WichitaKS -

Is the right way to grow tomatoes really upside down?

The "Topsy Turvy" hanger claims to be the easiest growing device for the plants and perfect for your balcony or patio.  The $10 planter says expect fabulous tomatoes from it all season long. 

Our friends at the Extension Office are truly the "Master Gardeners" and the ones we pick to put it to the test.

Extension Agent Rebecca McMahon plants a cherry tomato plant in the first "Topsy Turvy" and another plant of the same variety in a traditional hanging basket. 

Next she plants a bigger tomato variety in our second "Topsy Turvy" and the same kind of plant as well in the ground in the office's garden .  All the plants go in the same day.

Ten weeks later we have our answers!

The cherry tomatoes in the "Topsy Turvy" look pretty good.  In fact, they're better than the other hanging basket of the same variety.

However, Rebecca can't say the same thing about the larger tomato plant.  The one planted in the Topsy Turvy has produced several tomatoes, but every one has blossom-end rot.  That's a disease that makes the bottom of the fruit mushy. 

Rebecca says it's because she had a tough time keeping enough water in each of the "Topsy Turvy's".  They dried out fast, and the water wanted to run out the bottom.

In comparison, the larger variety of tomatoes planted in the ground look amazing.  They've already had two tomatoes ripen enough to pick.  And there's no blossom-end rot to worry about.

Does It Work?

Rebecca says if at all possible, plant your tomatoes in the ground.  If that's not possible for you, you can use the Topsy Turvy as a last resort.  But she says she'd recommend you plant only cherry tomatoes.

We bought our "Topsy Turvy's" at Towne West, but you can also find them at some Walgreens, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.