Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print

The ninth annual Great Long Island Tomato Challenge has begun. Give your plants plenty of tender loving care all summer long, then bring your biggest, heaviest fruit to the event, where it will be weighed and recorded by Newsday garden columnist Jessica Damiano.

There is no need to register; just come to Newsday headquarters (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville) with your biggest, heaviest tomato on Thursday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. Enter the Newsday property from Pinelawn Road and follow the red balloons.


The rules

Tomatoes must be homegrown, fresh and not previously frozen. Stems should be removed before weighing.

Entries will be judged in six categories:

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-- Heaviest

-- Smallest (measured, not weighed)

-- Ugliest

-- Three youth categories: 6 and younger; 7-12; 13-17.

-- Tomatoes do not need to be ripe.

As you await the big day, send a photo of yourself with your tomato plants, along with details about your growing techniques and the varieties you're growing, to, and you might be featured in an upcoming issue of Newsday. Then come back and follow the competition in Newsday every Sunday leading up to the big day.