DIY Home + Garden Upside Down Tomatoes. CC photo by Flickr user kkimpel

Published on June 10th, 2009 | by Becky Striepe

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DIY Gardening: Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter

How to Make an Upside Down Tomato Planter

If you’ve ever flipped on the TV during a bout of insomnia, I’m sure you’ve seen the late-night ads for the Topsy Turvy tomato planter. For folks trying to garden with limited space, this is a great option! One gardenista I know even says that growing tomatoes and other viney plants upside down makes them grow larger and helps keep garden pests away! You’re not limited to tomatoes with this project, either. Squash, zucchini, green pepper, and strawberries are just a few other plants that you can grow with this method.

Sure, you could make two easy payments of $19.95 and order the pre-made version, but that’s hardly in the green crafty spirit! It’s easy and cheap to make your very own, and you can keep some trash out of the bin while you’re at it. Check out this awesome video on how to turn a used plastic cat litter container into your very own upside down planter:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/qldyP4Lh3eU&hl=en&fs=1&]
Green it Up
There were a few things in this video that I wasn’t a big fan of. First off, there’s no need to buy a new paper coffee filter, when a small piece of newspaper or even one of those junk mail flyers on newsprint will do! I also noticed that he dumped the bleach water right onto the ground, which doesn’t seem like the best thing to do. Pour that bleachy water down the drain instead!

He also recommends using Miracle Gro, which is hardly a green choice. Conventional fertilizers are full of synthetic, often petroleum-based ingredients. Why not skip the pricey potting soil, and nourish your tomato plant with some compost from your worm bin?

Have any of you tried growing upside down plants? How did it go? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Image Credit: Remixed Creative Commons photo by kkimpel



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://sew-and-so.blogspot.com Becky

    This one made me laugh– I work part-time at a garden center, and we did have a couple of these to sell earlier in the season. I had a customer call in recently after we sold out to ask if we had any more, so it’s too bad I didn’t know to tell him to try that!

  • http://www.marlajdesigns.etsy.com Marla

    Fabulous idea! I knew there had to be a cheaper way to do it!

  • http://sewing-chick.blogspot.com Jodie R.

    OMG, I just made one of these yesterday and was about to blog about it today or tomorrow :) I haven’t watched the video yet because there’s some plugin missing on my computer, but I’m guessing the coffee filter was in place of burlap. I used some tulle fabric instead that came from a bridesmaid dress. I hadn’t thought of coffee filters… we have a whole pot of used coffee filters. They’re good for composting :)

  • flasher702

    Where do you think the bleach goes when you dump it down the drain? For a small amount of low-concentration bleach water the ground is just fine. Possibly even better than the drain as it gets a chance to be filtered by the soil before entering any watersheds.

    Using vinegar instead would be a little more “green”.

  • flasher702

    And he never says to use fertilizer at all… he says to use potting soil and uses MiracleGro *brand* potting soil (not fertilizer). Compost is not a replacement for potting soil so I hope you change that so as not to confuse people.

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    Thanks, guys!
    Thanks for the great comments, guys!

    Becky – I’m glad I made you laugh! That’s always nice to hear.

    Jodie – Scrap fabric is a great idea! I’d love to see pictures of your planter when you post about it! Definitely let me know.

    Flasher – I guess I was under the impression that water that goes down the drain heads to a treatment plant. Pouring bleachy water into the ground just seems a bit worrisome to me.

    As far as compost, I’ve been using compost in place of potting soil in my container gardens for a couple of years now to good effect. If you’re more comfortable picking up organic potting soil, though, go for it! That will work, too. :)

  • http://nancysoffice.wordpress.com Nancy

    I am tweeting this, great post and on a cheap.

  • http://condo-blues.blogspot.com Condo Blues

    I grew upsidedown tomatoes last year. It worked well once I figured out how much water to it and how often. Daily with an empty wine bottle full of water works great!

  • http://sewing-chick.blogspot.com/2009/06/gardening-with-aliens-among-us.html Jodie R.

    Hey Becky! I blogged about my tomatoes and linked back to your site (with a little tongue-in-cheek humor… hope you don’t mind). Enjoy!

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    Great post, Jodie! I’ll try not to steal too many of your thoughts in the future. Mind reading is a great power but also a great responsibility. :P

  • http://www.this-greelife.com April

    Great post I put a link to it on my blog. Love the idea & think I will try it myself!

  • http://www.grandmasknittingplace.blogspot.com Yvette

    Condo Blues – I like that idea – using empty wine bottles ! I think I can manage to furnish some of those….LOL

  • http://organictasteandorganiclife.blogspot.com/ OrganicTaste

    This is great. We knew there was a way to make our own, just were not sure how. Thanks, this is very helpful. I will be posting this tip on my blog soon. By the was we have a topsy turvy. Interested but not willing to pay the price we saw two on display at Home Depot. We were able to buy them at a great discount. We kept one for us and one for our neighbor. Our has two tomatoes. Our neighbors has much more and are already turning red. Maybe we should water ours more.

  • http://thequeenbeesbuzz.blogspot.com Regina

    I wanted something lighter weight than a plastic bucket, and something recycled, so scoured my workplace office for discarded tyvek mailing pouches. With a bit of sewing and a few well placed cuts, I soon had hanging pouches that have held up to heavy rains, blowing winds, and tomato laden plants. I harvested my first fruits just 2 days ago, but it has been a cool wet summer here. Tutorial and photo updates of the current crop are on my blog.

  • meral küçük

    fikir harika çok beğendim ilkbaharda deneyeceğim

  • Kerry

    Another good article here on making an upside down tomato planter – http://www.practicalhomeandgarden.com/how-to-make-your-own-upside-down-tomato-planter

    A general article on growing tomatoes upside down – http://www.practicalhomeandgarden.com/the-upside-down-tomato-garden

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  • Guest

    Please update your post. He specifically says that he doesn’t recommend Miracle Gro (it’s just what he had around).

    Coffee filters are way better than newspaper. They’re made to hold out longer against water. So, skip the newspaper and go for the filter. It’ll hang around longer.
    (Plus, that coffee filter is tinted brown – likely from being used for its primary purpose of being a coffee filter. It’s getting a second chance at life in the garden instead going to the trash.)

  • http://www.kleendrybh.com Upholstery Cleaning Kendall

    Such a outstanding blog. I will come back again for more.

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