If I offend anyone when I say this or if you own one I apologize.. those Topsy Turvy planters are terrible.
They are not terrible in concept, they are terrible aesthetically. They look cheap in my opinion and they don't seem to be very durable.
I found a set of pics off an old hard drive and thought I would post my more stylish and more durable approach to upside down tomato planters. I figure its something we can do in the garage while we are waiting for this crazy weather pattern to pull out of Winter and nose up towards Spring.
Lets make some tomato planters with some style shall we?Supply List:
- Galvanized Metal Bucket ( I got mine at my local Ace Hardware)
- Galvanized grid/wire mesh or screen (This needs to be somewhat rigid to help hold in the dirt)
- Screen ( Ask at the hardware store and see if they will give you some scraps or remnants left over from cutting out replacement screen for screen doors or windows. This needs to be finer gauge to help hold in the smaller particles of dirt.
-Couple handfuls of mulch
-Tomato Plant Tool List:
-Tin Snips or a jig saw with a metal blade
-Heavy duty scissors (not pictured)
-Safety goggles (Not pictured)
**Note I am a painter and those weird look pliers are actually canvas stretching pliers.
Ok lets do this :)
Here is what we are going to be building :
This is a schematic drawing of how it goes together.
--cut a hole in the box....errr I mean bucket.
I forgot to document the first few steps of cutting out the hole in the bottom of the bucket, so this first image shows the bucket in progress. On the bottom of the bucket there are circles from the manufacturing process. Pick one that is about 2 inches larger that the diameter of your fist and cut it out.
Couple things to remember :
1) Be careful.
2) Re-read number one a few times.
I took a nail and poked a hole through the bottom as a starter hole. Use your jig saw and slowly cut out a circle from the bottom of the bucket using the manufacturing "ripple" on the bottom as a guide.
Once you have the material removed, fold the edge of the hole over so that you don't have a raw, sharp edged hole. You are going to be sticking your hand through this hole a few times during construction, so make SURE the edges are smooth and free of burrs. It should look something like this. This is looking top down into the bucket.
Here is another image that shows the folded over edge a little bit better
--Sizing the mesh and screen
This part of the process is kind of an eyeball it and adjust as necessary approach. Basically you need to cut out a circle of the galvanized mesh to sit in the bottom of the bucket to cover the hole you just made. The galvanized mesh is to help support the finer grade screen which in turn keeps the dirt and your plant from falling out.Your plant falling out is a bad thing. Once you get the galvanized mesh circle cut, do the same thing with the fine mesh screen. See below from some images of this part of the process
As a point of reference and to see what we are going for, this is the top view looking down into the bucket.
This shows the fine mesh and the galvanized mesh "installed" and the plants installed.
Cutting the galvanized
Trimming the screen to size
Cutting a center hole in both screens.
We need to make a hole in both the fine mesh screen and the galvanized screen for the plants to pass through.
The best way to do this is to dry fit both the galvanized and the screen mesh in the bottom of the bucket and mark your holes with a Sharpie marker. Make these holes big enough for a plant stalk to pass through. Its not a bad idea to make them a little larger so the plant stalks can expand as the plant grows. Mine are a little larger than the diameter of a quarterWith the Galvanized
: Just snip out and remove enough of the grid with your snips till you have a "square" hole. The image is me marking the holes for the plants to pass through
With the fine mesh screen:
Fold the screen into a half circle and cut the holes out of the center..(Think cutting a snowflake out of paper when you were little)
The image below has a good view of the completed holes (see left side of image)
Dry fit the screens one more time to make sure everything fits all proper like.
STEP FOUR - Installing the plants
1) Remove the seedling plant
2) Trim the plant. I trim all the leaves and shoots from about the bottom 1/3 of the plant. This will help the top part of the plant grow and also give the stalk a cleaner pass through the hole in the bucket.
3) Threading the plant through the holes--
Here is where you need to thread the plant through the holes in the mesh and the screen. Go slow and easy during this step. Once you get it started gently slide the mesh down to the "collar" of the plant.
The images below show the progression.
4) Once you get to the point slide the plant and the screens through the bottom hole in the bucket
Again, go slow and easy during this step.
It should look like this :
When the bucket is in its hanging position, looking down into the bucket should look something like this:
STEP FIVE - Add dirt and mulch
At this point I hang the bucket on my deck and start adding my soil.
I use a mix of compost that I make, fill dirt, mushroom compost, cotton burr compost, blood meal and bone meal. I fill the bucket up to about 2/12 inches from the top. I fill the rest of the bucket with a few handfuls of mulch. Water well, hang and there you go :)
I like these planters because
1) They are green ...meaning they are reusable year after year. There is no fabric to rot
2) Style - They harken to days spent on a farm. They have a touch of antiquity and a nod to nostalgia.
They have substance compared to the cheap looking wind sock topsy turvy versions. Speaking of topsy turvy, these guys have been through a season of classic Midwest thunderstorms, hail storms and tornadoes and are still in fine shape.
3) Watering- You can't really over water them. All the excess water that the mulch and the plant don't absorb comes out the bottom. This is especially nice when your tomatoes get caught in a severe storm.
I have plans to make an upside down planter "orchard" by installing 4x4 posts in my yard and hanging these planters off them with Shepard hooks. You could potentially grow beans at the base of the posts too.
If you wanted to, you could probably plant something in the top of these planters as long as it wasn't a heavy feeder. I have not tried this yet.
Hope you enjoyed reading and think about making one for yourself. They are basically the same price as the after market upside down planters when its all said and done.
Now get out there and build a few ;)