Planting season is in full swing in many areas so I thought I’d cover one of the more frequently asked questions I get about balcony gardens. The question is whether those hanging tomato planters such as the widely advertised Topsy Turvy works. As you have seen, I have tried this planter myself. (Please note: I do not have a financial interest in the Topsy Turvy, nor do I endorse the product – it is just something that I experimented) Not only did I buy the large size planter, I bought the entire stand and placed it on the balcony.
The small bags that you see in the ads have a hole in the bottom of the bag where the tomato plants grow out from. The large bag that I purchased had holes along the sides. According to their website, here is how it works:
“As the sun warms the plant like a greenhouse, the root system explodes and thrives inside the planter. Because Topsy Turvy® tomato planter is upside down, water and nutrients pour directly from the root to the fruit, giving you up to 30 pounds of deliciously ripe tomatoes per plant!”
To get started, you fill the bag with potting soil. I then planted a tomato plant out of each hole, sticking out of the bag, with the roots well situated in the soil. Try not to break disturb the roots as much as possible. Water the soil as soon as you plant the tomatoes. You will need to check the soil dryness the next day, and water accordingly.
Did it work?
I can’t say that I got 30 pounds of tomatoes per plant as indicated in the website, but I did get a decent harvest weekly (about five to six tomatoes) for about five weeks. It was exciting to find new tomatoes growing daily. Being able to harvest them right out of your balcony was a big thrill.
Tomato plants do need a lot of care, especially if you do not have an automatic water source such as a sprinkler system.
- They needed to be watered daily, as it gets really hot and humid in our area. Try the low tech drip irrigation I featured on this post.
- Because the plant is in a bag, in a balcony, you will still need to water it even if rains as not enough rain gets in the bag.
- To protect from birds that make their nest in apartment balconies, I bought mesh plastic tenting from the garden center. The mesh also seemed to protect against larger insects such as beetles and moths.
- Fertilize weekly – I used Miracle Grow and that worked for me but you may prefer more organic fertilizers.
- You will find that the leaves tend to turn yellow closer to the root. Remove dead leaves as you see them.
I was happy about how the planter worked during our growing season. However, don’t count on the planter lasting longer. The bag is plastic after all. When the tomato plants died out in the fall, I removed the dead plants but left the planter out in the balcony. We do not have any other room for it in the unit. With the winds, rain, and freezing temperatures in the winter, the planter got torn sitting out in the elements after a while. It was no longer useable for the following spring. There are several ways to make the hanging planter yourself, some of them quite inexpensive. We know that growing tomatoes upside down works so go give it a try!