Easy Topsy Turvy Tomatoes for Cheap




Welcome, here's how to make your own Topsy Turvy's for the price of a five gallon bucket, a .99 cent hook, and a tomato plant (if you didn't grow it yourself.)  Indeterminate tomatoes don't stop at a certain height, so planting them upside down should give them a nice, easy way to grow as big as they like.

1) The dirt.  Have it ready to use.

2) The hooks.  Find the spot you will hang the tomato plant.  The south side of your house is probably the best, as it will get the most sun if it isn't shaded.  I drilled out the holes first.

3) Cardboard holders.  These will keep your tomato plant in the bucket.  I cut a couple of squares, approximately 4" x 4" or 10 cm x 10 cm.  Then cut into the middle and make a hole that's big enough that your full grown tomato plant won't be squeezed.

4) The 5 gallon bucket.  Cut a hole in the middle of the bottom, approximately 2" x 2", or 5 cm x 5cm.  My technique was to drill a hole with my largest drill bit, and then get in there with some tin snips to do the cutting.

5) The tomato plant.  Carefully remove from it's previous pot.  Loosen up it's roots, removing all the extra dirt into your dirt supply.  Gently work the roots in from the bottom, supporting the stem while you do.  Now slip a piece of cardboard over the stem, on the inside of the bucket.  Repeat with the second piece turned 90 degrees from the first.  Many times they will wind up interlocking, which is cool but unnecessary.

6) The dirt part 2.  FIRST CHECK THAT THE STEM IS CENTERED IN THE HOLE.  Now for the hardest part, you will need to hold the plant with one hand (or find an assistant) and fill dirt in with the other.

7) Hang it up.  Pat yourself on the back.  Water, and enjoy tomatoes in a few months!

Two notes:  I would rather do this with clay containers, but was in a hurry.  Clay is better than plastic for plants, and because I did this in plastic it can't be called biodynamic.

If you want to know when to transplant, and discover all sorts of secret powers, check out the Stella Natura biodynamics calendar.  I'm not associated with them, but think they are awesome.

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    9 Discussions

    Roy Glen Gilliam

    6 years ago

    I've tried doing this every year for 3 years, then gave up. The first problem is all the moister from the water falls down to the stem, it causes the plant to rot next to the bucket. Another problem is that insects start eating where the moister is. Another problem is the plant will not produce well hanging upside down. The biggest problem is it don't grow straight down, it starts to grow then strait up....

    4 replies

    Thanks Roy, I'll be careful on the moisture bit. I'm in a pretty arid region, not today, but a little later in the season. Have you used a normal Topsy Turvey and had the same issue?

    As for being upside down, my plant produced last year, here's hoping for a bigger harvest this time!

    I found out the problem I had with the plants - they didn't produce; because the flowers were in direct sunlight. It got too hot for them, looks like you have some shade during the hot part of the day, well done...

    These have started growing upwards as well, which is odd. They didn't do it last year when I was using the commercial topsy turvy system. I don't see why they wouldn't then and did now, though.

    I recommend some Dark colored Plastic Spray Paint. (Terracotta brown or flat black) The success of the Upside down planter is reliant on the heating of the roots by the sun. This gives those Extra large and healthy "hot house" leaves, and it's esthetically pleasing.

    After more time I'm seeing that even the cardboard parts are retaining more moisture than I'd like. Thanks for pointing this out so that I could be watching for it.

    I'm going to drill some holes in the sides today, near the bottom, making them more like a normal pot. I'll edit the Instructable with the extra step if it helps them dry out.

    Thanks again!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I've had tons of success with top see turvys. I like to grow Chery tomatoes the best because I can harvest some nearly every day for the entire growing season. Also grown green peppers and jalapeños..gonna try using a bucket and saving $5.