Garden Detective

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

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Jessica Damiano

Jessica Damiano is a journalist with more than 20 years experience in radio, television, print and online media.

She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is senior editor of Newsday's ExploreLI.com website.

Jessica, who has trained as a Master Gardener, enjoys toiling in her garden -- an ongoing work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her column, Garden Detective, which appears every Sunday in Newsday.

The Garden Detective blog was awarded a 2008 Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Online Features Reporting Award.

Jessica lives in Nassau County with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Mikey, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds.

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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First day of spring and vernal equinox today

Toward the end of March, it's time to

(Credit: AP / Alvaro Barrientos)

Today is the first day of spring, and you know what that means? It's also the vernal equinox.

When I was a kid and I wanted to know the meaning of a word, my mother typically would tell me to “look it up.” Lazy, I often pressed her to “just tell me.” Invariably, I would regret not reaching for the dictionary because she would launch into a 10-minute lecture about the Latin root of the word...

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Daylight Saving Time returns Sunday!

Custodian Ray Keen inspects a clock face before

(Credit: AP / Charlie Riedel)

Standard time comes to an end at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 9, 2014, and although we'll technically be losing an hour of sleep as we "spring ahead," we'll be gaining an hour of sunlight, which is more than fine with me.

It's been cold and unforgiving all winter, and there's nothing like the blaring sun to make me feel alive again. Returning home from work in the dark has had me wanting to put on...

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How to remove English ivy

English ivy vines overtake part of a tree.

(Credit: Handout)

The holidays are here, so pick a nice day to deck your halls with English ivy.

First, don a pair of rubber gloves--a vine you grab may be poison ivy. Using pruners, cut away some nice vines from the base of a tree that's overladen with English ivy and gently pull them off the tree, being careful not to injure the bark. And while you're at it, cut away all the ivy at the base. This time, don't...

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Frost vs. Freeze: What's the difference to plants?

Plants should be protected against damaging frosts and

(Credit: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service)

It's snowing outside, and my thermostat tells me it's 34 degrees, but this could only be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak: Long Island could be headed into a deep freeze this week, beginning with potentially plant-killing temperatures tonight into tomorrow morning. If you haven't already, bring in your tropicals, tender perennials, herbs and vacationing houseplants -- immediately.

What...

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Out with daylight saving time, in with standard time

Can switching back to Standard Time be bad

(Credit: Handout)

Daylight saving time 2013 will end Sunday at 2 a.m., so it'll be best to set your clocks back an hour before retiring for the night on Saturday. Soon, many of us can expect to wake up in the dark, and come home from work in the dark, too, as there's more than the clock at play: The time shift will be compounded by shorter day lengths. That might seem like a double whammy, but it is standard time,...

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Electronics giant Sharp entering the strawberry business

Electronics company Sharp is trying its hand at

(Credit: Randee Daddona)

Although I appreciate the ideology, I'm not a strict locavore. I enjoy mangoes in New York, apples in summer and tomatoes during winter. O.K., I don't actually enjoy tomatoes during winter. I tolerate them. But you get the point. For the most part, I generally take my food from wherever it comes. Still, news this morning that electronics giant Sharp -- the TV and stereo manufacturer -- was getting...

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Northport grower wins Great Long Island Tomato Challenge

William Bouziotis holds up his 3 lb., 5

(Credit: Ed Betz)

They came with baskets and boxes, cut-up cartons and dish towels, bowls and food storage containers. And each of those concealed one thing: a homegrown tomato that held the promise of victory.

About 110 tomato growers and their families came from all over Long Island on Aug. 23 to line up at my scale and compete for the title of Tomato King or Queen. The heaviest entry and first-place winner...

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