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Newsday's 2018 Great Long Island Tomato Challenge contestants

More than 150 readers attended the 12th annual Great Long Island Tomato Challenge at Newsday's headquarters in Melville on Aug. 30.

Anthony Maltese

Anthony Maltese, 86, of North Massapequa, winner of
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese, 86, of North Massapequa, holds his winning 3 pound, 8.5 ounce tomato during the 12th annual Great Long Island Tomato Challenge at Newsday headquarters in Melville on Aug. 30.

Anthony Maltese of North Massapequa's winning entry, a
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese weighs his tomato.

Anthony Maltese of North Massapequa, winner of Newsday's
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese weighs his tomato.

Anthony Maltese, winner of Newsday's annual tomato contest,
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese weighs his tomato.

Anthony Maltese is named the winner of Newsday's
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese is named the winner of the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge.

Anthony Maltese receives his award from Newsday's Jessica
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese receives his award from Newsday's Jessica Damiano.

Anthony Maltese receives his award from Newsday's Jessica
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Anthony Maltese is awarded his prize.

Peter Notarnicola

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato.

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato.

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato.

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Peter Notarnicola weighs his tomato.

Joe Solarino

Jessica Damiano examines the tomato of Joe Solarino,
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Garden columnist Jessica Damiano shows the crowd Joe Solarino's tomato.

Joe Solarino of Melvillle with his tomatoes during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino poses with his "ugly" tomato.

Joe Solarino of Melvillle comes up for his
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino of Melville wins in the ugliest tomato category. 

Joe Solarino

Joe Solarino of Melvillle comes up to receive
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino receives his award from Newsday's Jessica Damiano.

Joe Solarino of Melvillle comes up to receive
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino receives his award.

Joe Solarino of Melvillle receives his award from
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino receives his award.

Joe Solarino of Melvillle receives his award from
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Joe Solarino receives his award.

Benjamin Alcine

Benjamin Aleine, left, 14, of New Hyde Park,
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Benjamin Alcine, 14, of New Hyde Park, weighs his tomato.

Benjamin Aleine, 14, of New Hyde Park, with
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Benjamin Alcine holds his tomato.

Benjamin Aleine, 14, of New Hyde Park, with
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Benjamin Alcine weighs his tomato.

Christina Kraemer

Christina Kraemer of Bohemia during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Christina Kraemer, of Bohemia, weighs her tomato. 

Gary Schaffer

Gary Schoffe of Lindenhurst during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Gary Schaffer, of Lindenhurst, weighs his tomato.

Wyatt DePace

Wyatt DePace's tomato is weighed during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Wyatt DePace's tomato is weighed during the tomato challenge.

Linda Prince

Newsday's Jessica Damiano, left, with contestant Linda Prince
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Linda Prince, of North Bellmore, weighs her tomato.

Corinn Kraemer

Corinn Kraemer, of Bohemia, holds out her tiny
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Corinn Kraemer, of Bohemia, holds out her tiny tomato. Kraemer, 19, won in the Smallest Tomato category for the second straight year. 

Corinn Kraemer, of Bohemia, accepts her prize for
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Corinn Kraemer accepts her prize.

Frank Rasizzi

Frank Rasizzi, of Northport, weighs his tomato during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Frankie Rasizzi, of Northport, weighs his tomato. Rasizzi, 15, reigned in the Ages 13-17 category with his 2-pound, 3.5-ounce tomato of an unknown variety.

Gregory Nurick

Gregory Nurick, 6, of Seaford, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Gregory Nurick, 6, of Seaford, stops by the Tomato Challenge.

Catarina Rasizzi

Catarina Rasizzi, of Northport, holds her ugly tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Catarina Rasizzi, of Northport, holds her "ugly" tomato.

Donna Rasizzi

Donna Rasizzi weighs her tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Donna Rasizzi weighs her tomato.

Frankie Rasizzi

Frankie Rasizzi, of Northport, weighs his tomato during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Frankie Rasizzi, of Northport, weighs his tomato.

Frankie Rasizzi, of Northport, accepts a prize for
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Frankie Rasizzi, of Northport, accepts a prize for his winning tomato.

Walter O'Brisky

Walter O'Brisky, of Westbury, weighs his tomato during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Walter O'Brisky, of Westbury, weighs his tomato.

John Feder

John Feder weighs his tomato during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

John Feder weighs his tomato.

Lizet Dobin

Lizet Dobin, 42, of Dix Hills (R), measures
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Lizet Dobin, 42, of Dix Hills, helps measure her tomato.

A tiny tomato belonging to Lizet Dobin, 42,
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Lizet Dobin's tomato is being measured.

Antonio Turturiei

Antonio Turturiei, 6, of Shirley, weighs his tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Antonio Turturiei, 6, of Shirley, weighs his tomato.

Antonio Turturiei, 6, of Shirley, weighs his tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Antonio Turturiei, 6, of Shirley, holds his tomato.

Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy of Franklin Square, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Ryan Murphy, of Franklin Square, weighs his tomato.

Alby Cerrone

Alby Cerrone, 8 Months, of Bellrose, weighs her
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Eight-month old Alby Cerrone, of Bellerose, attends his first Tomato Challenge.

Alby Cerrone, 8 Months, of Bellrose, weighs her
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Alby Cerrone, 8 months, of Bellrose, gets help weighing his tomato. 

Taline Vartanian

The tomato of Taline Vartanian, 10, of Garden
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The tiny tomato of Taline Vartanian, 10, of Garden City, is measured.

The tomato of Taline Vartanian, 10, of Garden
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Taline Vartanian's tomato is measured.

Nairi Vartanian

Nairi Vartanian, 13, of Garden City, weighs her
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Nairi Vartanian, 13, of Garden City, weighs her tomato.

Tony Corsentino

Tony Corsentino, of Mineola, weighs his tomato during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Tony Corsentino, of Mineola, weighs his tomato.

Tony Corsentino, of Mineola, weighs his tomato during
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Tony Corsentino's tomato is weighed.

A tiny tomato is weighed during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

A tiny tomato is entered in the Tomato Challenge.

Arkapiusz Szczypior

Arkapiusz Szczypior, of Lindenhurst, 41, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Arkapiusz Szczypior, 41, of Lindenhurst, has his tomatoes weighed.

Arkapiusz Szczypior, of Lindenhurst, 41, weighs his tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Arkapiusz Szczypior's tomato is being weighed.

Oliver Szczypior

Oliver Szczypior, 2, of Lindenhurst, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Oliver Szczypior, 2, of Lindenhurst, presents his tomatoes.

Oliver Szczypior, 2, of Lindenhurst, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Oliver Szczypior with his tomatoes.

Oliver Szczypior, of Lindenhurst, 2, measures his small
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Oliver Szczypior holds his small tomato.

James Julian Dunn

James Julian Dynn, 4, of Northport, during the
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

James Julian Dunn, 4, of Northport, weighs his tomato. 

James Julian Dynn, 4, of Northport, during Newsday's
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

James Julian Dunn holds his tomato. He won among the 6-and-under set for his 2-pound, 1-ounce Sicilian saucer, which the preschooler grew from seed.

James Julian Dynn, 4, of Northport, during Newsday's
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

James Julian Dunn gets help weighing his tomato.

James Julian Dynn, 4, of Northport, during Newsday's
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

James Julian Dunn wins a prize for his 2-pound, 1-ounce Sicilian saucer.

Sandralee Capitain

Sandralee Capitain, of North Babylon, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Sandralee Capitain, 72, of North Babylon, enters her tomatoes in the Challenge.   

Bruce Marcus

Bruce Marcus, of Merrick, during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Bruce Marcus, of Merrick, attends the Tomato Challenge.

Bruce Marcus, of Merrick, during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Bruce Marcus weighs his tomato.

Bruce Marcus, of Merrick, during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Bruce Marcus' tomato is measured for the Smallest Tomato contest.

Alayna Gottesman

Alayna Gottesman, 9, of Farmingville, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Alayna Gottesman, 9, of Farmingville, weighs her tomato.

Janet Hart

Janet Hart, of Lindenhurst, during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Janet Hart, of Lindenhurst, weighs her tomato.

Janet Hart, of Lindenhurst, during Newsday's annual tomato
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Janet Hart, of Lindenhurst, weighs her tomato.

Jack Maguire

Jack Maguire, of Kings Park, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Jack Maguire, of Kings Park, weighs his tomato.

Jack Maguire, of Kings Park, during Newsday's annual
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Jack Maguire weighs his tomato.

Giovanni Cicciarella

Giovanni Cicciarella of Deer Park with his tomato
Photo Credit: Maria Cicciarella

Giovanni Cicciarella, of Deer Park, shows tomatoes he’s growing in his backyard. His late father-in-law, Vincenzo Domingo, won the inaugural Great Long Island Tomato Challenge in 2007 with his 3-pound, 14-ounce “Domingo” tomato.

Grace Bennett, Jeanie Waters and service dog McGrew

These
Photo Credit: Grace Bennett

These “three redheads pulling weeds around heirloom tomatoes” are, clockwise from top, Grace Bennett, Jeanie Waters and service dog McGrew of Rockville Centre. “I am growing scarlet-topped Pritchard Heirlooms and lots of other kinds” of tomatoes, said Bennett, adding that she applies compost, baking soda and seaweed from ocean beaches on Long Island around her plants, and she doesn’t use any chemical sprays.

Kathleen Martingale

"The section of our yard that gets the
Photo Credit: Kathleen Martingale

“The section of our yard that gets the most sun is on our driveway,” lamented Kathleen Martingale of Lynbrook. So she usually plants tomatoes and peppers in large pots, but this year she tried something different: “We had an old “grillzebo” (a gazebo-type space designed for grilling under) which had lost its canvas cover. We bought a large planter box and put the grillzebo inside, then planted five tomato plants. It [was] great to repurpose something that would have ended up in the landfill.” It’ not clear whether rescue dog Kylie is guarding the plants or waiting for a grilled treat.

Joanne Cornelius

Joanne Cornelius of Greenlawn is growing 24 tomato
Photo Credit: Kevin Cornelius

Joanne Cornelius is growing 24 behemoth tomato plants in her Greenlawn garden, but her favorite is Super Sweet 100, which, she said, her family “eats right in the garden.” Over the years “we’ve learned to place the cages and wood stakes early, making it easier to tie the plants. Every week we add grass clippings from the lawn to reduce weeds and mulch the garden,” she added.

Wyatt DePace

Wyatt DePace, 4, of Albertson, a winner in
Photo Credit: Michele DePace

Wyatt DePace, 4, of Albertson, a winner in the 2017 Great Long Island Tomato Challenge, grew tomatoes again this year with his grandfather Walter O‘Brisky of Westbury. “He loves taking care of the plants with his grandpa,“ writes his mom, Michele DePace.

Annette Pennell

Annette Pennell of West Babylon has planted tomatoes
Photo Credit: Elaine Mignone

“They will not be the biggest, the smallest and maybe not even the ugliest in Newsday’s  2018 Great Long Island Tomato Challenge, but these lovely Husky Cherry Red tomatoes are being grown at my office,” writes West Babylon's Annette Pennell, an accounts administrator at Wire to Water Inc. in Farmingdale. The plants are growing in full sun in a raised bed, which, Pennell says, makes them “easy to maintain during the day.” Pennell, who has staked the plants with PVC pipes from the company’s warehouse, says the three plants “greet our workers as we enter the building each day, and we anticipate having fresh tomatoes on our lunchtime salads.”

Frank Liccardi

Frank Licciardi is growing the beefsteak tomato plant
Photo Credit: Pat Licciardi

"My husband, Frank, has the magic touch this year," writes Pat Liccardi of West Islip. "He shades his beefsteak plant during the hot-sun part of the day. I don’t know his secret, but it’s working and we can’t wait to sink our teeth in a fresh garden tomato."

Rich Koenig

Reader Rich Koenig, of Syosset, has been planting
Photo Credit: Carol Koenig

Reader Rich Koenig of Syosset has been planting tomatoes in whiskey barrels for 20 years. "First, I drill drainage holes," he says, "then place pieces of 4-by-4 wood under the barrels for air flow." Next, Koenig adds 3 to 4 inches of pebbles for drainage, fills the barrels with a combination of peat moss, cow manure and planting soil, and fertilizes twice per season. 

Anthony DiCocco

Anthony DiCocco of North Bellmore in his 750-square-foot
Photo Credit: Anthony DiCocco

"Hard work and tender care are the keys to a fine crop, and as you can see, you get out what you put in," says reader Anthony DiCocco. The North Bellmore resident is growing red and yellow onions, butter leaf and redhead lettuces, bell peppers, Roma bush beans, Italian pole beans, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers,and Swiss chard. But his pride and joy are his tomatoes. "I have Italian plum, cherry and mammoth heirlooms which will be ready for the August contest," he says, adding that he grows them organically without the use or fertilizers or chemicals and follows an "old-world Italian recipe" using a barrel and "secret" ingredients.

Tony Corsentino

Tony Corsentino, of Mineola, is at it again,
Photo Credit: Linda Corsentino

Tony Corsentino, of Mineola, is at it again, this year growing Italian Finesse tomatoes with a “new secret formula.” Looks like it’s working, Tony!

Janet Hart

Janet Hart, of Lindenhurst, is ready for the
Photo Credit: Meryl Hart

Janet Hart, a legacy contestant of the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge, is participating for the 12th straight year, growing tomatoes as well as cucumbers and beans, in what she describes as her “very pathologically neat” garden in her Lindenhurst backyard. 

Alayna Gottesman

Alayna Gottesman, 9, of Farmingville, takes extraordinary measures
Photo Credit: Sal Ferrante

Alayna Gottesman, 9, of Farmingville, braved the elements late last month and “took extra precautions to protect her hopefully prizewinning tomato plant from heavy spring rains,” reports her grandfather, Sal Ferrante of West Islip.

We’re sure the seasoned tomato grower, who has attended the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge since she was 5 — for more than half her life! — let some of that rain irrigate her plants. We’ll see Alayna at this year’s challenge.

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