Tomato Bounty Custom

Topsy Turvy: Ugly as Stink But Good Tomatoes

Topsy Turvy Tomato Collage (Custom)

 I grew Topsy Turvy Tomatoes last year on my garage.  I put 2 tomato plants (as they recommended) in each of my 3 planters and got only about 15 cherry tomatoes and 4 regular tomatoes. I also tried a zucchini plant which didn’t grow any fruit.  I think that there were a number of factors working against me last year: weather, soil, type of tomato, staking, and watering.

Here is how I did it differently this year:

Weather: Last year it was a cold and rainy summer, this year, so far it has been warm and sunny.

Soil: Last year I used coconut coir and topsoil with a bit of manure, this year I have used ½ compost from my garden, 1/2 organic vegetable mix, and a handful of complete organic fertilizer for each planter.

Tomato Bounty

Tomato bounty from upside down planters (cherry) & early coast plants (Siletz) from front flower beds

Type of Tomato: Last year I used 2 types of cherry tomato and a beefsteak.  This year I bought tomato seeds meant for containers because they produce on small plants (Tumbler Cherry, Sweet Heart Grape tomatoes, and Gold Nugget Cherry).  I still have 2 tomato plants in each planter, but this is working a whole lot better this year.  The Tumbler is setting a lot of fruit, and the gold nugget is nice and bushy with small leaves.  The only one that is too leggy and not setting fruit yet is the Sweet Heart Grape.  I got these all at West Coast Seeds.

Staking: Last year the tomatoes grew up towards the sun then got heavy or wind blown and the main stalk would break or crack.  This year, I’ve staked the plants downwards.

Watering: last year I would water from the top of the planter as recommended, and the water would run right through, taking all the soil nutrients with it and getting soil all over the leaves and fruit.  This year I have put pop bottle watering spikes filled with sand to slow release the water over 12 hours.

The result: so far so good.  After a sunny and average temperature June, I have lots of little tomatoes and steady healthy growth.  No yellowing or drooping, the leaves are bright green, and they are setting fruit in healthy clusters.  My next step will be pruning them.  And the final step? Bruchetta, and salad, and salsa, and pasta, and omelets, and…

About the Author : StephanieAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie

  1. Stevie
    StevieSeptember 19,09

    Topsy Turvy Update: Still Ugly, but the Tomatoes are Yummy

    And a sucess it was! In August and September, I have had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with. It’s mid- September, and they are still going strong. I walk by and pick a few off for snacks, cook some, freeze some, dry some, and give them away and still I have tons leftover.

    So now I spend my rockin’ weekends putting them by in various ways. These Sweet Heart Grape Heirlooms are so sweet and meaty that I just couldn’t bear freezing them. So the lucky fellas got oven-dried overnight and will be preserved in olive oil for pizzas and pasta.

    Recipe here: http://gardentherapy.ca/?p=252

  2. rebecca sweet
    rebecca sweetSeptember 22,09

    I love this post! I’ve always wondered if those things really work! Thanks for the photos and your specific results – will definitely let other know about this, as many clients have asked me….

  3. Kat
    KatMarch 20,10

    I’m glad I saw your link to this on your post about the hanging strawberry planter. I had wondered how well these worked and also about whether or not the plants would try to grow towards the light. It looks like your staking is working beautifully.

  4. Eric
    EricApril 3,11

    Can you elaborate a little more on your watering system? We are having many of the same problems you mentioned but I don’t quite understand how your system works.
    What kind of sand do you use? What keeps the sand from flushing right out into the planter?

  5. Stevie
    StevieApril 3,11

    Eric, I use watering spikes from Lee Valley Tools and fill them up with some sand to slow down the water release. Here is the link: http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?c=&cat=2,2280,54307&p=62806

  6. Eric
    EricApril 3,11

    Definitely going with the drip system and staking our plants downward.
    Thanks for the tips and the quick response!

  7. Lynne
    LynneJune 8,14

    I have a question as my upside down tomatoes had the same problem of the water running out and I will definitely try the water spikes. How do you get the water into the bottles? There must be a better way than taking them out each day and removing the spike to fill. Is there a hole in the top? Also, I have germinated black krim this year, will they be too big for the topsy turvy containers?

  8. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 8,14

    Hi Lynne, I cut a hole in the bottom of the soda bottle (which is the top when it’s used as a watering spike. I fill that and it drains into the planter slowly. I think black krim will be too large, but you may get a handful of fruit from it.

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