I have a little bet going this season, with the makers of the “Topsy Turvy.”
You know the Topsy Turvy. It’s one of this season’s hottest garden inventions–a bag that hangs from a hook and allows you to grow tomatoes upside down. (If you haven’t heard of it, go here to watch the commercial.
All those commercials have made the Topsy Turvy the gardening world’s Sham Wow or Pocket Fisherman. It’s new, it looks a little crazy and by golly, it seems like the makers have a convincing argument. Use gravity and the sun to keep the plant watered and the roots warm. Why wouldn’t it work?
I’ve been watching Topsy Turvys pop up on balconies and back decks in our neighborhood all spring. When we finally made it to Home Depot to buy ours, the slightly aggravated sales clerk said, “Oh my gosh. Did we sell out of them again?” (They hadn’t. Someone had just moved the last few.)
Alas, I am a Topsy Turvy skeptic. I don’t think tomatoes will grow anywhere near as well in this contraption as they do in the position God intended. Here are my reasons:
1) Tomatoes, like most other plants, are evolved to grow up and down. The stems are supposed to go up. The roots are supposed to go down. I don’t think flipping the container over will change that. I bet that once the plant is established, the stems will try to turn and grow upright, and the roots will seek their natural place at the bottom of the container, where water is likely to pool.
2) Take a look at a tomato leaf. Its two sides are different in color and texture. One side catches the sun, the other doesn’t. If the plant is upside down, the wrong side will be sunward.
3) The advertising claims that water and the sun’s warmth on the bag will cause the roots to (stand back) “explode!” But summers around here can be very, very hot. We spend a lot of energy getting grass clippings down just to keep the soil cool and moist. I think the roots will cook in that plastic bag in the sun.
4) Growing upside down doesn’t solve the staking problem. If you plant a tall type of tomato, the fruit is just as likely to be on the ground.
5) The tomato leaves provide protection from the sun and somewhat from animals. An upside-down plant puts the fruit on the outside, fully exposed to sun scald and squirrels. (Although the squirrels would find a way to get about any kind of tomato.)
Sorry to rain on your parade, Topsy Turvy, but I don’t think your product will work. Rather than just be killjoys, however, Mike and I have decided to put it to the test. We bought ours (a $10 version that doesn’t come with a stand) and set it up yesterday. I even gave Topsy Turvy an advantage by planting one of my leftover Romas. They’re paste tomatoes that don’t grow especially tall and have lighter fruit than some of the heavy hitters, like Celebrity or Jet Star.
We’ll take good care of it and check in later this summer. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy to admit it to everyone and do a little humiliating dance, if necessary.
Meantime, here it is, a few feet away from the rest of the tomatoes in our garden.
Posted by: Roxie