Garden Detective

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

The Great Bee Count is on!

A bee feeds on a flowering Anigozanthus plant,

(Credit: Getty Images)

Every gardener knows that without pollinators, there would be no gardens. And no one pollinates quite like a bee. If you enjoy watching them scurry from flower to flower as much as I do, you might consider joining this year's Great Bee Count, which has been organized by San Francisco State University and will feed the Great Sunflower Project, the largest  database of bee populations in North...

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Tomato contestant: Patrick Dean

Return challenger Patrick Dean of West Islip has

(Credit: Handout)

Return challenger Patrick Dean of West Islip isn’t taking any chances: If these cages won’t adequately protect his Great White tomatoes, his guard dachshund will! Dean says he got a “late start due to weather this year, but it’s O.K., as they hit 5 feet tall." Last month, he reported spotting 60 tomatoes on the plants!

Save the date

Are you in? This year’s contest will be held at...

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Tomato contestant: Lionel Mailloux of Manhasset

Reader Lionel Mailloux is growing towering, 8-foot-tall tomato

(Credit: Handout)

Lionel Mailloux of Manhasset credits “a combination of the weather and luck" for his towering 8-foot-tall tomato plants. The cherry and Big Beef varieties are producing fruit, he says, and "the plants are growing uncontrollably."

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...

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Late blight alert! Tomatoes, potatoes at risk

Late blight-affected leaves found on an infected tomato

(Credit: Meg McGrath)

To those who thought the threat of late blight this year was over and we tomato and potato growers were out of the woods, so to speak, unfortunately that isn't the case.

Word came down from the Cornell Cooperative Extension this morning that symptoms of the devastating pathogen were discovered yesterday on tomato plants in Riverhead. Because the source of infection is spores that are easily...

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Tomato contestant: Burt Tarcher

Reader Burt Tarcher's tomato garden. (2013)

(Credit: Handout)

Burt Tarcher of Great Neck has sent an update from his “Tarcher Victory Garden”:

“These babies were germinated from seeds and are San Marzano tomatoes. And yes I'm very proud! These amazing, meaty tomatoes are wonderful for sauce.” Tarcher gives his plants water, sunlight, organic feedings, coffee grinds and eggs shells. “They are overgrowing their 6-foot bamboo stakes and are still flowering...

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Treating your lawn? Double check the label

For better or worse, lawns have become the status symbol of suburbia, with some homeowners going to great lengths to nurture and grow flawless grass. My lawn is small and shrinking more every year as the beds and borders grow and expand over it like Chinatown over Little Italy. And my lawn isn't so much rye, bluegrass or fescue as it is chickweed, crabgrass and dandelion. As long as it looks...

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Tomato contestant: Bob Clark of Setauket

Bob Clark of Setauket grows corn, eggplant, cucumbers,

(Credit: Handout)

Bob Clark of Setauket has tried a different tomato-growing approach this year -- and it appears to be working for him. He writes, “I never realized how much less work, and more fun, you can have with container vegetable gardening. This year I have tried growing everything I could in containers — corn, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and various herbs. We have had...

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Featured Tomato Challenge contestant: Evan Gottesman, 8

Evan Gottesman, 8, of Farmingville, and his square-foot

(Credit: Handout, 2013)

Evan Gottesman, 8, of Farmingville, and his grandpa, Sal Ferrante of West Islip, started tomato seeds -- and peppers, beans, cucumbers and beets -- indoors, then Evan transplanted the seedlings to his square-foot outdoor vegetable garden. We’re looking forward to meeting Evan and his grandpa later this summer at the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge.

Are you in?

Mark your calendars:...

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Featured tomato contestant: Tony from Mineola

Tony from Mineola has entered the 2013 Great

(Credit: Handout)

Tony from Mineola is growing 3 varieties of tomatoes this year. His strategy? Fertilizing every 3-4 weeks -- "and luck!“

Are you in?

This year’s contest will be held at 7 p.m. on 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 weigh...

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