Home-Grown Tomatoes - Straight From Your Patio

After last year's tomato blight destroyed many a home gardener's tomato crop, area gardeners are wondering what they should do about growing tomatoes this year. The answer might be found in using containers to grow your tomatoes.

Edible gardening has become a cultural phenomenon. The need to save money at the grocery store and the desire to have better-tasting fruits and vegetables has sparked an increase in home gardening. According to the Garden Writers Association, 41 million U.S. households have a vegetable garden and 37 percent plan to expand the size of their edible garden this year.

"Growing tomatoes is one of the most popular forms of edible gardening," says Bayer Advanced(tm) Garden Expert Lance Walheim, author of "Vegetable Gardening." "They can be grown from seeds or plants and they make an excellent addition to a salad."

If container gardening is a new concept for you, Bayer Advance offers the following helpful information about turning your deck or patio into your own food growing area.

• Choose your tomato: The Patio Hybrid tomato was developed just for containers, but you can also grow varieties such as Celebrity, Early Girl, Sweet Tangerine, or Northern Exposure.

• Containers: The bigger the better, but containers that are at least five gallons are the best size for promoting growth. Make sure the container has a hole in the bottom for drainage.

• Soils and fertilization: Use a high-quality potting soil and fertilize twice a month.

• When to water: The rule of thumb is to water the base of the plant when the top two inches of soil have dried. Container-grown tomatoes can require daily watering as the plant gets bigger.

• Destructive insects and diseases: Whiteflies and tomato hornworms like to eat tomatoes. Diseases such as blight and powdery mildew can harm your plants as well. The brand-new Bayer Advanced Natria Insect, Disease and Mite Control RTU contains sulphur and pyrethrins to control insects and diseases that affect tomatoes in one ready-to-spray application.

Be sure to read and follow all label directions. Visit www.BayerAdvanced.com for more gardening information and to view how-to videos.

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