Our heat pump just happens to be located in the best place on our property for the food garden. It takes up some prime real estate against the house with the best southern exposure that we have. It is going the stay there but the space above it has just been hanging out there…. wasted. That bothered me.
I occasionally attend a ‘support group’ that discusses how to successfully grow food in this area, and how to overcome the problems that come with gardening in the shadow of the a mountain in the pacific northwest. No… really there is such a group! We toured some houses. One really impressed me. This home is in neighborhood of tract homes. It looks like many of the other homes in the area, pleasantly landscaped from the street. The back yard was a tastefully designed as a food garden. Easy maintenance gravel paths with fruit trees, berry bushes , raised beds with cloches and lots of pots with root vegetable and lettuces. It was not only beautiful but prolific. She was successfully growing tomatoes and peppers in topsy turvys. Tomatoes are peppers are hard to grow in this area because of our short season and wet and cold springs and falls. She was having great success. My goal has been to have a food garden that is beautiful and prolific all year.
I admit that I felt that topsy turvys were a little too ‘as seen on TV’ for our garden. Then…. I saw 3 of them at a discount store for $ 3.00 each. Later I found a couple more new in their packages for $1.00 each at a garage sale. Last year we hung tomatoes in the topsy turvys. I learned several things from our moderate success last year.
1) don’t overfill with soil, leave about an inch at the top
2) make sure that you have very good solid hooks and chains, these can be very heavy
3) they are difficult to water (when they are over your head) so we put in irrigation
We attached a 3 way diverter to the faucet and bought a simple irrigation set from the local hardware store and set up a system to turn on the water and water them all at once. Easy peasy.!
So the advantages of topsy – turvys?
– Hang em high and the elk, deer and rabbits can’t get to them
– use irrigation for easy efficient watering
– the sun warms the roots better than it warms the soil around here
– they can be a very efficient use of space
This project probably cost us around $50.00
for 5 sturdy chains & hooks, 5 topsy turvys, soil, 5 tomatoes, irrigation system.
More later about how well they work. I will compare them to the results compared to the fancy new mini – greenhouse my husband built over part of one of the raised beds.