Topsy Turvy Tomato tree experiment

 The Topsy Turvy Tomato Tree Experiment

I received the Topsy Turvy and the watering cane last Christmas and have been waiting long and long for spring to come so I could try it out. While I was waiting, the idea came to me that if I shared the experiences of using this product, both pro and con, then you could decide if this is something that you would like to try doing or not.

Unless the whole thing kicks the bucket or a major catastrophe occurs, you can check back here monthly to read how things are going so hit that bookmark thingie and lets get started!


The assembly actually went pretty easy, even though the instructions looked complicated at first glance. My first question: Can it be assembled by someone in a chair? Is answered with a resounding... Um most of it. The base gave me a bit of trouble until I figured out that it has to be done upside down with the pole supported on the ground between the seat and the footrests, after that it went together just fine. The top bag and pole are assembled before sliding onto the base and gave me no trouble. Putting the two poles together was awkward, mostly because you can't get close enough to just slide the top pole in. It did take some effort to get them lined up to slide on but done it was. When it came to adjusting the leveling feet, that required getting down on the ground to do it right. Remember the thing is very top heavy.


Planting was messy, dirty and frustrating.  Seated in a chair, you can just barely reach the top of the bag. Using a plastic cup to bail potting soil into the bag, I dumped and dumped and dumped that dirt over the top. I got dirt in my lap. I got dirt in my hair. There was dirt on the patio and dirt on my feet. There was even dirt down the inside of my shirt. Needless to say, I was pretty dirty at the end of this stage of the project. Besides sprinkling myself liberally with potting soil, there was the added frustration of not being able to see the soil level inside the bag and you have to stop when the soil level is to the bottom of the first set of portals in order to set the first row of plants. Then I found out that it is absolutely impossible to set the plants while sitting. There are little foam circles in the lower portals that have to be popped out and wrapped around the stem of the plant that is going into that portal, then the whole mess is stuck back into the hole, sideways. You'll need someone who can stand up there and set in all the plants and manage the soil levels so all the roots are well covered. The instructions said that it would hold 18 quarts of soil but I found myself hunting for more before the thing was planted completely. Your standing help will need to install the top caps for you also. So the question: Can I plant it from a chair?  Is answered thus... No!


Watering has taken a little practice. There are three holes in the top cap that covers the dirt. Out of those three holes come the wires that support the dirt bag so the trick becomes to get the water around those wires and through the holes (that you can't see) in the top. Plus you have to make sure that all the plants get plenty of water. Tomato plants need daily watering and the occasional shot of miracle grow.  Count on getting your feet splashed a bit when the dirt bag is saturated enough to drain. The watering cane, trickles water instead of spraying like in the picture and has a plastic nob on the end to hang from a hook for hanging plants that actually gets in the way when trying to direct it into those holes. On the plus side, it does reach to the places that I need it to, a valve so you can shut of the water when moving it from one hole to the next and a little compartment on the side to put your miracle grow in to mix in the watering. I did try just watering with a plain old hose and that worked fine although tis a bit of a reach to poke that end through the holes. The answer to the question: Can I water it by myself? Is yes if you have a hose or watering cane.

There you have it! The first installment of the Topsy Turvy Experiment! I will keep you updated as things grow or don't. Until then... Don't be afraid to try something new!

Update #1

As you can see, things are not lost yet!  I lost one basil plant, it was in one of the portals that used a plastic kind of grabber thingie and it just did not like living there. The tomato plants are alive but not growing nearly as well as a tomato plant that is in the ground.  Another thing as you can see is that the plants seem to be growing "up" instead of up-side down like the picture on the box. Strange eh? Some days it is kind of a pain to go out there to care for a bag of dirt with plants growing out of it's sides, but on the plus side, it gets you out in the fresh air, I did get some lovely shots of our resident deer herd and some time to clean bits of patio that haven't seen a broom in quite some time. Because it is a handful of plants in one bag of dirt, they need fertilizer every single week. If you try it and don't have the watering cane, I think it would be wise to get those fertilizer spikes and get someone to jam them in there for you.
Speaking of watering, it is time for me to get my wheels out there and take care of business! Until the next update... Happy planting!

Update #2

Well folks, the Topsy Turvy was a complete and total failure!  Speaking quite frankly, what happened was that I got really sick and could no longer get out there to care for them.  The deer came up and munched off most of the leaves and they kicked the bucket due to neglect and munching... What a horrible way to die!

My conclusion to this experiment was a resounding NO!  While it is possible to grow something with this system, it is not designed to be tended by someone in a wheelchair. If you can afford it, get someone to build you some raised boxes to grow things in or get into container gardening, big pots set on short tables, stumps or whatever works for you. The point being, just because this didn't work is no reason to just not grow plants. If you want to do it you will find a way that works for you.

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