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LifestyleHome and Garden

Tales from the summer garden

Melissa Melone says her family's favorite vegetable is

Melissa Melone says her family's favorite vegetable is the Italian squash cucuzza. Her grandfather "starts these plants from seeds each year, which reminds him of the gardens his father and grandfather had in Sicily." Here's Melissa with her grandparents holding "their most prized possession." Photo Credit: Handout

The growing season of 2012 is winding down, and it's a perfect time for readers to celebrate -- and lament -- their 2012 summer gardens. Here's what your neighbors have been up to. Add your stories to the comments below.

Melissa Melone says her family's favorite vegetable is
Photo Credit: Handout

Melissa Melone says her family's favorite vegetable is the Italian squash cucuzza. Her grandfather "starts these plants from seeds each year, which reminds him of the gardens his father and grandfather had in Sicily." Here's Melissa with her grandparents holding "their most prized possession."

Maria Daddino of East Quogue had a bone
Photo Credit: Maria Daddino

Maria Daddino of East Quogue had a bone to pick with my coverage of the exploding deer population on the East End. "I usually enjoy your gardening articles but I must admit that the article on deer truly upset me because it was so one-sided. I have a garden-tour quality garden, which is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a backyard wildlife habitat. I invite deer (they come every evening) -- and whomever else wants to visit -- into my garden, and my garden is still lush and full."

Amy Serlis of Lake Grove says her father,
Photo Credit: Handout

Amy Serlis of Lake Grove says her father, Nicholas Serlis, also of Lake Grove, has an "extraordinary" garden, and grew this 4 1/2-pound tomato this summer. "He so loves his garden of over 40 years, and he's having a milestone birthday in September. Everything he grows is organic, as he makes his own compost. He recently had surgery and could not wait to get out there again," she says. Happy birthday, Mr. Serlis!

Corene Connor of Port Jefferson Station is surprised
Photo Credit: Handout

Corene Connor of Port Jefferson Station is surprised that the eucalyptus she planted last year survived the winter, and wants to know whether that’s normal. There are many species of eucalyptus, Corene. Some are shrubs; others can grow into 100-foot-tall trees, typically in horticultural zones 8-11. Because Long Island is in zone 7, you were lucky this year. The winter was mild enough for the plant to survive, and having it up against your house might have offered additional protection. But I wouldn’t count on a repeat performance next year.

John Maggiacomo of Greenlawn said he had “unbelievable
Photo Credit: Handout

John Maggiacomo of Greenlawn said he had “unbelievable beginner’s success” growing cayenne peppers in pots this summer on his patio. Plants reached 4 feel tall, and then this happened. “Can you explain?” he asked? That’s blossom end rot, John, a condition caused by a calcium deficiency often due to irregular watering. The peppers are fine to eat, just cut away the rotted parts. And to help prevent a recurrence next year, incorporate dolomitic lime into the soil (according to package directions) this fall when you clean out the beds.

Keri Hetena of Commack grew this 15-inch-long cucumber
Photo Credit: Handout

Keri Hetena of Commack grew this 15-inch-long cucumber in her garden, starting organic seeds in a small greenhouse. “I found it and decided to just let it keep growing,” she said.

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