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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to GardeningVegetable Gardening Arrow to GardeningTomatoes

Turning the Tomato-Growing World Upside-Down

Garden Tomatoes courtesy Cornell University, at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NYTomatoes are by far the most grown fruit (yes, “fruit,” not “vegetable”) in home gardens around the world. Nutritionists and health professionals tout the anti-oxidant health benefits of the fruit. Clearly, Americans love tomatoes. Yet most gardeners aren't very enthusiastic about the amount of work involved in successfully growing tomatoes.

It isn't enough to just plant, fertilize and water tomatoes. You must also sucker them, fight off a multitude of garden pests and animals (who love tomatoes as much as we do), support them with stakes and cages, tie them, and then continually retie the plants as they grow. Weeding also is a constant battle. Is it any wonder so many gardeners have thrown in the towel on their battle to produce beautiful and bountiful tomato plants?

Well, if you're a gardener who's developed a love-hate relationship with your tomato plants, things could be looking up for you. Literally. By planting your tomatoes upside down and hanging them (from a deck or patio overhang, clothes line, tree, etc.), you can eliminate nearly all the work and risk involved in growing them the traditional way.

“Americans are rediscovering gardening,” says Bill Felknor, inventor of the Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter. “People love to grow tomatoes, but what can you do if you don't have the space or time for a full-size garden, or your subdivision prohibits gardens?” Felknor, an avid gardener and passionate tomato advocate, invested three years developing a planter that would address and solve all those issues.

Here's how the Topsy Turvy addresses the most common issues of tomato growing:

Room to Grow
For years, people who have no place for a garden – apartment dwellers, senior citizens in residential centers, homeowners with small lots or subdivision restrictions – have tried growing tomatoes in pots. Put them on your deck or patio, and they will either not have enough room to grow, or if they do grow well, they'll over-run your living space.

Hanging the tomato on a deck or patio gives the tomato extra room to grow and keeps it out of your way at the same time. “The tomato actually thrives growing upside-down,” Felknor points out. “One hundred percent of water and nutrients are absorbed, with no lost runoff. The roots directly receive the water and nutrients. And because the Topsy Turvy is in the air, the tomato enjoys full sun access and warming.”

Thwarting Pests
By taking the tomatoes airborne, you remove them from proximity with all ground-dwelling pests. Common tomato foes like cutworms, ground insects and fungus can't reach the plants or fruit. Hang them high enough and they'll also be safe from most animals as well. The Topsy Turvy also eliminates the need to weed since each plant is contained in its own, weed-free environment. The gardener can also sucker, water and fertilize while standing up.

What's at Stake
Since most varieties of tomato grown in American gardens are of the “indeterminate” type – meaning they will continue to grow as long as the season and space allow – they generally have to be tied to stakes to support the weight of the plant and fruit. As the plant grows, the gardener must continually adjust the ties, and sometimes the stakes, to allow for the growth.

Hanging the tomato upside-down eliminates the need for stakes and ties. It also promotes greater stem strength in the plant. The same suckering you would do on an in-ground plant has even greater benefits for your hanging tomato.

Water, Water Everywhere
Adequate watering is probably the single greatest obstacle to growing beautiful tomatoes, Felknor says. Over water a potted tomato and you'll end up with root rot and a dead plant. Water too little – either a potted plant or one in the ground – and your plant will die in the summer sun.

“One of the reasons that it's so hard to adequately water a tomato in the ground is that 85 percent of the water you put on it will never make it to the plant's roots,” Felknor says. Evaporation, weeds and run off all steal water away from the plant.

The patented Topsy Turvy uses simple absorbent containment to help control the flow of water to the roots. This means when your plant is still small, you will probably need to water it just once a week. Advance to twice a week as the plant grows to medium size, and once it reaches “giant” size, you may have to water every day.

Easy Payoff
More than one lovely ripe tomato has gone rotten waiting for someone to pick it off the vine. Bending over, moving around leaves and vines to find a ripe tomato can be a challenge. The Topsy Turvy allows you to pick the fruits of your labor while standing up.

You should start your Topsy Turvy tomato plant at the same time you would put one in the ground, after all risk of frost is gone. However, because of the planter's many advantages, and better exposure to sun, water and nutrients, you can expect to harvest your crop as much as two weeks earlier than in traditional gardens.

“This is a planter, not a growing machine,” Felknor cautions. “You still have to water and fertilize your tomato plant properly. But by giving you a way to grow your tomato plant upside down, we've made all these critical chores so much easier and the payoff sooner.”


To learn how to grow beautiful tomatoes with less work, visit www.topsyturvys.com.

More about growing topsy turvy tomatoes around the Web:

Pros and Cons of Topsy Turvy Tomato Gardening

How to Plant a Topsy Turvy Tomato - eHow

 

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