Solutions for Self-Reliance

Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter

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You have probably already heard of the Topsy Turvy with the countless amount of infomercials that are ran.

The Topsy Turvy by Felknor Ventures was the very first tomato planter of its kind, but today many others have sprouted from this simple design. It’s an upside down planter that allows gardeners to grow tomatoes and other similar fruits and vegetables indoors and off the ground.

This tool was created mainly to fill a need in the personal tomato growing industry, and the sole purpose of this device was to give the gardener a break by not having to prop up the branches of the tomato plant when the tomatoes grew too large.

An added benefit is that you can make use of more vertical space, which is perfect if you don’t have much growing space.

However, the main downfall is that it is not the easiest to setup. I have tested the Topsy Turvy extensively and here are my thoughts on this product.

Performance – 7

The Topsy Turvy does exactly what it said it was going to do, which is help grow tomatoes for you faster and with ease. This product is quite simple, you place your plant inside and hang it upside down. Quite simple, right? In the directions that come with this item, you will find a handful of tips to help you get the best tasting tomatoes possible and they must be followed to get the desired results.

The one downfall that I found with the Topsy Turvy is that it requires much more water than a plant inside a planter or in the ground. The reason for this is the fact that the plant is inside of a plastic casing and upside down, which causes the soil to dry up much faster if not watered regularly.

On another note, putting too much soil into the Topsy Turvy will cause your roots to dry up very quickly. This happens because many people place 8-10 inches of soil in the bag and this means you have 10 inches of soil that needs to be moist in order for the plant to get any water.

Do yourself a favor and follow the advice inside the manual or else you could ruin every plant that you place in the Topsy Turvy.

Construction Quality – 5

The construction of this product is a bit lax. I found that the product wasn’t as durable as I wanted it to be, but, it did perform as expected. The body of the Topsy Turvy is made out of a thin plastic liner similar to that of an inflatable water toy.

The top of the planter has a durable plastic ring around it, which makes attaching wire or rope around it quite simple. All in all, this planter is built decent enough for the job it was made for, but I do see a few areas in which it could be improved.

One particular area is longevity. During my research I found several accounts where consumers have said that the quality of the Topsy Turvy has deteriorated during its rise to popularity both in terms of durability of the material and included accessories.

Ease Of Use – 4

If you have ever seen the commercial for the Topsy Turvy then you know how simple it is to use. Wrong – The Topsy Turvy was not easy to setup. The problem with this item is that you have a 2.5 inch hole that you need to get your tomato plant through, and that doesn’t happen without putting your plant in danger.

Topsy Turvy Bottom

Getting the plant into the body of the Topsy Turvy wasn’t hard, but getting the entire plant out the bottom hole of the planter was difficult with just one person. This is actually a 2 person process, so don’t try this alone. Here is what a 63 year old grandmother from Idaho had to say;

“The idea of the Topsy Turvy is great, but the small hole on the bottom caused me to break 3 of my plants before getting one to finally go through without any issues”.

Once the plant is through the bottom hole, the rest is quite simple. All you do next is fill the body of the planter with dirt and then hang it in a well-lit area.

This may sound simple to some people, but it is not for everyone. The planter can be very heavy when filled with dirt so, again, it’s really a two person job. Plus you’ll have to find a place that’s actually sturdy enough to hold the weight. I’ve heard of more than one account where the Topsy Turvy has crashed down from its hanging place and obliterated the tomato plant in the process.

My advice to anybody that plans on getting a Topsy Turvy is to make sure you replant the tomato plant when it is still small. By doing this you will avoid losing a plant due to the branches breaking. Also, when you replant the tomato plant it is a good idea to add moist soil, this helps the new soil and old soil mesh together.

Maintenance – 5

As far as maintenance on the Topsy Turvy, well, there is very little aside from the usual maintenance associated with growing tomatoes. The Topsy Turvy was designed in a way that it doesn’t require much maintenance on the product itself.

As far as the plants that you put inside of the planter, they will constantly need maintenance done to them. Don’t think for a second that you can place a plant inside this upside down planter and it will grow, it still has to be watered, fertilized, and tended to on a regular basis.

The reason why the Topsy Turvy is rated at a 5 is because growing tomatoes in the Topsy Turvy requires more watering than if you do it the natural way, and overall it requires more supervision.

One upside though is that you don’t have to worry about slugs and some other common pests that can attack your in-ground tomato plants.

Brand Reputation – 4

The maker of the Topsy Turvy is Felknor Ventures, a Knoxville, Tennessee company. Felknor Ventures was started in 2005, the same day that the Topsy Turvy began. Yes, this company was created because of the potential success of this one product, and they’ve sure succeeded with the marketing.

The company as a whole might not be a household name, but the Topsy Turvy name is. Topsy Turvy was the first upside down planter to gain such recognition throughout the United States.
Nowadays, there are multiple upside down planters, but none of them have built a name like Topsy Turvy has. If you spend an hour watching late night television, then you are bound to see an infomercial about the Topsy Turvy and that is how it got its start.

My impression of Felknor Ventures is that their company has been built on great marketing rather than on the quality of their product. I’m not putting the Topsy Turvy down (well maybe a little), but with the disproportionate amount of negative reviews out there something tells me the Topsy Turvy is not the wonder product it claims to be.

Guarantee – 2

When you buy a Topsy Turvy you are not getting much of a guarantee. The Topsy Turvy comes with a 90 day manufacturer’s warranty as long as it is purchased through a store, but nothing after that. In the event that the product rips, breaks, or falls apart in any way, you can send it back for a refund. Now, if this happens outside of the 90 days, then you are stuck with nothing.

Now, if you buy it through the Topsy Turvy website, then you get no warranty whatsoever. Although this doesn’t come with a warranty, it is cheap so you won’t be out much.

Sustainability – 3

As I said before, this product is made up of plastic so making these comes at a very small price. Being that plastic is not a natural product, it can be made on demand, which makes the availability of this product quite stable.

On the flip side the production and use of this product is far from “in harmony” with nature because it’s made of plastic and above all because the Topsy Turvy promotes a highly unnatural way of growing tomatoes. Ever since the first tomato seed sprouted the plant has grown in the dirt reaching up for the sun, and there’s nothing natural about forcing a plant to grow upside down.

Also, you will have problems with the Topsy Turvy within a few seasons. Being that the Topsy Turvy is made out of thin plastic it will not last a long time. With the constant watering, vast amount of sunlight, and the weight of the plant and soil, the Topsy Turvy will rip at some point.

With this in mind, planting in the ground or inside of a ceramic planter is much more sustainable. In fact the Topsy Turvy is a highly unsustainable way of growing tomatoes if you’re in it for the long term.

Self-Reliance – 4

Do you rely heavily on grocery stores to have vegetables every time you go into one? If so, then you are relying way too much on somebody else. Being self-reliant is a must for anybody in this day and age. The Topsy Turvy helps you become self-reliant.

For less than $20 you can buy the Topsy Turvy, tomato seeds, soil, and fertilizer for an entire year. Now, how much would it cost you to buy tomatoes for an entire year at your local market?

So if you don’t have much growing space and the only way to grow tomatoes is by getting them off the ground, then the Topsy Turvy can help you.

But compared to growing tomatoes the usual way, in the ground or in a ceramic planter, does the Topsy Turvy bring anything to the table in terms of self-reliance?
Nope. It does not.

In fact compared to natural growing methods you’ll decrease your self-reliance using the Topsy Turvy because you’ll have to buy new Topsy Turvys year after year as your old ones break.

Value – 6

The Topsy Turvy costs a mere $4.89 on Amazon, so you don’t risk much by giving it a try.
The price of tomatoes change quite a bit from season to season, so being able to grow your own in the comfort of your home makes it that much better.

Growing your own tomatoes will help you save money, while being able to grow the tomatoes to your satisfaction.

Not only is the value there for the Topsy Turvy tomato planter, it can grow other things as well. Being that this upside down planter can grow multiple items, it makes it much more useful. Maybe you want to grow peppers. If so, then the Topsy Turvy can do that for you as well.

Growing tomatoes regularly in soil is still a great idea, but for some people, myself included, don’t have the space to do this. So for me and many others the Topsy Turvy represent good value.

But if you have plenty of growing space on the ground, then I think you’ll be better off growing the tomatoes as nature intended.

Excitement – 7

When I first purchased my Topsy Turvy I was excited to get it because I was very limited on space. A few months later I bought my whole family Topsy Turvy’s as well, and they were ecstatic to put theirs to use as well.

I live in a condo, which has an extremely small yard in the back, so being able to grow my own tomatoes off the ground is a blessing for me.

Not only does this item excite me with what it does, I love the fact that these can be found for less than $5. With the price of the Topsy Turvy and the amount it can save me over the course of a year, it may be no surprise that I like it, despite its many shortcomings.

Specifications

Weight: 1.4 pounds (0.6 kg)
Weight (with soil, water and plant): up to 30 – 40 lbs (13 – 18 kg)
Diameter: 9.5 inches (24.1 cm)
Length: 19 inches (48.2 cm)
Material: Plastic

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