Garden Detective

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

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Tomato contestants: John and Joyce Chanda

John Chanda grows tomatoes in a 4-foot-by-4-foot patch

John Chanda grows tomatoes in a 4-foot-by-4-foot patch behind his Holbrook apartment. (Credit: Handout)

Reader Joyce Chanda has a heartwarming story to tell: After she and her husband John tragically lost their Massapequa home during superstorm Sandy, the couple relocated to an apartment in Holbrook.

John and their son, Justin, have had "an obsession with gardening, especially, tomatoes," Joyce said, but after leaving their garden behind, "we thought this enjoyment was over," she added.

But where there's a will, there's a way: The couple forged a small 4-foot-by-4-foot tomato garden behind their new apartment.

Justin, who now lives in a fourth-floor apartment in Brooklyn, also refused to leave his love of gardening behind. He now grows tomatoes on the roof.

The take-away? "You can fulfill your passion and attain joy with a little hard work and imagination," Joyce said.

We look forward to meeting the Chandas at this year's Great Long Island Tomato Challenge.

Are you in?

Mark your calendars: This year’s contest will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Newsday headquarters (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville). Give your plants plenty of tender loving care all summer long, then bring your biggest, heaviest ripe fruit to the event.

I'll be on hand to weigh your tomatoes personally and crown the 2013 Tomato King or Queen. In the meantime, send a photo of yourself with your tomato plants, along with details about your growing strategy, to jessica.damiano@newsday.com, and you might be featured next.

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