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topsy turvy question

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topsy turvy question

Post  babru on 4/22/2014, 12:45 pm

I picked up a couple of topsy turvy's at Big Lots for $1 each. What will be a good planting mix for them?
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/22/2014, 1:12 pm

I don't know but will tag along as I bought one about 3 years ago and still haven't used it, LOL!
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  sanderson on 4/22/2014, 1:34 pm

Mel's Mix. I use it in all containers and SFG boxes.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/22/2014, 1:59 pm

I used MM in mine last year. Did fine.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/22/2014, 5:04 pm

I need to have hubby pick up some peat - I have everything else to make some fresh.

Did they stay watered well enough?  That would be my only concern using straight MM.  I was thinking of adding some water holding crystals perhaps in our very dry climate.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/22/2014, 5:28 pm

Those water-holding crystals can work very well in hot climates. Then again, so can MM. At any rate they couldn't hurt.

Those topsy-turvy planters are quite long. Since you water from the top and gravity brings the water all the way down, the water does have an excellent chance to stay permeate the entire depth of the soil and then stay where it is needed. To percolate up from the root ball of the plant, the water has to go through quite a bit of soil.

I found that overwatering was a bigger problem than underwatering. Overwatering makes the soil leak out and get all over your plant, which for any number of reasons is never good. Perhaps it might lead to some stagnation too. It's not as easy to judge how dry the soil is by the root ball when you're using a topsy-turvy, so that can encourage over-watering too. You don't see any water coming out the bottom for a while so it's tempting to keep watering. Soon the water has worked its way down and then you find out you watered too much when it starts leaking all over your plant.

There's a sort of trick to it, then; best is to water moderately and wait a while before watering more. Unlike as is generally the case with container planting, you don't want to water so much that the water comes out the bottom.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/22/2014, 5:52 pm

Thank you for that detailed explanation, Mark.

I'm thinking of hanging one in my greenhouse if I could think of a way to cover the tomato when I need to for the couple of months where we have freezes.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  boffer on 4/22/2014, 6:00 pm

I filled mine with MM. As Marc said, they're difficult to water properly. I tried tomatoes, peppers, and cukes. Disappointing production.

I've got 6 of them gathering dust; free to the first person that comes to get them.
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  FamilyGardening on 4/22/2014, 6:53 pm

we have used them and found that peppers and squash did the best in ours  Very Happy 

we used MM in some and potting soil in the others.....didn't see much of a difference

one thing to consider is the soil does settle quit a bit, so after a few good watering's make sure you top them off ....

you can tell when they need water by how light they feel when you push up the bag....


Sept 2011 Banana Peppers







happy gardening
rose
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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/22/2014, 8:24 pm

I grew lemon cucumbers in mine. They were hit so hard by cucumber beetles, and the subsequent wilt infections the bettles carry, that my production was underwhelming. Which I guess is not so bad when you have so many beetles you're surprised the plant even survived.

I think I'm going to take mine down, though. They don't really save space except in quite particular circumstances, I suppose ... or maybe they're just for people who have no worries about space. The planter is long and its hangers add a few more inches, and then when one adds a plant hanging down, the whole set-up together can take up a lot of the vertical space you have left before you reach the ground. What's left isn't really useful. In case water leaks out, I don't want anything under it.

So if I won't grow something underneath a topsy-turvy, then it takes up its full vertical column of space from floor to sky. Overall, I'm not really creating a new space to grow in, but substituting space up high for space below and still maintaining an effective footprint that's as large as a five-gallon bucket's.

And finally, the planter plus plant together, being up high, create plenty of shade, and for me, sunlight is at a premium.

I don't think the design is inherently unusable, but it has so many limitations and particularities in its uses that it's not very useful to me right now, in the growing space I have.
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Topsy Turvey

Post  GloriaG on 4/24/2014, 10:37 am

FWIW:  This is my 4th year using an upside-down planter.  I grow a small bush variety of tomato.   For aesthetic reasons, the planters hang from the corner of the house and as a result are hit by a lot of wind.

The first year, I used straight MM and had trouble keeping it watered appropriately.  It was either too wet or too dry, never just right.

The second year, I added some of the crystal water holding beads and it helped, but not enough.  I still had trouble keeping water levels even.

The third year I added the water holding crystals but changed the mix by using MUCH more peat and much less compost (which is more dense and drys out differently).  This worked great.  I think that although the compost provides nutrition, the peat is more open and gives better air-flow to the roots which allows for more even drying.  I did have to water with compost tea because of the lower amount of compost.

I've done the same thing this year but it's still too early to tell much yet.

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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  FamilyGardening on 4/24/2014, 4:59 pm

GloriaG would love to see some pictures if you have some and would like to know which tomato did you use that did so well  Very Happy 

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Topsy Turvey

Post  GloriaG on 4/24/2014, 5:34 pm

Hi Rose,

We use "Super Bush" tomatoes.  The plants stay quite compact and the tomatoes have a nice flavor.  Here are some pics from today.  The plants aren't very big yet. 
The planters are from Gardeners Supply.







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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/24/2014, 5:38 pm

Those look much nicer than the topsy-turvies.
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Topsy Turvey

Post  GloriaG on 4/24/2014, 5:43 pm

Yes - and they're only $7 each.

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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/24/2014, 6:14 pm

Is one of yours attached to a scale?
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Topsy Turvey

Post  GloriaG on 4/24/2014, 6:30 pm

Yes - the scale is also are from Gardeners Supply. 
I can't remember exactly, but I think they were about $2.

The planter also has a water reservoir on the top with a wick that runs into the potting mix.  (It's that little white square you see right at the top of the bag by the chain)  You don't really water the potting mix, just add water to the reservoir and it wicks down into the bag.  Saves the plant from having water run down on it.

I find I can use them about two or three times before I have to replace them, depending on how the weather is, etc. (I plant 2 crops each year)

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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/24/2014, 6:47 pm

That sounds like a much better design than the topsy turvy, which merely has an inward-sloping top lid you pour water onto.

I had thought of stuffing a towel over the top of the TT's soil so as to let water enter the soil more slowly. Unhanging it and taking it apart, though is a bit of a bear.
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Topsy Turvey

Post  GloriaG on 4/24/2014, 9:51 pm

Marc,

I'm not very familiar with the topsy turvy design so I can't help you there, but here's the
link to Gardeners Supply. You might like to see their setup.

http://www.gardeners.com/Gardeners-Revolution-Planter/39-338,default,pd.html

Good luck,
Gloria

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Re: topsy turvy question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/25/2014, 4:03 am

Heh, I like to see everybody's set-up. Thanks for the link. Not for me at this point, though; my home doesn't have the geography to make a hanger like that work better than a pot on the ground.
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