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See what Long Islanders are growing in their gardens and what makes it special 

Isiah Sidberry of West Babylon is growing tomatoes,

Isiah Sidberry of West Babylon is growing tomatoes, peppers, collard greens, green beans and "much, much more" with a little helper by his side. Credit: Dana Sidberry

Long Islanders love playing in the dirt — and these photos prove it. From foliage and flowers to full-fledged mini-farms, here’s what your neighbors have been up to in their gardens.

Isiah Sidberry of West Babylon is growing tomatoes, peppers, collard greens, green beans and “much, much more” with a little helper by his side. He and his 5-year-old son, Isiah Jr., “started this together in late April during quarantine in little pots in the house," he said. "And then our cousin Nick Eichinger built the planter.” And they have big plans for some of their crops: “We are going to make our own hot sauce!”

Joy Wagner of Flanders, a lifelong gardener, is determined to finally grow her “dream garden this year,” a goal that has taken on new meaning and importance after her Stage 3 ovarian cancer diagnosis three years ago. “The treatments left me weak and too sick to work outside,” she said, adding that “last year, my treatments were changed, allowing me to regain my strength and to feel much better.” So in the spring, she described her “dream garden” plan to her husband, Craig, who built fenced-in raised beds, complete with an entry sign, for her. Wagner now enjoys “spending time working in my garden every day,” growing “a variety of vegetables and herbs, with some flowers for color.”

Christine and Tom McCarthy of Levittown have shared their passion for gardening with their children, Shannon, 12, and Mike, 10, who started seedlings in spring. The younger McCarthys are growing marigolds, nasturtiums and tomatoes this year.

Chauna Lennon of Farmingville recently dedicated her vegetable garden to her deceased son, Braeden, with a memorial sign erected in his honor. “Every year around the time of his birthday,” she said, “a blue jay appears around my home.” One day recently, Lennon turned her head toward the garden “and found a blue jay perched near the sign.” She snapped a photo as a touching reminder.

Mary McLean of East Islip has planted Liriope in a poolside bed in her backyard. "It's consistently reliable in the summer for some much-needed color," she said, adding that her dog, Marty, "and every dog that visits, loves to lay in it." No worries, though, Liriope is tough as nails (and not toxic to dogs).

Janet Hart of Lindenhurst, a longtime, avid tomato grower, planted a "2020 Pandemic Garden" in May that includes zucchini, green beans, wax beans, bush beans, eggplants, cucumbers and more than a half-dozen varieties of tomatoes.

Anthony Neglia took this photo of his late wife, Janet, and their granddaughter Brianna in their Commack garden during the summer of 2016. “Janet was a skilled gardener and nature lover,” he said, adding that in the photo, “she was teaching Brianna how to remove weeds.” Neglia said the photo has become a family favorite.

Elaine Rosselli of East Northport wasn’t able to go out to buy plants this year, so she planted all the seeds she saved from last season. “I just scattered the seeds, made a sign of the cross in the soil, and the flowers grew 4 to 5 feet tall,” she said, adding that she now has “a veritable butterfly haven in the front and backyards” to supplement her existing perennial garden. This year, Rosselli’s garden is bursting with hydrangeas, foxgloves, clematis, marigolds, zinnias, irises, coneflowers and more. And, she said, she added “coffee grinds and pennies to the soil to turn the wall of hydrangeas” from purple to blue.

Check out 7 plants you can put in your garden instead of invasive species.

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