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Date: 10 April 2017. Upside Down Tomato Plant How-To.


At anchor I always crave produce. I want to grow my own salads aboard Seaweed. Lentils are *easy to sprout and a part of my diet.  Tomatoes would be a lovely addition to my salad bowl. Upside down tomato planters such as the Topsy-Turvy sold on Amazon appealed to me. The price did not. Here's how I did something similar for a whole lot less money.

*See the Growing Lentil Sprouts article for details.


Supply List


Dollar Store items:

1. Hanging basket planter (I have also seen these in Dollar General discount stores)

2. Coffee filters (one required)

3. Coconut basket liner

4. A  bag of potting soil.

Walmart item:

1. One small tomato plant. I chose a cherry tomato variety figuring smaller tomatoes would a better size for my salads

You will also need the netting from a bag of fruit.


A big part of the push to grow my own tomatoes is because I want to be as self-sufficient as possible. If I can grow a salad without having to go into town that has definite appeal. Independence is important to my happiness quotient.

I simply prefer my own little world aboard Seaweed.
It is calm, peaceful and so restful. Truly I am blessed.

When growing up aboard our 40'er back in the late 50's and 1960's we did not have refrigeration. Fresh produce was a rare commodity. Salads were something I craved. I used to cut out pictures of tossed salads and steaks from magazines. Rabbit food was a treat way back when.

It still is today.


One option for many is to purchase a Topsy-Turvy planter for tomatoes. I will admit it is a pretty nifty item.

What appeals most to me is that I could potentially grow a lot of tomatoes in a small footprint. There is not a lot of room aboard a 23' boat. This could work for me.

Affiliate link

Topsy-Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter



Though a spiffy product, the Topsy Turvy runs $20 retail. I have seen knock-off's for half that.
I can do better than that. All told, for about $6 I have made my own. Here is how:

First head to a Dollar Tree store. The discount stores (Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.) have similar products though the cost may be higher. Buy a hanging basket planter and a coconut husk basket liner.

The polyester line that comes with hanging baskets deteriorates quickly in the sun. Plan on replacing it with approximately ten feet of 1/8" braided nylon.


Using a 1 1/2" paddle bit, drill a hole in the bottom.


I flipped my basket upside down and drilled. Without support the drill bit cracked the bottom. It made a mess. Instead, what I should have done was put the planter on a flat surface and drilled down. If I had drilled it on a board that cracking would not have happened.

The hole would be round and pretty if I had drilled correctly. As is, the planter is Good Enough. With the tomato plant in the basket no one will ever know. Shh!

Next I put a coffee filter up to the cracks and traced the pattern. I did the same with the coconut husk liner. With scissors I cut the filter and coconut so that my plant could be pulled through that jagged hole.

Side Note: Some online reviewers mentioned dirt falling out the bottom of their upside down planters. I did not want that to happen aboard Seaweed. Recommendations included using a coffee filter or a coconut liner. I opted for both.

Next slide your plant (pot first) into the net from a bag of fruit.

I should have removed the plastic from the pot before sliding it into the bag.

The net will protect the tomato plant while you pull it through the
coffee filter, coconut liner and then the bottom of your hanging basket.

Finally cut and pull away the netting you used to pull the plant through.

So far my upside down plant is doing okay. I had one flower on it when purchased. The day after I pulled it through my basket another flower appeared. Both fell off. No new ones have blossomed since then.

A few days after the transplant into my basket the tomato's leaves looked wilted. They seem to wilt and plump up with semi-regularity. I'm not an expert at this by any means. On the other hand, I've not killed it yet so who knows? One of these days I may eat the most expensive tomato on the planet. $6!!!

I am no expert and have made a lot of mistakes in my garden efforts.
The last one was filled with little icky bugs. They swarmed! Ugh.

To resolve that a gal at Walmart recommended Neem Oil.

I like that it kills bugs. Better living through chemistry and all that... Have I mentioned that I hate bugs?!? I really really do not like them at all. They give me the creeps.


Neem Oil Extract

Walmart sold a ready-to-use version of the Neem Oil Extract I purchased. The one I chose is a 70% concentrate. I have to mix it with water.

Neem Oil Extract must be diluted. That is okay except I am old as dirt and the writing on containers nowadays is much smaller than it was twenty or forty years ago.

My solution is to read carefully then mark my bottles with the instructions in permanent marker.



By making notes on the bottle I am prepared to make the next batch. It's a simple enough thing. I use my permanent Sharpie pen often to help me remember stuff.

Amazon sells Neem Oil Extract too. Click here to find it:

Neem Oil Extract

Affiliate Link


A problem I had before was bugs in my plants. I have been spraying diluted Neem onto the leaves and in the dirt. A couple days ago I saw a fruit fly. I am worried I will get another infestation. Does anyone have a different product that will kill everything but me?

I have tried the Joy dish detergent routine. That did not work. I used Raid flying insect killer. Lots of carcasses but more bugs. I think that was an aphrodisiac for the dang beasties. Last time the bugs got so bad I gave them all swimming lessons. I did not know those little white worms in my soil were fruit fly larvae. UGH.

It was awful. Truly awful.

Swimming lessons means I threw the plants and bugs
into the water. I am still shuddering from that fiasco.

Greenery makes me happy.

The tomatoes and the rest of my garden planters are in the cockpit. It is screened though not tightly. My screening is not fancy. The process is described in the
Screening Seaweed article.

Often the pilothouse doors are wide open. Also, I am backed up to
mangroves so there is a lot of wildlife about, including flying critters.

I am definitely not an expert at this stuff. Learning about how to best grow a salad fascinates me. I always admire
those with real skill. One such person is Jean of Lily Maria. She inspired me. Her tomatoes were magnificent.

Someday I hope my garden is as prolific as hers. Wish me luck!

I'd love to hear what you do to prevent bugs in your garden.
And, what are you growing this year?

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