Garden Detective

Jessica Damiano's award-winning garden blog gets to the root of things.

Lindenhurst man wins Newsday Tomato Challenge

Gary Schaffer of Lindenhurst is congratulated by Newsday

(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

They came with baskets and buckets, dishtowels and boxes. They carried tomatoes big and small, ugly and misshapen, red and green. But I don't think any of them was prepared for what they were about to witness.

One by one, they approached the scale, hope in their eyes. On it, they placed homegrown tomatoes -- the bounty from a cool summer's worth of blood, sweat, tears and money. Weights were...

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Daylily sale next week at Farmingdale State College

Who doesn't like daylilies? And, more important, who doesn't like cheap daylilies? They're tough as nails, tolerate full sun to light shade and come in all sorts of colors and sizes. And you can get your hands on some Saturday, Aug. 23, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (arrive early, as plants sell out) at the Long Island Daylily Society's annual sale and seminar at Farmingdale State College (2350 Broadhollow...

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Farm-fresh veggies and flowers at Farmingdale State College

Farm-fresh organic vegetables are available at Farmingdale State

(Credit: Handout)

If you're looking for organic farm-fresh vegetables and flowers for dinner tonight, why not stop by Farmingdale State College on Route 110? Students there hold a sale every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sustainable Garden on the campus, and proceeds are used to run the garden. 

The selection varies from week to week, and includes everything from Romaine lettuce, jalapenos, kale, string...

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Late blight advice for home gardeners

Numerous initial symptoms of late blight are visible

(Credit: University of Maine Cooperative Extension)

Late blight has been identified on Long Island for the fifth straight year, and once again, we all need to be vigilant in looking for symptoms and reporting them as soon as possible.

Late blight, the disease responsible for the great Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s, reared its ugly head on Long Island in 2009, and has been back every year since. The disease is caused by a pathogen that can...

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Enter the 2014 Garden Poetry contest

What inspires you? Write an ode to your

(Credit: Handout)

It's time for the 6th annual Garden Poetry Contest. We survived the brutal winter of 2013-14, so this year's topic is, "We've earned it!"

Send in your original poem of 10 lines or less that conveys your heartfelt feelings about the upcoming season: Express your preference for shoveling mulch instead of snow, wax poetic about how keeping your mind on homegrown produce got you through February,...

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Enter the 2014 Great Long Island Tomato Challenge

The Tomato King: William Bouziotis of Northport holds

(Credit: Ed Betz)

The 8th annual Great Long Island Tomato Challenge will be Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at Newsday headquarters (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville).

Give your plants plenty of tender loving care all summer long, then bring your biggest, heaviest fruit to the event. I'll weigh your tomatoes personally and crown the 2014 Tomato King or Queen.

The rules (revised for this year):

-Tomatoes must be homegrown,...

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Plant festivals, shows and sales come to LI

Orchids for sale at the 2013 Long Island

(Credit: Maria Mucaria Stankowski)

After a long and dreary winter, spring is finally here -- and Long Island's gardening scene is celebrating like gangbusters!

It's time for the 31st annual Dutch Festival at Hofstra University, where you'll find, you guessed it, tulips, tulips and more tulips. The festival will be held outdoors on the south campus from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and will also offer Dutch food and drink, jazz...

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Time to plant tomatoes?!

Cold injury visible on tomato plant foliage at

(Credit: Handout)

Back in March, I advised readers to delay planting peas and other early-season vegetables, despite what ordinarily would be an acceptable planting time, as the unusually cold and snowy winter we've had has left the ground colder and soggier than usual. Everything still seems to be behind schedule, as -- so far -- spring hasn't exactly been springlike.

I wasn't surprised to learn this week...

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Earth Hour 2014: Who's in?

Edinburgh Castle before and during lights-out, as buildings

(Credit: © WWF / Maverick Photo Agency)

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, homes, businesses and entire cities around the globe will go dark for one hour to raise awareness of the planet during Earth Hour 2014.

The campaign, which began as a local event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, when 2 million people switched off their lights to show support for environmentally sustainable action, has since grown into a global event, with hundreds...

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Brutal allergy season ahead?

Allergy sufferers will have fewer pollen concerns by

(Credit: AP)

About a week ago, I wrote about how all the snow we've had this winter will affect your garden come spring. It now appears it may have an effect on your health, as well.

Counter to what logic might dictate (or at least my logic), it seems we're all in for a long and potentially brutal allergy season. No, the season will not be delayed; it's actually two weeks ahead of schedule.

We already...

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