Califonia Bountiful

Gardening: Turn your world upside down

July/Aug. 2008 California Country magazine

With a Topsy Turvy planter, you can grow tasty tomatoes while conserving garden or balcony space.

With so many tasty treats in the summer garden, it’s difficult to pick a favorite. If forced to choose, however, I’d have to choose tomatoes. There is a tomato to please every palate—and they’re fairly easy to grow. All you need is a little sun and a little space. What? No garden space? No patio? Not even a balcony? If that’s the case, it’s time I turned your world upside down.

Topsy Turvy is a planter that you can put anywhere it will get at least a few hours of full sun. Then, without using any floor space, you, too, can grow tasty tomatoes. Instead of planting on top of this container, you plant your tomatoes upside down, hanging out the bottom with the soil above. Add a slow release fertilizer when planting and water as needed from the top.

You can grow most any type of tomato this way. With determinate varieties, the fruit ripens all at once, making them perfect if you need the entire crop ready at the same time. I prefer indeterminate types, which grow, bloom, fruit, bloom, fruit and keep producing all summer long. These types will produce less fruit at any one time, but for a much longer period.

Lemon Boy is a yellow, medium-sized tomato with great flavor. Not only are they perfect in a BLT, they make an incredible sandwich all by themselves. The best cherry tomato I have found is the Sungold. These small orange tomatoes are bursting with sweet flavor and a favorite to snack on right from the bush. Another favorite is a variety called Momotaro. This pinkish tomato has a firm, almost crunchy texture and outstanding flavor. As you know, taste is subjective. If you don’t like these, try any of the hundreds of other types available.

You can also use the Topsy Turvy to grow other vegetables and herbs. Experiment with a few and have some fun. For more information, visit To order, visit or call 866-533-1123. Cost is $19.99 plus postage and handling.

Gardening to-do list for July/August

Check sprinklers to make sure plants are being properly watered. Before you know it, a clogged emitter can mean a dead plant this time of year.

Water established plants for longer periods of time (deeper) less often. Established plants are those that have been through at least two summers in the ground.

Keep root zones cool and moist with a layer of at least 2 inches of compost or bark, but don’t cover trunk or branches. This will mean less overall watering and a happier plant.

Watch for signs of infestation and control immediately. Watch for curling leaves, holes in leaves, sticky shiny goo on leaves and black sooty mold on leaves. If you don’t know what the problem is, bring a leaf/insect sample to a local nursery for identification and proper control.

As always, hose down plants at least a couple of times per month. This will inhibit buildup of pest populations.

Don’t forget to fertilize your plants, especially fruit, citrus and bloomers. It takes a lot of energy to produce fruit and flowers. Make sure they have it.

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