for several more weeks, so having the bite-size Tumblers to munch on is a treat.

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

July 2010

These planters were filled in May with one wave petunia

These wave petunias have been outstanding

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Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter

 

 

This year I decided I wanted own an upside down tomato planter, similar to the Topsy Turvy planters seen in magazines and on TV. With the price as high as $20 for a single planter, I had to figure out a way I could make one for far less. I wanted it to look nice and be functional, but not break the bank. 

I bought some green waterproof fabric at the discount fabric store for $2.50 a meter. It was great to work with because it had no fray. I also purchased a 90 cm package of no-name velcro at the dollar store for a buck. 

I had a 23 cm (9 inch) peony ring (plant support) that I wasn’t using and I thought would work perfectly for the upper support. At the dollar store there were also some  25 cm wire hanging baskets which would have worked nicely and were only $1.50, but I didn’t buy them. If I hadn’t had the peony ring I would have used a wire coat hanger or two.

Using  C= pi x d , I calculated that I needed approximate 73.5cm of fabric for the circumference and I added 2.5 cm for the seam allowances and 1 cm for flexibility for a total of  77 cm. I cut out a piece of fabric 77cm by 66cm.

I folded over 5 cm along the long side of the fabric and pressed it. This would become the top of the planter. I made three buttonholes 25 cm apart along this folded edge, with one of them 1.5 cm from the end. Between the buttonholes I sewed an upper row of velcro and a lower row of velcro, each 24 cm long.

I sewed the side seam, making sure to leave the buttonhole near the edge just outside the seam. Then I folded over the bottom seam of the planter 2 cm and sewed a hem leaving an opening large enough to insert a cord.

Instead of a cord I found a plastic cable tie that I thought would work  just as well. I ran it through the pocket at the bottom and cinched it up to make about a 5 cm hole.

I put the peony ring between the upper and lower velcro, folding a flap over and securing the velcro to itself. The three legs of the peony ring were threaded through the buttonholes. All I had to do was make a bend at the top of each leg and I had a three evenly spaced hooks to hang my tomato planter from.

Voila: only $3.50 for my tomato planter and I think it looks as good or better than the store bought version. I plan to plant a tomato in the bottom and perhaps a wave petunia in the top.