After moving to a beachside home, I soon discovered that gardening near the ocean is no easy feat. Between the sandy soil, gusty tropical winds and salty air, environmental conditions are not conducive to happy plants.
To learn more about beachside gardening I consulted with owners of two local nurseries. Both suggested using the Topsy Turvey® upside down tomato and vegetable planters. These unique planters are constructed of a vinyl fabric cylinder and held together by plastic lids.
It is important to purchase small tomato and vegetable plants when using the Topsy Turvey planter. The plants are inserted through a small hole in the bottom of the container and a plastic ring placed around the root system. If the plants are too big and forced into the upside down planter, permanent damage could be caused. I learned this the hard way.
Putting the Topsy Turvey planter together is much easier with a helper. It’s rather cumbersome to fill with dirt on your own. However, the overall process is relatively simple. Take it out of the box, pull the bottom to expand, and insert plastic rings and sponges.
Remove the plant from its container, turn it upside down and insert through the tube, being careful not to break stems and leaves. Cap with the plastic ring and insert the water sponge. Fill with dirt, attach the plastic lid and hang from a balcony, deck or planter pole.
The Topsy Turvey planters require a substantial amount of dirt. We used two cubic yards to fill three planters. Once filled, Topsy Turvey’s are quite heavy. It is important to have adequate support when hanging the planters. In addition to dirt weight, high-yielding tomato and vegetable plants can add up to 30 pounds.
When using Topsy Turvey vegetable planters at the beach position in areas that are shielded from excessive winds and obtain morning sun. The last thing you want is 50 pounds of tomatoes and dirt to come crashing through your patio door during a tropical storm.
If you don’t have a good area to hang Topsy Turvey planters, consider using planter poles. Again, consider weight factors and purchase heavy duty poles.
I planted slicing tomatoes, grape tomatoes and green bell pepper plants in Topsy Turvey containers. The slicing tomato plant was too large and incurred damage. Due to my lack of upside down gardening education, it has taken over a month for it to rebound.
The green bell pepper plant was attacked by aphids. I didn’t realize the tiny white-green specks were bugs and by the time I figured it out, the bell pepper plant was severely damaged. Research led me to a remedy of Dawn dishwashing liquid and water. The directions were to add one tablespoon of Dawn to one quart of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and thoroughly wash the leaves. After two applications the aphids were gone and have never returned. The pepper plant is beginning to make a comeback and has produced one decent sized pepper. At present, four new pepper buds have appeared.
The grape tomato plant has gone wild and presently has 73 green teardrops and dozens of yellow flowers. The gardening experts said grape and Roma tomatoes yield the best crops in this area and they were right.
Overall, my experience with the Topsy Turvey upside down gardening system has been very satisfactory. As the plants continue to grow they are easier to prune and examine. Better yet, the Topsy Turvey planters completely eliminate the need for weeding.
The only downside of the hanging vegetable planters is they are difficult to water. Our Topsy Turvey planters hang from the deck and require a ladder to use a watering can. My next gardening investment will be a watering wand that I can attach to the garden hose.