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One of the great things about being a SPIN (Small Plot IN-tensive) Farmer is many of us like to share short cuts and new time saving products that we find useful. For example, one of our tools in the “tool kit” is growing vegetables in all kinds and sizes of containers. One of best ideas is using wading pools for toddlers. Drill holes in the bottom and sides for drainage and aeration fill it with a good quality potting soil and you’re good to go! However, there are some containers and gimmicks that are not worth the money or effort. I’m a firm believer of learning from other people’s experiences and this product is one of them. I have several good friends who purchased “The Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter” (“As Seen on TV!”) and were nice enough to share with me their experiences. Based on my interviews, this product gets my lowest rating which is a sad face. Their warning is buyers beware! This product does not live up to the expectations as advertised. My first interview was with my neighbor’s Bob and Sue. Bob and Sue purchased their planter at a local discount store and put everything together themselves. The kit included the bag, basic instructions on how to fill and hang the bag and a packet of fertilizer. Soil and tomato plant were not included. My friend Gail purchased her planter from a local farm and garden supply store in her town. It was already assembled and planted with a tomato plant. All she had to do was buy it and hang it when she got home. Here is what they said about this product: Brenda: During the summer we know you love fresh tomatoes and for years you grew tomatoes the normal way, in a pot, planter or in the ground with success. So why did you buy this product? Bob and Sue: It was advertised that it was easy to use and could be put it anywhere in the yard. Our yard has lots of shade and we wanted to be able to move the planter around the yard to the sunniest spaces throughout the day. Gail: I work a lot of hours and I don’t have time to garden anymore. I wanted something simple and care free. When I saw it all put together ready to hang in my yard, I couldn’t resist. Brenda: How was it to assemble and install? Bob and Sue: It wasn’t easy. Once I filled the bag with soil it was really heavy. We looked for weight requirements and there was nothing listed in the instructions. I wasn’t sure if I was putting it together right or not. When I finally got it filled with potting soil and then planted the tomato plant, it was a big mess. Soil kept leaking out all over the place it was incredibly heavy. Gail: I didn’t have any problems hanging it up. I just hooked it on the railing on my front door stoop. Brenda: During the growing season, how easy was it to care for the plant? Bob and Sue: It didn’t go well at all. The reason we purchased the planter was so we could move it around our yard with little effort so it can always have sun. The planter ended up getting so heavy we had to buy a heavy-duty shepherd’s hook hanger and anchor it to the ground with heavy-duty wire. Moving it around wasn’t an option anymore. The other problem we noticed was that the plant didn’t grow straight down as they advertised. The plant wanted the sun and wasn’t getting it hanging upside down. Instead it curved up and grew up the bag. When the weather got really hot the soil in the bag dried out and my plant started to wilt. Some days I had to water it several times just to keep it alive. Then there was always the fear of the bag ripping or the hook breaking after watering because the bag was so heavy. Then there was the question of what to do with the fertilizer that came with the kit. There were no instructions on what to do with it. Over all, it was a lot of work to keep that plant alive and very frustrating. Gail: Honestly, I really didn’t pay that much attention to it. I had it hanging off my front stoop railing. I did notice a few times after watering that the weight of the soil and plant was putting a lot of stress on the bag, but I wasn’t too concerned about it. If it broke it broke. However, now that I think about it, watering was actually a problem. Watering from the top meant the water then flowed down and out the holes never reaching the bottom vines. Watering at the separate holes didn’t allow enough water for the plant. Brenda: How did the tomato plant grow? Did it give you the quantity that you expected? Bob and Sue: After all the work that went into putting it together and the amount of care it required the output of tomatoes was minimal. It certainly didn’t give us the bumper crop that they advertised in their commercials or on the box. Gail: For the first few weeks my plant was producing enough tomatoes to satisfy me. Then I ran out of tomatoes and the plant didn’t produce anything for almost 3 months. Then right before a hard freeze I noticed the plant flowered again and it looked like I was going to finally get more tomatoes. Unfortunately, the freeze came, and then snow and that ended everything. Brenda: Did this product meet your expectations and deliver what it promised? And would you recommend it to your friends and family? Bob and Sue: No and No. It was a waste of money and I’m concerned about how they advertise this product. I don’t think they are being truthful. My biggest concern is if an elderly person bought this product. How would they be able to manage assembling this thing and care for it. Gail: No – I didn’t get a consistent amount of tomatoes as they advertised. And if you think about it, what plant can grow upside down? Mine, defied gravity and turned up and grew up the bag and it was in full sun all day. I don’t recommend this product - this is a buyers beware product.