Garden Detective

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

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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Tomato contestants: John and Joyce Chanda

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

(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,"...

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Tomato contestant: John G. Aicher of Southold

Reader John G. Aicher of Southold grew Burpee

(Credit: Handout)

These beauties were nurtured from seed by John G. Aicher of Southold. He sowed Burpee Big Boys indoors on March 19, then transplanted into pots outdoors. Here they are flowering his patio on May 26.

We're looking forward to seeing John at the 2013 Great Long island Tomato Challenge in August.

Are you in?

This year’s contest will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Newsday headquarters...

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Plants vs. Zombies 2 coming soon

Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time will

(Credit: PopCap Games)

OK, I admit it: I'm a zombie geek. I love zombie movies and folklore, and consider the question, "Vampires, zombies or werewolves?" to be a riveting party-conversation starter, as well as a testament to someone's character. As you know, I'm also somewhat of a plant geek.  So it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm super-excited that a sequel to the video game Plants vs Zombies -- "Plants...

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A trifecta of garden-related tidbits in the news today

The village of Plandome Manor has adopted a

(Credit: AP)

If you've been following the news today, you might have noticed an interesting trend: Gardening and garden-related topics have surfaced in a triplet of stories from around New York.

Exhibit A: As Newsday's Gary Dymski reports, a Greenport woman is facing a petty larceny charge  after allegedly stealing eight perennial plants from an Agway nursery in Southold yesterday, according to police....

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