How to Plant a "Topsy Turvy" Tomato
If you are thinking about buying or have already purchased a "Topsy Turvy" planting system you will need to figure out where to hang it and choose which tomato variety to plant into it. In the following steps you will find a few extra tips that are not included in the product instructions that will guide you through the process.
Decide where you will hang it. Tomatoes need full sun but with a hanging planter some shade at least on the root bag is better, especially on hot summer days. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is probably the best. Optimum is if the bag is always out of direct sunlight but the plant receives full sun at least 6 hours per day. How high you hang it depends on the type of tomato plant you buy. Determinate patio type tomatoes are stocky and won't grow very tall (long). Cherry type and indeterminate types can grow quite tall (long). Most plant tags will give this information about variety characteristics.
Buy a tomato plant to grow in it. Using the above guidelines, pick the variety of tomato plant you will be growing. The hole at the bottom of the planter that you will insert the plant root ball through is only 2.5" in diameter. Pick a plant that is growing in a small enough pot that you can fit the root ball through the opening without damaging the roots.
Harden off the young tomato plant. Plants do not naturally grow in an upside down position so giving your young tomato seedling a few days to acclimate to the new conditions will help it adjust more quickly. Plants purchased from garden centers have been grown in optimum conditions by greenhouse growers and are usually in protected lower light conditions at the store. If the planter will be hanging in direct sunlight most of the day it will cause damage to the plant when it suddenly receives full sunshine on the undersides of the leaves. One way to adjust the plant to its new conditions, before transplanting, is to lay it on its side for a few days. Do this in the sun near where it will be growing. The plant will begin to turn itself toward the sun and will be in a better position when is planted and hung up.
Choose a potting mix to fill it. Any good draining general planting mix should be ok. Some mixes are also available that are specifically prepared for tomatoes and vegetables. Check the information on the bag of mix to see if it is recommended to be used for potted plants. Also, check to see if it has slow release or other fertilizers added to it. You will need to set up a liquid fertilizer regime or add slow release fertilizers if the mix doesn't already have any added.
Drill a hole to insert the hook provided. Pick a beam or support that is strong enough to hold the weight of a full sized plant, media and water. Leave enough space between the hook and surrounding plants or structures to allow for the size of a mature tomato plant and the "Topsy Turvy" plant bag.
Place the tomato seedling in the planter. Lay the "Topsy Turvy" on its side and put the root ball of the tomato plant through the bottom hole per instructions. Then place the foam insert around the stem, from the inside, to hold it in place. If the plant is a little leggy it can be planted deeper than it was growing in the pot and more roots will form along the stem.
Fill with potting media. This is the tricky part. The planter holds approximately 1/2 cubic foot of potting media. You will either need to have someone hold it for you while you are filling or you can lay it on its side and roll and fill as much as you can before you hang it. The bag, plus the cables and plant will be about 2.5 feet tall and can not be set down or it will damage the young plant.
Hang the planter. It will be heavy now because of the weight of the potting mix and you will most likely need a ladder to reach the hook. It is best to have someone assist you by holding the ladder and handing you the plant. They can also help support the bottom of the planter while you are hanging it on the hook.
Add water. Do this after you hang it so you will not be lifting the extra weight of the water too. The easiest way to water the hanging planter is to use a water wand extension for your hose. Water until the water starts to drain out the holes in the bottom.
Because of the weight of the filled bag the wind doesn't seem to be much of a problem. After transplanting it can also be hung from a tree or in a shady covered area for a few days before placing it in full sun. This will give the leaves some time to turn around to the new position.
When using a ladder or lifting heavy objects get assistance to prevent accidents and injuries.