The end of Topsy
It’s time to pull the plug on the Topsy Turvy experiment.
With one day left in September, our sad little upside-down Roma tomato is unhappily clinging to life by a few spindly stalks. We did get three tomatoes off of it. So there you go.
The Topsy Turvy, which is basically a bag with holes in both ends and a hanger, is the invention that took the gardening world by storm this season. The idea: You fill the bag with soil, position a tomato plant in the bottom and hang it up for a life upside down.
Although this makes an appealing metaphor for our own lives this year, I can’t say it was a success. The tomato did not, in fact, grow like Topsy.
The advertisers claimed plants would grow better in the contraption because nutrients would flow more easily to the plant with the help of gravity. And the root system would “explode” by being up in the warm sunlight.
We looked upon these claims with severe skepticism. God and evolution designed plants to grow up and roots to grow down, and it seemed a bit arrogant to assume a $10 purchase from Home Depot could improve on that. My bet was that the stalks would make a U-turn and grow upwards anyway, and that the roots would suffer from heat and dryness in the sun.
Since planting the Topsy Turvy, I’ve been told that commercial gardeners actually do grow tomatoes upside down in greenhouses. I even came across some hanging upside down–but not in a Topsy Turvy–in a communal garden in my neighborhood.
Some of my predictions came true. Our Topsy Turvy tomato stalk did start a U-turn towards its natural habit. But then the weight of the leaves and tomatoes pulled it back down to earth. (Another life metaphor?)
But the real reason it failed was the constant need for water. I found the upside-down system seems to need even more water than would a tomato potted in the usual way. If the regular garden was still damp from rain the day before, the Topsy Turvy would need water. If we went out of town for a weekend, it would need a water-sitter. And folks, we’re not that perfect.
The tomatoes we got were smaller, but they didn’t taste any different.
Conclusion: Sorry Topsy Turvy, but next time we get the urge to put a tomato in a pot, we’ll do it the usual way.
Here’s one farewell picture.
Posted by: Roxie