Monday, May 11, 2009

Vegetable Garden - Topsy Turvy & Tomato in a Bag Do-Over

Well, remember my Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter Experiment?

And this, Tomato in a Bag Experiment?

Well... kinda sad...

...and REALLY REALLY sad.

Truth is, that upside down tomato was even worse than that picture when I finally pulled it down and dumped it. It was literally, well... slimy. And very dead. Same thing with one of the tomatoes in the bag.

BUT...

in all fairness I have to be honest.

While they may have looked okay when I planted them, none of these tomato plants were even close to bein' healthy when I started off with 'em now were they? Remember, they were "leftovers" from the square foot gardening and had sat in those plastic cell packs for weeks before I decided to try these two alternative methods of planting tomatoes.

Was this really fair??

Well, bein' the responsible blogger than I am, I decided I needed an official Do-Over. So I ran my bootie down to Wally World and found me a Patio Tomato and a Grape Tomato to replace two of those experimental tomatoes. NOW, this will be a more fair experiment.

So, this past Friday, I put the Patio Tomato in the Topsy Turvy and the Grape Tomato in one side of the manure bag. The other original plant in the manure bag is lookin' well ... okay, so I let it stay. It'll be good to see the difference in what happens between the healthy new tomato and the not-so-healthy previous tomato anyway. Right?

I also said I would share my mistakes and errors in all their ugliness with y'all {and by the way, I have a few more of those mistakes with the square foot gardens I'll be sharin' with y'all later}, so I'm pretty sure that I did at least four things wrong when I planted in the Topsy Turvy tomato planter.

First, I started off with already stressed, undernourished, neglected tomato plants. Not smart.

Second, I put in vegetable fertilizer granules which was probably a bit too harsh on an already stressed tomato. So this time, I just mixed up some Miracle-Gro liquid instead. Remember, it's okay to use Miracle-Gro at first when you are trying to build a strong plant, but once blooms start to show up, switch over to a vegetable fertilizer that has a more even balance of nutrients, as opposed to the Miracle-Gro, which is very high in nitrogen. Otherwise, you'll end up with a large, bushy and very green tomato plant that has very few tomatoes!

Third, I'm pretty sure that I totally over-watered that first tomato {actually it was 3 plants} and well, pretty much drown the poor thing! I kinda knew that right away really. So this time, instead of a full gallon of water, I watered it with about 1/2 gallon of the Miracle-Gro mixture and I'll check it in a day or so to see if it needs more water. I also gave it some Jungle Growth soil that Hubs had picked up for me from Lowe's the other day. I wanted the same mixture I had used before in the square foot gardens, but Hubs grabbed the wrong stuff. This one is called Jungle Growth Water Wise, which seems to contain extra water retaining ingredients - vermiculite, perlite and water absorbing crystals the bag says, so we'll see how the new plant does with this potting soil mixture in the Topsy bag.

And last, the original spot under the eaves did not give the plant nearly enough sunlight, and the hook it's on now on the edge, still may not be enough. I'll have to keep an eye on that! Remember tomatoes need about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.

As far as the tomatoes in a bag, well neither one of those plants was very healthy at all and one just completely died while the other survived, even the survivor didn't do well at first. I thought for sure that they were both gonna die on me, but only one did and the other one seems to have pulled through (on the left), though as you see, it's still leggy and not all that great looking. So,I left that one and just replaced the one that died with the grape tomatoes. I think the main reason for the failure there, was starting off with sickly tomato plants.

So here's the new Patio Tomato Plant in the Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter that I planted on Friday.

And here's the new Grape Tomato in a Bag.

Do-Over officially started on Friday. Wish me luck! And, of course, I'll keep y'all posted on the outcome, good, bad and ugly.

Update: See the latest here.

12 comments:

  1. I have 4 of these. Last year tomatoes; did not do well. This year I will be doing Strawberries. and I think I'll shop around for some herbs that I think will do well.

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  2. i have to say i bought my topsy turvy, tried to get my seedling plants in that are ready to be planted...so unimpressed, i could not get the lids over the hanger appropriately...getting the plants in with that foam piece broke the stems of my plant and i was careful...this may work with really thick stalked established plants but not my organic seed grown ones....i give this thing a d-....and they did mention in the directions the possibility of root rot...i am sticking with putting them in the ground or a big container the old fashioned way

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  3. Well, this is my second attempt and I know my mistakes from the first round, so we'll see how it goes! There are a bunch of folks who've had great success with this or homemade versions of upside down tomatoes, so I'm bound and determined to give it an honest try before I rate it! I found the sponge a bit awkward also even with my store bought seedling, but I was also trying to do this by myself. Another pair of hands would probably have helped a bit. Anyway, we'll see how round 2 goes!

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  4. Popped in from SITS to say hi! What a cool project!

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  5. The good...The bad...and the slimy...UGH!!!

    Maybe these new healthy plants will do well! Hope so! I am already learning from what you are sharing, about not overwatering, that's good to know...

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  6. Hi Mary, saw a link to your post via twitter this morning. I took a peek at your earlier trial of the tomatoes in a bag and the seedlings didn't look all that bad. I'm curious to see how it comes out this time because it would seem like the composted cow manure would create a soil that would retain too much water. Also, I don't understand the need to add Miracle Gro when you already have plenty of nutrients in the manure to get your plants off to a healthy start.

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  7. Hi Kat! I'm anxious to see how it turns out this time too, now that I have given the trial a good chance with healthy plants.

    Well, I basically followed the Black Kow instructions to be honest, which recommended the Epsom and the fertilizer in addition to the composted manure. The manure is only a 0.5-0.5-0.5 ration of nutrients, so I assume that's why.

    Actually the plants didn't 'look' that bad, but they had been abused - sitting in a cut up plastic cell pack that had been half emptied, so the soil dried out and got watered and dried out several times. They were stressed, and pretty neglected, extremely leggy, and trust me, just not very healthy plants by the time I decided to try and do something with them! At least this way I will feel like I'll have a more honest gauge on whether this can be done successfully!

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  8. I love following your gardening posts also and I'm learning alot. Got my sq. foot raised bed garden planted and dong well so far but we have extremely hot North Texas summers so don't know how well it will fair. Enjoy your site. Judy

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  9. Hi Judy! Thanks so much for your sweet comment! As I've said I'm just an amateur home gardener sharing my experiences. I figure I might as well share my failures as much as any successes and maybe it'll help someone.

    I'm like you on the garden - hoping that the raised beds hold up to the heat and humidity down here along the coast. It's been so hot here and no rain to speak of in over a month and it's only May!!

    One of the other failures I have to post about is my response to what I thought was my peppers under heat stress so I kept watering them. Couple times I watered them several times a day! Discovered the shriveling and limpness was most likely from the aphid attack and not thirst! So, as a result of that I had a lot of leaf drop from too much watering!

    Then the other thing was I accidentally used Dawn the 2nd time instead of the cheap lemon scented stuff I used the 1st time when I made the soap spray for the aphids and it burned and bleached the leaves on my eggplant and all my pepper plants!! YIKES!!

    And wait till y'all see what I did to my beans....

    What fun I'm having LOL!! I'll get that post up soon hopefully. Hey, ya gotta laugh at yourself, right?

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  10. I was wondering about those upside down tomato thing a bobs. Thanks for the info!

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  11. How funny, can't wait to see how they turn out. We plant the old fashion way and have tomatoes coming out the wahzoo!

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  12. So far so good! Both plants are hanging in there and doing well!

    Don't have tomatoes just yet, but I'm hoping my "regular" planted ones in the raised beds produce well this year. Last year I had about 8 plants in a regular row bed and they were doing fantastic and then bam, blight took hold and destroyed them. It was ugly. Hoping that the raised bed helps a bit this year.

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