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Topsy Turvy tomatoes
TV product works great in garden
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Just four weeks after planting, the Lees have several tomatoes in their custom containers well on their way to the dinner table . - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
     It's been seen on TV and in local garden centers - the Topsy Turvy planter that grows tomatoes upside down. But local residents Steve and Lynda Lee put a new twist on the Topsy Turvy, and have a compact garden in their back yard where squash, peppers and tomatoes are growing by leaps and bounds - upside down, of course.
      Impressed by the Topsy Turvy, Lynda ordered the first two online, but later added six more purchased at retail outlets. But when it came time to hang the planters, Steve came up with an idea.
      He fashioned a rack from electrical conduit and set it up inside a small raised garden plot in his landscaped back yard near Southern Links Golf Course. Then, he spliced into a drip irrigation system, running the tubes up the rack into the tops of the Topsy Turvy planters. The results - a fully loaded tomato plant, heavy with both blooms and fruit, in less than three weeks.
      A squash plant on the ground, planted at the same time as one in the Topsy Turvy, pales in comparison to the one hanging high. And the pepper plants already have peppers hanging. "We don't ever get peppers this early," Lynda said.
      The plants grow upward around the bottom of the planters, seeking sunlight. The plants seem to be stronger and healthier than any they have grown in the ground, Steve said.
      His theory is the nutrients, fed by the drip irrigation system, flow directly into the plant. The fertilized potting soil he used in the Topsy Turvy planters doesn't hurt, he said.
      "Most of these were planted two and a half weeks ago and we've already got them this big," he said.
      The Topsy Turvy system helps protect plants from insects and weeds, he said.
      "You don't have to worry about worms getting into the tomato stems because they are up off the ground," Lynda said.
      Another deterrent to bugs is garlic spray, Steve said. He orders it and sprays the yard, which helps discourage all types of insects, including gnats and mosquitoes.
      The Topsy Turvy planters, especially if you can hang them from a compact system like Steve has done, is ideal for those with limited gardening space, Lynda said.
      Steve grew up on a farm, and was active in agriculture and FFA in high school. Gardening is a hobby. "Everywhere we've lived we've had a little garden in our yard," Lynda said.
      The Topsy Turvy hanger is situated amid a back yard landscaped with red bark, flowers and shrubs, and is very easy to care for, he said.
      Now the couple are looking forward to home-grown fresh squash, tomatoes and a variety of peppers that appear they will be ripe and ready weeks before those planted in the ground.

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